Opelika adds mobile surveillance to protect people, property in parking lots

OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Opelika police and retailers are partnering with an asset protection company for a first-of-its-kind study designed to see if a concentration of movable parking lot cameras can better protect people and property around town.

The mobile surveillance units come with a tech tower attached to a trailer. They can be rolled into almost every environment and are powered by solar panels. The towers contain a variety of cameras, including video and thermal. They can also be equipped with lights and audio speakers. Opelika’s Police Chief says a network of mobile surveillance units is now strategically placed in high-traffic shopping destinations like Tiger Town. The city has nearly twenty units all around town. The cameras are on private property and are only accessible to law enforcement when given permission by retailers.

“We are hoping that the presence of the camera systems will cut down on shoplifting and things like that happen in the parking lots like vehicle burglaries. Plus, if a crime does occur, it gives us the tools we need as the police department to solve those crimes,” said Healey.

Liveview Technology is a loss prevention and asset protection company working with our nation’s largest retailers. The company chose Opelika as one of two American cities to set up dozens of parking lot cameras on the retailer’s private property, then share video with police when needed.

“This fits nicely under our ‘Together Opelika’ umbrella where businesses and police are working together to make our city safer,” said Healey.

The solar-powered camera towers are all over Tiger Town, just in time for holiday shopping. The group will collect crime data for the next several months and compare it to previous years.

“A test run to see if crime goes down with the cameras, and if a crime does happen, we can see if we are able to solve them quickly using this tool. For us, it’s a win-win. Hopefully, we are sending the devil next door, so to speak, and if he does visit, we got him,” said Healey.

Investigators believe parking lot footage can be a game changer during cases. The video can provide vehicle descriptions, tag numbers, and directions of travel. Most importantly, deter a would-be criminal from ever acting.

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