EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 6, 2013

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

Surveillance videos help, usually, to catch crooks

(Continued)

Equipment that used to cost a lot of money is now very affordable, he said, making its use more widespread.

In fact, a quick survey online found security systems for less than $300 available at places like BJ’s, Home Depot and Costco, among other places.

One local security company owner advises buyers to beware of the low-cost camera systems, saying they fall apart easily and don’t generate high-quality images.

“In the last 10 years, prices have come down a lot,” said Stephen Seplow, owner of AAAA Alarm Service; 78 Everett St., Lawrence, a family-owned business that installs security systems throughout the region. But the quality can sometimes also lag.

He said he installs security systems for all sorts of clients. One client in Andover wanted to know who was writing anti-Semetic graffiti on his house. Another, in Salem, N.H., is worried about workmen stealing items from his garage.

Commercial clients, meanwhile, generally want to keep an eye on employees while they are also trying to protect themselves from fraudulent slip-and-fall claims.

Capt. Pierce of the Lawrence Police Department said one of the most important things a business can do to ensure good video quality is to put cameras at eye-level where the lens can capture the face of a person robbing a store or a bank. Most cameras, placed on the ceiling, take lousy video because a suspect simply needs to wear a baseball cap and look down to avoid having his or her face captured on camera.

Pierce, along with Desjardins, have spent hundreds of hours in training on video and photo enhancement techniques, and are eager to pass their knowledge on to local businesses while also offering their services to area departments.

Chief Romero points out that Desjardins is one of just 37 police officers in the world who has reached the highest level of forensic video analysis training. Armed with $20,000 in technology purchased by the department, he and Pierce, who has almost as much training as Desjardins, have been instrumental in helping Lawrence and other police departments around the state solve crimes and prosecute criminals using video evidence.

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