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WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 18, 2012, 04:54 PM

Local officials show surveillance camera concern

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- The surveillance pictures do help solve crimes, but the cameras businesses use, leave a lot of room for improvement. Most of the photos come from more than 20-feet away, with no clear shot of the suspect's face.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- The surveillance pictures do help solve crimes, but the cameras businesses use, leave a lot of room for improvement. Most of the photos come from more than 20-feet away, with no clear shot of the suspect's face.

Don Fischer knows his cameras, and he also knows that Fargo businesses aren't using the best surveillance options. Made clear by the videos released after armed robberies, like the one that hit Gate City Bank.

Don Fischer/Fargo spy shop owner: "If that person walked in my store at the moment I'm looking at him on TV, I would never recognize him through that camera"

That's because of picture quality, usually sacrificed for camera cost.

Most business opt for a cheaper, out of date options.

Fischer: "Every time I see one of those robberies on TV and I look at that camera and that picture I go, 'Man these guys have got to come in and update that system.'"

Another big problem, camera placement. Fischer says many install ceiling cameras, trying to hide cords and wires. But by adding surveillance around eye level, it opens up the possibility seeing a suspect's face.

Lt. Joel Vettel/Fargo Police: "Getting a shot from 25, 30 feet away, even if you have a very quality camera, still it's not going to be as good of quality as just within feet away. "

Although quality and placement are important, another factor is the number of cameras businesses decide to use. Gate City has several visible right outside their front doors.

Vettel: "The more cameras they have, the better chance we are that we are going to get a very good, high quality shot, of the person's face or other distinctive features."

But the bottom line, these little improvements, even if they cost a little more, could be worth it.

Fischer: "It's getting to that day and age where you just pretty much need one to prove it."

Especially if they mean getting armed robbers..off of city streets. Fischer says you can get a middle of the road camera, with fairly high quality, for about 200 dollars.

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