YOUNGSVILLE, N.C. — 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.