(WTVM) - Surveillance cameras were once used only to protect the wealthy or keep high value items safe. Of course, now they are everywhere and there is a reasonable debate to be had over whether so many cameras in so many places invade our privacy.
But let's look at two local cases where cameras became community eyes, recording criminal behavior better than any eyewitness can.
Cameras at Columbus State captured this man stealing valuable landscaping equipment. It's a brazen theft, committed in broad daylight.
Thanks to the video, police know exactly what he took, when and where he committed his crime, even the car he used to drive away. It's a wealth of evidence that will help police catch this criminal.
Then there is this man, who stole cash in an envelope left behind on the counter of Sharks Fish and Chicken on Wynnton Road, by a 73 year old woman.
The video, from a clearly visible camera pointed at every customer, enabled police to identify the man who finally agreed to come forward and admit his wrongdoing.
Besides being an effective tool for law enforcement, we can't discount what should be a major benefit of surveillance video: public shaming.
Maybe criminals have no shame. But when police release the video and you see it on News Leader 9, the police force suddenly expands to tens of thousands of you - our loyal audience - and you often step up to help police with valuable tips.
Being caught red handed on video is tough evidence to refute and knowing the community is watching-- that YOU are watching -- is powerful crime fighting.
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906