MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Cameras have become a vital tool for police because they can produce strong evidence when a crime occurs.
But can you count on them to capture video evidence if you are the victim of a crime?
That question had one Memphis man concerned when a thief broke into his truck he had parked next to a camera — but Memphis Police said they didn’t have any video of it.
Stewart White said some friends called him to meet for lunch and watch a football game. It was the afternoon of Sunday, January 22nd when he met them at a shopping center off Ridgeway and Park in East Memphis.
He saw security guards patrolling and what looked like a police SkyCop Camera in the parking lot. He says he “felt comfortable” when he parked next to it.
White was in the restaurant for a half an hour. When he came out, he says he saw the damage to the truck and knew exactly what happened. He was the victim of a burglar.
He snapped these pictures showing a giant mess. The back, left window was shattered.
“The person had to climb into the window in that little time and get into the front seat, burst open the glove box and exited out the same way,” White said.
Memphis police assessed the damage, jotted down what happened and drew up their report.
White said before the officers left, he pointed to the big camera he parked close to and asked if the video would help solve the crime.
“He said they are privately rented,” White said.
White said officers explained there wasn’t any footage and even noted that in their report that video was “not available.”
MPD’s public information officer told us the same thing.
But the property owner, LPI Memphis, was adamant their security cameras “have been and continue to be functional,” and said they work closely with MPD to provide all requested security footage within 24 hours.
The security company’s contact information was right on the camera, so we called them. An employee assured us the camera was working and told us there was footage matching the details in the police report.
We asked MPD again why they didn’t have any video, especially since video evidence has generated leads and arrests. They responded, “officers were advised that footage was not available.” It’s unclear who advised them.
We gave police the security company’s contact information and days later, MPD followed up with us. They now have a copy of the security video.
They say no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
“The report says these guys were looking for weapons. I had none, so they did a lot of damage but didn’t get anything,” White said.
There’s no telling where the thief went after breaking into White’s truck. Another car in the same parking lot was also broken into.
Hours later, several more were rifled through at St. Francis Hospital and in shopping centers a mile away.
On that Sunday alone, we found out MPD took at least 30 reports of theft from motor vehicles. Credit cards, wallets, computers, phones and six guns were all listed as stolen.
“Very frustrating,” White said.
These crimes have been happening in all corners of the city. White just wanted police to have every piece of evidence possible to help build their case and nab those responsible.
WREG Investigators are going to keep looking into this matter to see how many times there has been video of a crime, but police didn’t seem to get a copy of it. We also want to know any easier ways police can get copies.