HD security cameras credited for helping bust fencing ring


The haul of stolen goods fills half of the underground garage at Central Police Station. There are more than 1,000 items worth up to $2 million dollars. Most were taken from car break-ins, a lot of them at Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero.

Police arrested three suspects last week and charged them with operating a massive fencing ring.

Their big break came when some of the 24 state-of-the-art security cameras installed at the Pier 39 garage captured the suspects breaking into a car. A camera also shot the getaway car's license plate.

"These were very high definition digital cameras that have been installed over the years at the wharf to the point where you can see gum on the sidewalks," Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District spokesperson Troy Campbell said.

The security cameras are now everywhere at the wharf, which is always a magnet for those who prey on tourists.

The cannery has perhaps the most advanced HD cameras. The Academy of Art, the new owner of the sprawling landmark, installed 35 of them all around the complex.

Now merchants at the wharf are considering adding even more, especially in light of the success of the garage cameras in the recent bust.

"We've been actually going through a process right now of evaluating all the cameras and making sure we're fully covered and that there are no black holes in the district," Campbell said.

San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Santos was involved in the operation that led to the arrests of the suspected fences.

"These cameras are so invaluable; if we had more, we'd probably have less crime," he said.

Santos said the auto burglars used spotters in garages, targeting people who parked their cars and putting their valuables in the trunk before leaving.

"If you're going to go to a location stop a couple of blocks away and then put your valuables in there," he said.

The wharf is not the only place that's planning to increase security cameras. The merchants group at Union Square recently approved a pilot program to increase HD quality security cameras there.

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