EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 6, 2013

It's not CSI on television...It's real life

Surveillance videos help, usually, to catch crooks

In North Andover, a digital video camera at the Citizens Bank branch in the Route 114 Stop & Shop caught images of a man attempting an armed robbery. The video, and still images from the camera, were put on the police department’s Facebook page and publicized via local media. Shortly after, someone dropped a dime with the name of the suspect. He was arrested in his Wilmington home without incident and now faces a slew of bank robbery charges from across the region and in New Hampshire.

In Lawrence, two men entered the City Mart on Haverhill Street. One of the men, wielding a pistol, jumped over the counter and began a violent struggle with the store owner. The other moved behind the counter, took money from the safe, and fled with a bag of cash. As the gunman jumped back over the counter, the store owner lashed out with a metal pole, striking the suspect as he ran away.

The entire incident, which took place over the summer, was captured on video and publicized in The Eagle-Tribune. Thanks to a tip from a viewer, late last month one of the men was arrested and charged in Lawrence District Court with armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The accomplice now sits in a New Hampshire jail, facing similar charges.

Thanks to video, these crimes — and many others — have been solved and face a strong likelihood of ending with successful prosecutions.

“Video is one of the most valuable tools we have now,” said Lawrence Police Chief John Romero. “It’s unbelievable how many arrests we’ve made, for a whole assortment of crimes, from homicides to robberies to assaults. Video is a key element.” Police in Lawrence have even nabbed illegal dumpers.

He ranked video evidence just below fingerprints and DNA in terms of catching suspects and making prosecutions stick.

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