Mesa, Ariz., to Launch First Test of Downtown Security Cameras

Downtown businesses start surveillance network, with launch at newspaper office building


Feb. 3--Thieves looking to break into cars in downtown Mesa may want to think twice before they smash the glass.

The Downtown Mesa Association is trying to convince local businesses to install cameras that could capture footage of criminal acts in the city's one-mile city center. And the Tribune may become the first business to put that plan to the test.

The Tribune plans to launch a pilot program using its existing cameras to capture surveillance in real time. The cameras would be upgraded and monitored around the clock by Intela-Sight Inc., a local downtown business specializing in video surveillance, said Jack Blankenship, the chief operating officer of the Tribune.

"We have four cameras right now that monitor our parking lot and they are recorded," Blankenship said. "We can watch them live, but we don't have anybody that does that 24 hours a day. It's a passive system."

Tom Verploegen, the president of the Downtown Mesa Association, approached the Tribune with the idea of having real-time security cameras in the hope of curbing petty crimes.

"Most of it is nuisance stuff," Verploegen said. "You've got homeless folks and graffiti," he said, adding that there are also some instances of robbing cars.

His idea would be to upgrade the Tribune's cameras so they can pan, tilt and provide pictures clear enough to let employees at IntelaSight read license plates.

The cameras would monitor the Tribune's private property as well as public alleys, streets and sidewalks.

IntelaSight, which was recruited by Verploegen, installs cameras equipped with technology to connect the video to the Internet in real time.

Clients can also pay the company to monitor the video and even notify police of any incidents, according to the Downtown Mesa Association,

Verploegen said if this pilot program is launched, the Tribune would likely be responsible for paying for surveillance on its property while the Downtown Mesa Association would pay for surveillance on public property.

Crimes occurring on other private properties would be the responsibility of those owners.

So far, he said he does not know what the proposed pilot program would cost because its still in its early development stages.

If it's successful, Verploegen would like to see cameras installed in other parts of downtown.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.