On Crime & Security
As I write this, the Philadelphia Police and other law enforcement agencies are aggressively hunting a suspected cop killer named John Lewis.
The police believe Lewis, 21, walked into a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Philadelphia on October 31st and drew a gun on the clerk behind the counter. We know this not only from the witnesses' accounts, but we can also vividly view the robbery from the store's surveillance cameras.
The cameras' footage clearly show that as the hold up was progressing, Philadelphia Police officer Charles "Chuck" Cassidy walked into the store. The robber shot the officer, left the store and then calmly reentered the store and took the fallen officer's firearm before leaving and driving off.
Officer Cassidy died in the hospital the following day. He was 54. Thankfully, Dunkin' Donuts' surveillance cameras enabled the police to quickly identify Cassidy's killer.
"You can see that he has no hesitation in shooting a person," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, who released photos from the surveillance tapes.
"If he could shoot a person just coming into a Dunkin' Donuts, he's liable to shoot anybody," Johnson said.
Johnson pleaded with the public, asking them to call police with any information on the suspect, but warned them not to approach him, as he is armed and dangerous with two handguns. There is a reward of $153, 000 and hopefully the suspect has been captured by the time you read this.
Surveillance cameras also played a big part in another recent Philadelphia case of armed robbery and murder. William Widmaier, 65, and Joseph Alullo, 54, were two Loomis armored car guards who were servicing the ATM machine at a bank early on the morning of October 4th. Both Widmaier and Alullo were retired Philadelphia police officers.
Mustafi Ali, 36, stepped out of his Acura, slipped on a pair of gloves, walked up to the two guards and fatally shot them. He then took the bags from the fallen guards and got into his Acura and drove off.
We know this because the bank's cameras and another store's cameras recorded the entire incident. The police released the photos of the killer and his car and he was soon identified and arrested. A convicted bank robber who served seven years in prison, Ali pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.
These two cases clearly illustrate how surveillance cameras assist the police in solving crimes against businesses. I've been on the scene of homicides and robberies and detectives tell me that the first thing they do when they reach a crime scene is look for cameras. As one homicide detective told me, the camera footage does not lie and it does not make mistakes, unlike live witnesses to crime. Also, the surveillance photos often convince the criminal to plead quality, the detective told me.
Cameras also prevent crime. The installation of cameras has deterred many a criminal from targeting homes and businesses. Most security companies offer Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras as part of their integrated security systems. If you have a security system, ask your dealer about upgrading the system to include cameras. If you don't have a security system, there are a number of companies who install good systems in homes and businesses, such as ADT and Brinks, to name a few.
Internal cameras keep your employees honest and identify those who are not. Internal cameras can also prevent shoplifting and armed robbery and they can identify those who commit crimes despite the cameras.
External cameras can guard your home and businesses' grounds, including trash containers and a parking lot if you have one. The cameras prevent vandalism and burglary, especially late in the evening, and the cameras will identify those who commit crimes.
I recall a homicide detective telling me that after a robbery and murder, he viewed the stores many hours of surveillance video until he was able to identify the murder suspect "casing" the store some days before the crime. Once shown the photos, the criminal quickly confessed.
To be truly safe and secure these days, homes and businesses should have an integrated security system that includes surveillance cameras.