Yakima graffiti cams help police solve other crimes

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Cameras used to catch taggers here in Yakima are now helping police solve other crimes. Things like burglaries getting caught on tape. KIMA learned officers are using the equipment to make more arrests.

"Got a clean wall moments before, now we got a painted wall," said Yakima Police Officer Rich Fowler.

Graffiti cameras sneak a bird's eye view, catching criminal activity in process. Originally designed to track taggers, the cameras are spotting other crimes too.

"We found another use for them for repetitive crimes out there. Whether it would be trespassers, burglars," said Fowler.

Illegal dumpings, copper theft and other acts of malicious mischief are all being caught on camera. YPD said they are becoming a common sight on tape.

Of course the goal is to catch the people doing it. Police told Action News city cameras have recorded almost a hundred crimes besides tagging this year.

"They'll take a picture of anything, day, nighttime, whatever," Fowler told us.

This high-tech equipment helped police find several teenagers who shattered a window at Aaron's furniture store several months ago.

"They did a police report and all that stuff. And as far as I'm concerned, you know, everything was taken care of in an appropriate manner," said Donato Garcia, store manager.

One of the 23 cameras faces Donato Garcia's store front. Since the incident, he told us he hasn't had any other serious problems. However, he still deals with littering and graffiti.

"I take it as if I was my own police, so it's upsetting. I would really love to see less of it," said Garcia.

So do the police. And, they say the cameras are helping a lot more than they expected.

Yakima police are trying to get more cameras. However, there's not a lot of room in the budget.

The cameras are moved to different hot spots around the city.