Tifton-- It's a fairly constant problem, armed robbers sticking up gas stations and convenience stores across South Georgia. One thing that sometimes leads to their arrest and conviction is evidence from surveillance cameras. Unfortunately for some stores in Tifton, that's the one thing that was missing.
Several small pictures on a television screen aim to capture big crime in color. But there's been a problem lately in Tifton.
"Unfortunately it happens rather often," said Detective Raleigh Coarsey with the Tifton Police Department.
Robbers and shoplifters enter gas stations and convenience stores and leave with much more than they paid for. Watching eyes from cameras would normally capture the illegal shopping sprees on tape. However, some businesses recently didn't or couldn't press record.
"Video surveillance systems were either in the store but not operational or were not even installed on the premises," said Coarsey. Two different stores in Tifton were not recording video when robbers hit in the past week or so.
"In those instances, it would have made a huge difference," said Coarsey. Detective Raleigh Coarsey with Tifton Police says criminals sometimes can tell when a store does not have working surveillance sysems. Those stores can then become easy targets.
"In some cases, they're clearly aware of the surveillance systems in place either that's not in use or they're cautious of where they look or where they enter the store," said Coarsey. So Tifton Police encourages businesses to utilize technology. Police can use other methods like fingerprinting to catch a suspect but Coarsey says nothing can make a charge stick like surveillance can.
"When a judge or jury sees that, there's no replacing it," said Coarsey. There's no replacing a sense of security either. "If you don't have a video surveillance system, sooner or later you may wish you did," said Coarsey.
It's a price that some businesses are now paying after they got surprised with their eyes closed.
Detective Coarsey says cases are easier for the District Attorney's office to prosecute when they have those surveillance tapes to review. A decent surveillance camera can cost as little as $200.