Web cams help catch computer thieves - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Web cams help catch computer thieves

By Andy Jenks - bio | email                                      

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - School security is improving so fast it appears that local thieves are falling behind. The laptops that Henrico students use are embedded with a little surprise, that produces big time images.

Not the blurry, pixilated photos you're used to seeing. It's as good of a suspect photo as Henrico police will ever get. And the man in the image, apparently has little idea, he's being watched. Probably because he can't see the tiny camera embedded somewhere in the computer.

"Yeah, we were very pleased with how the enhancements have been taking place with the technology we have in our hands today," said Lloyd Brown, Director of Technology for Henrico County Public Schools. 

The case began in February, when nine laptops were stolen from Pinchbeck Elementary School, following a break-in. Each of those computers was equipped with a tiny camera that can be operated "remotely" allowing school officials to snap photos of the suspect.

"We can help and work with the police department to identify where our computer could be located," Brown said. 

Computer experts say it's a crime fighting technique that continues to grow.

"The technology is progressing very, very quickly as they make new sensors to take higher resolution pictures and video," said Kelly Davis of Richmond Computer Guy. 

Web cam technology has evolved a lot over the years. These days, the cameras are a fraction of the size, and produce high definition images.

"You can get a 10 megapixel image from a camera that's very high quality," Davis said. 

In Henrico, the cameras help keep tabs on thousand of computers. But they're only activated if they're reported stolen. And school officials say, they're a success.

"We've had several cases where we've been able to close the case very quickly and the police have been able to make arrests," Brown said.

The Pinchbeck case is still open, though. And police are hoping the public can help end a two-month-long investigation. If you recognized the man in the photo call Henrico Police at 501-5000.

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