Exeter PD buys covert surveillance equipment to help thwart car thefts in the area


By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

EXETER – Where law enforcement agencies are adding eyes to their skys, Exeter is investing in some eyes they can hide.

In order to save on staff costs and time, the Exeter Police Department is accepting almost $12,500 to purchase auto theft deterrence camera equipment. Some of it will be clear as day, but some of the equipment could be easily concealed. Without revealing the location of their cameras, criminals will have to think twice before deciding whether to steal a car, and then where to leave it.

The source of funding came from a small fund at the county level and established through registration fees. According to an Exeter staff report on the purchase when drivers register their cars in Tulare County, one dollar of their registration fees are allocated to a fund for local law enforcement. Police departments and other agencies trying to mitigate car theft can submit proposals for funds. The money from the fund must go toward the prevention, detection and investigation of auto theft, according to an Exeter staff report.

“These funds are proportioned to each agency, build over time and are only received once a specific request has been made and approved by a County reviewing board,” the report stated.

Exeter is looking to make the most of their part of the fund by purchasing camera equipment that will help thwart future auto thefts. Exeter Chief of Police John Hall requested $12,440.95, the amount was approved by the review board and the Exeter City Council approved it in their consent calendar last week, Tuesday, April 9.

The City “sole sourced” the project with QPCS Technology Integration Experts from Ceres, Calif. They will provide both a covert and overt system of surveillance. Chief Hall notes in his staff report that the overt system, a pole mounted camera system, may aid in serving as a deterrent if observed by a subject. The covert camera is more likely to identify suspects while committing the crime.

“Both of these systems are easily portable and may be placed strategically at various locations depending on specific trends/needs,” an Exeter staff report noted. “These systems each have the ability to store data as well as be remotely viewed, thus maximizing the use of resources.”

The pole mounted camera system looks like any regular surveillance device. Although, a covert camera can be disguised in something like an electrical box. Exeter’s staff report says that auto thieves will frequently target a specific area for their crime due to the ease of access to the vehicle.

“These areas are often identified as specific shopping centers, parking lots, or other areas where large numbers of vehicles are parked,” the staff report stated.

After stripping the car for parts, or whenever the thief is done with it, they will “dump the car” in an area where there are few people, or where it will blend in. Areas such as that allow thieves to discreetly abandon the vehicle without suspicion.

Instead of posting an officer to watch a suspicious area, committing staff time and taxpayer dollars for something that may not happen, Exeter notes it is much more cost effective to use surveillance. Exeter police will post their surveillance equipment where they have been able to identify “hot spots.”

“We know it is not feasible to leave an officer in one area continuously for days on end in the hopes of identifying suspects,” the report stated. “We can however deploy surveillance systems and leave them in place…then review the footage for the specific period in which the crime occurred.”

QPCS’s camera systems are supported by software that incorporates the ability to establish “electronic fences” that will activate the cameras when someone walks past the perimeter. The software also comes with the ability to integrate facial recognition software.

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