Local Neighbourhood Watch groups turning on the heat

May 19, 2015


Due to escalating crime in South Africa, neighbourhoods are standing more and more together in fighting crime.  5900 crimes are reported daily by the SAPS making technology a vital part in crime prevention.  I interviewed one of our clients, the Technical Advisor from a local Neighbourhood Watch and Police Forum in the Southern suburbs, Cape Town to learn about their crime fighting struggles and the benefits since introducing FLIR Thermal Technology into their surveillance programs.
How does the terrain of your area and the surroundings make surveillance extra difficult?
“Criminals have slowly migrated to traversing the mountain fringes from where they penetrate into the target area and retreat back into the mountain to route out of the area. Due to the nature of the terrain and fenced off National Parks ‘no go’ areas, responses by Police and security companies are hampered. Vegetation and the lack of secure power in these areas creates dark, obscured rat runs which criminals use to easily outrun follow up operations.”
During what time do most incidences occur?
 “Most serious and violent crimes occur at night and as early as 22h00 with midnight to 03h00 being the most common for these crime categories.”
According to your experience what has been the biggest advantage since using Thermal Technology?
“Early warning of criminals on their way to commit a crime and the ability to warn residents of their presence in the area and then pass the information to the police for follow up operations.”

It is obvious that Image two below, a local porcupine, is the type of visitor you want to find on control screens. Talk us through the other two screen shots.
“Frame one shows a home invader , using a mountain path as he routes back to his base after midnight and in total darkness. He’s one of a group of three that ran from a home invasion. They were observed moving deliberately and slowly taking 40 minutes to cover 400 meters. They were intercepted by an unknown group recorded on the same imager.”


Your Conclusion?
“Criminals are evolving into efficient groups, working primarily at night and in areas obscured from local on house or in the street type surveillance systems. It’s apparent that they share intelligence about routes, tactics, fencing, alarms and how to evade or defeat counter measures. Conventional flood lights and infra-red illumination overtly placed are simply bypassed and the target penetrated due to the false sense of security that comes with ‘bright lights’. Thermal enables two tactics to be employed. First prize is to quietly mobilise, intercept and detain for questioning but before they strike. This is really difficult as their target in this phase is unknown and response teams would need to be on continuous stand by. So one normally waits for their return on the same ‘rat run’ to detain them possibly carrying evidence of their latest work. The second tactic preferred by residents with their heads on pillows is for an immediate response into the area once prowlers are detected. These responses rarely lead to contact or arrests but they do deflect the threat.”


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