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Roscoe Village Security Camera Network Helps Prevent And Solve Crime, And More Cameras Are In Order With Spike In Crime In Area

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A private network of neighborhood cameras is helping solve crimes in Roscoe Village – and any bit helps with crime rising in the police district into which it falls, as well as across Chicago.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Wednesday, the reach of these cameras goes far beyond the doorbell cameras we usually see.

The cameras are mounted on local businesses, and are pretty advanced. They are intended not only to help prevent crime, but to solve crime too.

"They're all exterior. They're all public spaces," said Roscoe Village Neighbors President Larry Peterson. "We do want to act as a deterrent in the neighborhood, and to that end, I think it's worked. It's also been successful obviously after the fact."

After a crime, that is.

Peterson said the cameras have made all the difference in some cases.

"Most of the time, it's a piece in the puzzle," Peterson said. "We've assisted law enforcement in several investigations."

Molina asked about recent examples. Peterson said recent cases are still pending.

Chicago Police can access their footage, but as part of the privacy policy they have in place, they can only see video associated with a police report.

The system has worked for years now. The neighborhood group got the system, and the cloud network it lives on, up and running back in 2018 - entirely on donations and funding from their events.

"Initially, we bought all the hardware," Peterson said. "Now we are at a point with our budget where we will offset some of that cost."

Each camera in the system costs about $1,000, and they're on businesses and homes throughout the neighborhood.

"We're at about 20 some cameras," Peterson said. "We don't get into specifics."

But with crime on the rise, there are plans for more. This is part of the reason why costs need to be offset.

"We're looking now, going into 2022, to add more cameras and reassess the program," Peterson said.

It is a program unique to the Roscoe Village neighborhood. But the crime numbers that warrant its expansion, unfortunately, are not.

Roscoe Village falls into the Town Hall (19th) Police District – which stretches from Lawrence Avenue on the north to Fullerton Avenue on the south, and from Lake Michigan on the east to the North Branch of the Chicago River on the west.

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Crime in the district is way up this past month compared with this time last year - with criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft all up 100 percent or more.

Peterson says right now, they are hoping to utilize these to crackdown on a specific, recent violent crime they've seen in the area - shootings from cars.

"So if we can help with those - identify those cars, help the police, say, you know, they were here, and help track them," Peterson said. "That's one of the things we hope to affect as far as the violent crime."

Some of the cameras are high enough resolution they can share plate information with police.

"When you're unsafe or have a lot of crime in your neighborhood, you have to work really hard to make it go away, to make it a safe neighborhood," Peterson said, "but once you're a safe neighborhood, you still have to work really hard to keep it that way."

We reached out to Chicago Police about how they have used and are using the Roscoe Village camera network. They had not issued any comment as of late Wednesday.

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