More than 50 private security cameras are now in the Five Points district, and proponents of the cameras say they’re preventing crime and helping authorities solve cases.
The private security cameras, first installed in 2005 and now all over the hospitality district, were brought to the forefront this week after Bruce Miller’s car was broken into and vandalized outside his business, Groucho’s Deli, early Tuesday morning.
An unidentified subject, shown clearly in the cameras, walked away from the cameras after vandalizing Miller’s car, heading toward the Edible Arrangements van parked nearby in Five Points. The cameras didn’t follow him to the van, but owners reported it damaged the next morning as well. The subject then returned to the car and did more damage.
After Miller reported the crime to Five Points Executive Director Merritt McHaffie, she consulted with Statewide Security Systems, which donated a round of cameras to the Five Points Association and is now paid for monthly monitoring services. The association also paid $10,000 for a second round of cameras.
Within a few minutes of checking footage, McHaffie and an employee from Statewide Security Systems were able to glean a clear look at the subject. Columbia Police now have the footage and are investigating the case.
“I applaud the teamwork between the business community and the Columbia Police Department and am encouraged by businesses throughout the city of Columbia for taking the initiative to better protect their properties by the use of crime prevention tools,” Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said in a statement.
McHaffie said she hopes the cameras continue to develop attention in Five Points.
“They catch shoplifters all the time, and they’re helping police get criminals off the street,” McHaffie said. “We hope the cameras start becoming proactive, where criminals know if you come to Five Points and commit a crime, you’re going to get caught.”
Cameras and security call boxes line USC’s campus as well, said Capt. Eric Grabski with USC’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety.
“The cameras are part of the overall safety plan at USC and can also help us in identifying suspicious persons and persons committing crime,” Grabski said.