On June 7, a man walked into an Express Mart on North 56th Street. He pulled
out a short-barreled shotgun and pointed it at the clerk and his 9-year-old
daughter who were behind the counter. After robbing about $300 from the
convenience store, the gunman fled the scene.
The following day, the gunman struck again. This time he robbed the Tierra
Mexicana grocery store in Plant City. He stole an unknown amount of money,
once again at gunpoint.
Ten days later, he stuck three more stores in Manatee County, Wimauma,
and Land O’ Lakes.
In some of the robberies, witnesses reported seeing a blue or green Ford
The robber may have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the “Eye
on Crime” cameras and license tag readers, which were installed
by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and funded by federal grants.
After footage showed the blue Ford Expedition driving near the Express
Mart around the time of the June 7 robbery, the authorities were able
to link the vehicle back to its owner, L. Green of Orlando, according
to a complaint.
Eventually, officials were able to identify their suspect, J. Rivera, who
was Green’s boyfriend.
Green told the detectives that Rivera would drive her vehicle whenever
he wanted, and that he often drove off while they were in Tampa and would
return with cigarettes. She assumed that he had gone to the store.
Investigators were led to a motel room where they found clothing worn in
some of the surveillance videos of the robberies, a box of latex gloves
that were identical to the ones worn by the robber, and ammunition for
a 12-guage shotgun.
The SUV yielded more evidence, including a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition.
Kevin Richardson, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives said that the Eye on Crime cameras were the key to solving
the robberies. The cameras are enhancing investigations and they helped
catch the suspect in this case, said Richardson.
Eye on Crime Cameras Proving Useful
According to the
Tampa Bay Tribune, the cameras were installed in 2010 due to a $1 million federal grant.
Because of additional grants, the number of cameras went from 20 to 38,
with six additional tag readers.
Ten more cameras and six more tag readers will be installed by Oct. 1,
said Christi Esquinaldo, the sheriff’s investigative lieutenant
in District 1.
Additionally, the cameras can be operated by detectives and road deputies
from their laptops when needed to check on criminal activity or aid in
When vehicles are stolen, or when children or people are abducted, the
tag reading cameras automatically screen license plate numbers of stolen
vehicles or vehicles wanted in connection with criminal investigations.
Esquinaldo said that the videos are stored for 30 days. If there is crime
in an area and there is a vehicle description, officers can review video
archives, focusing on the 30 minutes before and after an incident.
The cameras are gaining in popularity each year. The sheriff’s logo
and blue flashing lights make them very obvious. Most of the new cameras
will be installed on private property; for example, at apartment complexes
in high crime areas, with the permission of the property owners.
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