Eastwood Mall Adds Cameras to Catch Criminals

NILES, Ohio – The Eastwood Mall is months into a new strategy to catch criminals on the property.

In August, the mall installed its first of a series of Flock Safety cameras on the property after being approached by Niles Police Department. Since then, 15 cases have been resolved using the information from the system.

The technology is tied to roughly 1,200 law enforcement agencies in addition to several other businesses and homeowner associations. Using automatic license plate readers, a patented “vehicle footprint” allows for information to be broken down with captured evidence and made into searchable queries.

Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro Company and public Information officer, says Flock Safety has approached public safety organizations over the past few years.

“The company is based in Atlanta and uses high-definition camera technology, as well as artificial intelligence, to mine data on vehicles that come and go from various areas,” he says. “It’s not used like typical traffic cameras that are used to catch speeders or what have you. This doesn’t do that; it just monitors the comings and goings of different vehicles.”

Vehicle information is stored and can detect vehicles such as those associated with arrest warrants and stolen vehicles.

“It doesn’t store data about individuals, but it does flag vehicles associated with criminal activity,” adds Bell.

Bell says security at the mall has been a growing consideration.

“We have been working very steadily in recent years to improve the layers of security in and around the mall,” said Bell. “We want this to be as safe and comfortable of a facility as we could possibly offer to people in the community and if we can take advantage of the latest technology to help us do that, that’s a wonderful thing.”

The systems so far have been overall successful, Bell says. The system is a way to flag those breaking the law and intercept them.

Most recently, on Nov. 7, the Flock security technology was used to catch a 36-year-old man who had allegedly stolen more that $600 of clothing and jewelry at JcPenney. The camera was able to catch the man leaving on his bicycle and allowed for burglary charges to be filed.

Another incident in late September also helped the recovery of a stolen vehicle and allowed law enforcement to detain a man who was wanted on four active felony arrests.

“It adds an added layer of assurance,” Bell said.

Bell says he believes the system gives a message to the criminal actors who don’t think they are being watched.

“This is a warning to anyone who has ill intent to stay away. Because we are going to flag you and we are going to catch you,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.