Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, considered to be the most effective tool in identifying the accused, are losing their sting as criminals are smartening up to this technology by covering their faces, stealing the hard disk of the camera, or damaging the device.
CCTV footage is usually the first thing policemen check in cases of burglaries and thefts. In fact, such has been their efficacy that cops have repeatedly requested banks and jewellery shops to install them for their safety. However, a string of recent crimes in which the accused have ensured the network does not throw up any leads, points to the trend of criminals learning to defeat its purpose.
In the burglary at the Dadar branch of Dena Bank, the accused knew the location of the cameras, and evaded them by covering himself with a plastic sheet. Similarly, in a break-in at a Chembur-based jewellery shop on Thursday, the accused took the hard disk of the CCTV camera along with Rs 22.27 lakh cash.
Deputy commissioner of police (zone 5) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “People should use hidden cameras and ensure they do not share the security alarm password with anyone. A lot of people make the mistake of keeping the default or a simple password, which are easy to guess.”
When asked if there are ways this trend can be bucked, especially in cases where the accused may be an insider, security consultant Ajit Toliya, who specialises in CCTV cameras, said, “To circumvent the problem of hard disks being stolen, one can opt for the CCTV camera to have an alternate server, which is located at a distant location.”
On instances of an insider using his knowledge of the CCTV network to evade it, Toliya said, “In this case, a smart ploy would be to install dummy cameras. In a particular case where we had such a problem, we had around 50 such camera sockets installed at a shop, with no one apart from the employer knowing which socket was a dummy.”
Toliya suggested using a central monitoring system, in which a person is hired to monitor the CCTV footage during off hours.