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Sheriff asking people with surveillance cameras to sign up for Eye Watch

Sheriff asking people with surveillance cameras to sign up. (WPEC)

Catching crooks in their tracks.

Sheriff’s detectives are stepping up their game, using your home surveillance camera to catch criminals.

Lots of people have security cameras in their homes or businesses.

But now the Martin County Sheriff’s Office wants to get a better idea of which houses and businesses have cameras, to go after crooks like never before.

“I think it’s important because you could keep your family and your belongings safe,” says Oscar Calzadilla, a homeowner.

Oscar Calzadilla is an A/C contractor, married with a teenage son. He’s lived near Stuart for five years.

“Basically we have a camera that protects the entrance to my garage,” he said as we walked around his home.

Calzadilla showed us the external surveillance cameras at his house.

“We got one on the rear entrance. That way it covers the rear door,” he explained.

He’s got at least six surveillance cameras outside his home, showing his lawn, vehicles, and driveway from several angles, and also portions of the street, recording 24 hours a day.

“I honestly think if you don’t have the cameras you are more vulnerable to being victimized,” Calzadilla said.

The sheriff’s office is looking for people like Oscar, hoping homeowners and businesses that have external surveillance cameras will register with the sheriff’s office, so in the event of a crime in that area, they’ll know who has cameras and where they are.

“That’s what this program is designed to do, give us an idea where there are cameras that may have caught a glimpse of the suspect,” said William Snyder, Martin County Sheriff.

As it stands now, when a crime is committed, detectives or deputies typically have to go door to door through the neighborhood asking who has an external surveillance camera. Then they need to ask if the person would be willing to let deputies see the video. This can be very time-consuming. Sheriff Snyder says they want to develop a computer map showing all the homes and businesses in Martin County that have external surveillance cameras, so they will know just by checking the map where the cameras are located.

Surveillance video can be crucial in solving crimes.

It was surveillance video that helped nab the killer in the Tricia Todd murder case in 2016.

“A business video camera caught a glimpse of him walking by and we were able to confront him with that and it was the crack in the case that we needed and it shattered his alibi,” said Sheriff Snyder.

The sheriff says there are thousands of homes and businesses in Martin County that have surveillance cameras. If they can get them to register with the sheriff’s office, so that they know who has cameras and who’s willing to share the video with law enforcement, that will be a big step forward.

“That would be huge for us. That would be enormously helpful. What it does is it helps us spread a much broader net if we know where there are cameras,” Snyder said.

Those who have cameras and register with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office Eye Watch program get a decal for their home. The program is voluntary.

So far, about two-dozen homeowners and businesses with external surveillance cameras have signed up.

To register, call Trisha Kukuvka, Martin County Sheriff’s Office at 772-320-4737 or via email at tmkukuvka@sheriff.martin.fl.us.


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