Cameras Credited with Crime Drop in Houston

Reports of automobile burglaries at one apartment complex are down about 80 percent.
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Reports of automobile burglaries at one apartment complex are down about 80 percent.

Houston police are crediting security cameras with dramatic drops in crimes rates in some sections of the city, says a published report.

Crime data released by Houston police shows a reduction in crimes reported in the Bray Oaks and Sharpstown sections of the city with reports of automobile burglaries down about 80 percent at one apartment complex, says the Houston Chronicle.

Recent results of mobile surveillance cameras at apartment complexes in southwest Houston show they deter crime, but a spokesman for the Houston Apartment Association (HAA) said requiring the cameras to be installed at multi-family communities citywide is "undoable."

Andy Teas, HAA's vice president for public affairs, said many multi-family property owners cannot afford to install the cameras, but requiring the security cameras at high-crime properties facing remedial action by the city might work.

"I think it's a great idea, but what are we going to require, and where? And where is the money going to come from?" Teas said.

Teas is part of an ongoing political dialogue taking place in southwest Houston, where residents are meeting with city and school officials, police, apartment managers and others to find ways to reduce crime and cure related social ills that put the area's children at risk of dropping out of school.

A nonprofit coalition of neighborhoods and other civic groups in the area—the crime prevention committee of Southwest Houston 2000—is facilitating the dialogue. The committee has reviewed data showing a drop in crime at five apartments where highly visible mobile surveillance cameras were placed. In addition, Perry Radoff, a lawyer who chairs the group, sees the use of security cameras at apartment communities as one possible solution.

Richard Rodriguez with Brays Oaks Management District provided the report, which shows reductions in all crime ranging from 23 percent to 100 percent at the sites in Brays Oaks and Sharpstown. The lower reductions in crime occurred on larger properties, where the camera's range was limited to the front of the property, Rodriguez said.

Nonetheless, the use of security cameras is becoming more widespread because they are effective, as the data shows, Radoff said. The city requires video cameras at convenience stores, and apartments are likely next in line, particularly at the complexes receiving the most police service, and because the city does not have the manpower needed to police those properties, he added.


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