Pilot program will let NYC businesses share real-time surveillance video with NYPD

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Pilot program lets NYC businesses share surveillance feeds with NYPD
Sonia Rincon is lvie in Harlem with details on pilot program aimed in stopping retail theft.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City is fighting retail theft with innovative technology that will allow businesses to share real-time video feeds with police.

Mayor Adams and the NYPD on Thursday announced the launch of a pilot program utilizing technology to combat the rapid rise of retail theft, quality-of-life offenses and crime overall.

The community-based program will enable businesses to voluntarily share information in real-time with the NYPD through existing closed-circuit television cameras.

The hope is to deter thieves, but when a crime does happen, it will also make it easier for police to track down suspects.

"New Yorkers don't feel like things are working when everything from toothpaste to laundry detergent is locked up, and businesses across the five boroughs should be able to operate without fear of losing income because of retail theft," said Adams. "We cannot allow shoplifters and organized crime rings to prey on businesses any longer."

For example, Mushtari Hardware on 125th Street in Harlem has had that link from its cameras directly to the NYPD for the last couple of weeks.

And in that time, it's stopped locking up some of the items most popular with shoplifters, like cleaning supplies, knowing that the NYPD can see and identify anyone with sticky fingers quickly and grab them -- because they're usually repeat offenders.

Along 125th Street, businesses big and small are now invited to enroll in the pilot program with the NYPD that the city pays for, connecting a box that looks like a router -- made by the company Fusus by Axon -- that gives detectives at the local precinct real-time access to cameras, regardless of their setup.

"But it's really important that the way they work is still at the behest or the control of the business owner," said Chris Lindeau with Fusus by Axon.

The 125th Street Business Improvement District is actually the second BID to test it out. The head of Flushing's BID says it's been working there for a few months.

"Our local precinct was able to catch a perpetrator within 24 hours and with that case, the shop owners and property owners feel safer," said Flushing BID Executive Director DianSong Yu.

NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban hopes the technology leads to more effective prosecutions.

"The capability of business owners to share information with detectives seamlessly is key. It launches more effective investigations, builds stronger cases, and leads to more effective prosecutions," Caban said.

Shoplifting arrests are up 5% this year over this time last year. But NYPD officials say that's actually sign that more people are getting caught.

The mayor says the same 500 or so people were arrested 7,600 times last year, accounting for about 30% of the shoplifting in the city. He says the goal is not to incarcerate these nonviolent offenders, but to get them to stop doing it.

The program's launch also comes just one month after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $45 million anti-theft plan to assure merchants that state and local lawmakers are not tone deaf to retail theft.

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