Local News

N.C. Company Develops Camera to Catch Graffiti Artists in the Act

Posted November 20, 2007
Updated November 21, 2007

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A local company is marketing a new crime-fighting tool designed to help police catch graffiti artists.

Based in Youngsville, Law Enforcement Associates Inc. has created motion-activated hidden surveillance cameras that officers can deploy at known graffiti spots.

The company polled police departments to see whether there was a need and to gauge interest in the product.

"They said they'd like to be at the scene of the crime," LEA President Paul Feldman said.

The cameras record the crime and send text messages to law enforcement officers' cellular phones.

"Typically, this text message will come into them within 6 and 15 seconds," LEA President Paul Feldman said.

The cameras cost nearly $5,000. But Feldman said cities and towns in the United States spend about $12 billion a year cleaning graffiti, and that price tag ultimately offsets the cost of cleanup.

"A very, very small town – they don't have it in their budget to repaint walls," he said. "It would decrease property values."

The company has sold 25 cameras this week – the majority in Denver. But there haven't been any buyers in North Carolina, including Wake County and Raleigh, where graffiti is on the rise.

Although Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says at this point he feels like the cameras would be too expensive for Wake County to purchase.

From 2005 to 2006, there were more than 1,250 calls to the city to clean up graffiti. This year, that number is more than 2,100.

Graffiti is the No. 1 property crime in the United States, Feldman said.

21 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • bobbythreesticks Nov 21, 2007

    I guess $5K is too much to spend, but the govt can spend $42K on a single car that can be pluged into an electrical outlet to save gas......what in the world?

  • nosuchmiracles Nov 21, 2007

    Hollylama thats because most people are extremely uneducated when it comes to graffiti - especially living in an area like Raleigh where a graffiti problem consists of a few handstyles here and there...

  • hollylama Nov 21, 2007

    I saw an interesting news story of how in some South American country the graffity artists were comissioned to paint various parts of the city. We have similar processes but ours involve juried competition...

    Also, nosuchmiracles thanks for pointing that out. Most people assume all graffiti is gang related.

  • TruthBKnown Nov 21, 2007

    I like the good side of cameras (preventing a crime, or helping to solve one). But I don't like the Big Brother aspect of it. I feel a little less free with cameras everywhere. Whenever you increase security, you decrease freedom. That's just the nature of the beast.

  • tmedlin Nov 21, 2007

    I like the ideas of cameras - and they need to be on the school buses, too!

  • nosuchmiracles Nov 21, 2007

    This is pretty funny. The notion of a camera stopping or helping to fight graffiti is laughable. Also, if you think most graffiti is gang related - do some research. Don't speak on a subject if you don't know anything about it. It's very easy to separate the gang graffiti and that from a graffiti writer.

    Raleigh got lucky that the hard hitting graffiti writers moved away or retired for the most part.

  • DrJ Nov 21, 2007

    I wouldn't start with a bunch of cameras. Start with 4 or 5, and put them in locations where graffiti shows up regularly. Then, after a few convictions, and word gets around, move the camera to another location. These aren't disposable cameras, so the $5,000 cost would be spread out over years. $5000, by the way, is nothing in our legal system today. If a prosecutor can present video evidence to a criminal defender, you're going to have fewer charged criminals actually trying to beat the cases in court. Lots of potential for big dollar savings here. Of course, the sheriff doesn't care thing one about savings realized by the city for not cleaning up, or the court system for not having to have an expensive trial.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Nov 21, 2007

    A gallon of paint is expensive - but if you catch the criminals redhanded and they like to paint - let them paint over it and make it nice (plus pay for the paint. Might actually teach them a craft. Free labor and uses the energy of those who disrespect and commit crimes to fix it.

  • TruthBKnown Nov 21, 2007

    "BELIEFS IN GOD RIGHT SOME OF THEM DON'T BELEAVE IN OUR GOD. AMERICA IS FALLING APART BECAUSE OF BUSH THATS THE ONLY REASON. SO STOP WITH THE BIBLE THUMPING!"

    BUSH IS TO BLAME! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH! BLAME BUSH!

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Nov 21, 2007

    These cameras are a nice idea. But they have a very narrow market for their use. It has to be a place where there is a LONG history of graffiti. There are many places where graffiti shows up. But most of those places are not good uses for these cameras. You can't afford to put a $5,000 camera everywhere there is graffiti. It won't stop graffiti. But it will allow the arrest and conviction of the larger criminals who frequent these bad locations. There are some places, like an old concrete bridge in Pensacola, FL, that is known by the locals as Graffiti Bridge. They say it like they are proud of it. So I guess all graffiti isn't bad.

More...