Keeping watch in Lake St. Louis

Lake St. Louis Police Department joins growing trend of asking residents and businesses to register personal surveillance systems to help fight crime

By Brett Auten

In an effort to help streamline investigations and help detour burglaries, the Lake St. Louis Police Department is calling on its citizens to lend a simple, helping hand.

There is no question that the presence of a home or business outdoor video surveillance system is a warning to prowling crooks that they are being monitored and recorded. But, while video surveillance may dissuade them from cracking your safe haven, it is also helpful in investigating crimes that may have happen in your neighborhood.

The Lake Saint Louis Police Department is asking residents and businesses, across its jurisdiction, to assist in safeguarding their communities by registering their privately-owned video surveillance systems with its new Community Camera Program.

By registering your video surveillance system with the department, investigators
can quickly identify nearby cameras that may have captured criminal activity.

“This is not our invention,” Lake St. Louis Police Chief Chris DiGiuseppi said. “Most of the communities (in St. Charles County) have it and we needed to get on board with it also. To have a central database of cameras like this helps when an incident occurs. Normally, we would canvas the entire area to see who has a system in place. Now, we will be able to go to the database, ask if we can see a copy, and hopefully it will generate some leads and solve the crime.”

Following registration, you would only be contacted by the Lake Saint Louis Police Department if there is a criminal incident in the vicinity of your home or business. Once registered, Lake St. Louis police personnel may request to view your surveillance system footage to assist in the investigation.

Unlocked vehicles are, and always have been, the key target for criminals. You name it – guns, cash, computers, garage door openers – all have been left unattended in Lake St. Louis neighborhoods. While security cameras are all well and fine, the best deterrent is your most basic.

“Since January, we’ve had 40 cars broken into,” Lake St. Louis Police Captain Chad Layton said. “Thirty-eight of those cars were unlocked. Take a moment and make sure you secure your property.  This is a problem throughout the county.”

Through criminal interviews, Layton said that suspects have stated: “We come out (Lake St. Louis) because people leave everything unlocked and we take it. …That’s my job is to come out here and steal your stuff.”

The program is in its early stages as only 25 had signed up as of last week.

A wide array of companies have turned the home security system industry on its head by allowing homeowners to shun traditional professionally-installed security systems by creating smaller devices and shifting the task of securing houses from traditional companies and giving the option to take matters into the homeowners own hands.

With remotely accessible features, high-definition video streams, motion detection, cloud recording and an intercom, the options are endless. Video doorbells are more commonplace and serve as the gateways to the do-it-yourself home security game, and have grown to become one of law enforcement’s most useful investigative tools.

“The wireless camera has changed everything,” DiGiuseppi said. “A lot of people had home security systems when I started in the early 1990s so now having these cameras in a lot of our homes is not a surprise.”

To enroll in the Community Camera Program is a simple process. Just go to lakesaintlouis.com/2370/Community-Camera-Program.