When a Sacramento County man first trained surveillance cameras on a park across the road from his home, he captured gang activity. Now, his surveillance has recorded public sex, drug use and drinking.
Marty, who requested that his last name not be used to protect his privacy, started installing the cameras on a tall metal pole about 16 years ago on his property near Hamilton Street Park, which is east of Interstate 80 and south of Madison Avenue.
He reports illegal activity captured on his video to local law enforcement, which prompts officers to visit the park. Marty’s efforts recently were featured on the television show Inside Edition.
“I put them up when we first moved out here because we had a problem with gangs,” he said of the cameras.
Five cameras are mounted on the pole to monitor activity at the 17-acre park. He has additional cameras on his property taking video from other spots.
One of his cameras automatically tracks movement and follows the action. He also has a monitor next to his television inside his home so that he can keep watch for criminal activity.
About four years ago, he started posting suspicious activity on YouTube. He said a majority of the neighborhood supports his efforts because they want to prevent crime and mischief.
“Recently, we have had prowlers,” he said. “Several of them. One guy is breaking into houses at night.”
Through the years he has recorded teens and adults drinking, taking drugs and having sex in the open or inside their vehicles. Sometimes he interrupts sexual activity by shining a flashlight on nighttime rendezvous.
“Sex in cars, sex out of cars, the usual thing,” he said. “Sometime I walk out there and hit them with light from a flashlight and scream at them.”
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said residential surveillance cameras have assisted law enforcement in many criminal cases. It is unknown whether Marty’s cameras have led to arrests.
The Sheriff’s Department has a program in which residents and businesses can register their video surveillance systems. Cameras are not monitored in real time.
“It provides a database of the locations of those surveillance cameras for law enforcement, so that investigators can more quickly contact the owners of the surveillance systems to retrieve possible video evidence of crimes that occurred in that area,” Turnbull said in an email.