JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Crooks aren't always caught red-handed. Oftentimes, police rely on witness statements, tips, and leads to bring a criminal to justice. But sometimes there's an even better witness to a crime: a security camera.
Sometimes, those cameras are fake and serve simply as a deterrent. Other times, businesses don't have them at all. If a criminal knows that, they may use it to their advantage.
According to a Jan. 2018 Jonesboro Police Department incident report, a man approached a woman at her work and made inappropriate comments and gestures to her.
"[Suspect 1] has made comments to [Victim 1] about knowing there are not any cameras at the business and this made [Victim 1] concerned for her safety at work," the report reads.
If there's someone who knows the benefits of a good security system, it's John Hardin.
"When you catch them, that is the biggest deterrent there ever is because, like I said, news travels fast," Hardin told Region 8 News.
Hardin has owned Sundance Townhomes at Word Cove and Melrose Street in Jonesboro since 2011. He touts the surveillance system and low crime rates in an area of town known by the Jonesboro Police Department as a crime hot spot.
"They can see 'Hey, nothing's gonna happen to me,'" Hardin said.
But he admits, it's not always been that way.
"People used to be scared to move out here," he said.
After he bought it, Jonesboro police told Hardin they were there a lot during the first 8 months of 2011.
"There were over 200 calls for service to this apartment complex," Hardin said.
On average, Jonesboro police responded to the area 25 times a month.
"They weren't catching anybody either," Hardin said. "About 10% of them got caught red-handed after that, there wasn't a way to tell who did what."
So he worked to change that.
Hardin strategically placed cameras, and a lot of them, around his property.
"Nobody knew there was a camera system out here so we put those little pin cameras in a big box and all of a sudden we started noticing as people were walking down the street, if they were a bad guy they'd walk away from that camera," Hardin said.
He admits, initially some of those cameras were fakes. They served strictly as a deterrent. It still worked.
"We had about 35 calls to service to the police department from September to the end of the year and that was mostly us calling because we saw something on the camera," Hardin said.
Hardin did upgrade the system by replacing the fake cameras with real ones, and buying better cameras as the years went on. Hardin told Region 8 News he estimates he's spent $20,000 on his security system since 2011.
Now, he wants to see others get on board, and not just businesses and homeowners.
"I think the city could partner with some of these apartment complexes and areas of crime and put some cameras up on light poles somewhere and monitor them," Hardin said.
Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said it's something that's on their radar.
During the 2017 Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Fest, JPD tested out the security system SkyCop.
"I think it could be big for us to purchase one of these and use it at other functions around the city," Elliott said.
They're also looking at systems like Hardin mentioned too.
"There's camera-mounted solutions that you can add to neighborhood areas that we'd like to end up having mounted in some of these areas just to help monitor," Elliott said.
Some systems even detect gunshots.
"So the camera can redirect itself to the area that gunshots came from," he explained.
The only issue is cost. Elliott said the cameras start at $4,000 and go up.
"If you have to have a protective box to put it in, that drives the cost up even further, " Elliott said. "We look for any kind of grant monies that are out there to offset the expense."
Until that happens, Hardin encourages everyone to check into it.
"Now it's so much cheaper, there's no reason not to," Hardin said. "It should be part of your arsenal."