Surveillance Videos Leaving More Questions Than Clues

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Bryan has recently been victim to a slew of armed robberies, particularly targeted at convenience stores. Police have looked to video surveillance cameras for clues.

However, some of these systems are turning out to be less than helpful in solving the crimes.

A city ordinance requires Bryan businesses to have video surveillance cameras in place. But the recent robberies have left police questioning the quality of some of those video systems.

"The requirement now basically states you'll have a video recording system, and what that meant when the ordinance first went into place is mostly store owners putting in a VHS system," said Peter Scheets, an assistant chief of the Bryan Police Department. "If you reuse a VHS tape, it degrades to the point where when you do have an occurrence and the tape comes to the police department, there's not much we can do with it."

Some of the tapes received from VHS systems are degraded to a point that police have trouble even making out figures.

A local Easy Shop off FM 2818 is one convenience store that recently upgraded to a more enhanced video surveillance system.

"The best part of the system is that it's digital," said Easy Shop Store Manager Samir Maknojia. "We don't have to change the tapes everyday. Everything is stored on the computer."

The newer digital systems have clearer pictures and can zoom in and print pictures of suspects, which police find very useful.

Scheets said, "It should help us reduce or eliminate these robberies when they occur. We'll have a chance at identifying the suspect, making an arrest and putting a stop to it."

Scheets says a proposal is in the works that would require local businesses to upgrade their systems.

"What we're recommending is that they go to a digital video system," said Scheets. "If it's a high pixel count, we can come in and pull out details that we couldn't by any other means."