Mumbai needs better surveillance

Yesterday, this paper carried a front-page report about a heist in SoBo’s swish Oberoi-Trident hotel, where three Rolex and three Panerai watches, worth Rs 36 lakh, were stolen from a display case in a vestibule connecting the Oberoi and Trident hotels. A low-vision CCTV camera had managed to capture blurry images of the culprits, the report said.

The police are on the hunt for a trio of burglars, who carried out the theft within 20 minutes. However, poor CCTV footage is proving to be a major hurdle.

The blurry videos have given little clue to the identity of the thieves, who executed a well-planned robbery on the night of September 30.

It is shocking that a hotel of 5-star stature has low-vision cameras that offer such ill-defined images. Cameras, when installed, should be of the highest quality to serve the purpose they are intended for: providing security.

When you get indistinguishable images, they make CCTVs seem little more than visual props; since that hotel was targeted in the 26/11 attacks, one would imagine that the management would install state-of-the-art security and high-resolution CCTV cameras, but the images tell another story.

In fact, several infrastructure projects across Mumbai and public institutions have CCTV cameras of questionable quality. We have read numerous reports about how sleuths are poring over CCTV images, but find it difficult to use it because the images are so blurry or the camera malfunctioned.

In a high-tech age, where we have to be one up on criminals who have aced through technology, malfunctioning or low-quality video surveillance is inexcusable.

Hi-tech cameras, razor-sharp images, regular maintenance and checking is the way to go. Otherwise, we may only fool ourselves.

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