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Caught on CCTV: How 24/7 Cameras Can Help Deter, Solve Crime

Video 'doesn't lie,' police said.
by Arianne Merez
Jan 8, 2021
Photo/s: shutterstock
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How many times have we read the words "sapul sa CCTV" or "kuha sa CCTV" in crime reports? Too many probably, as video surveillance has become an indispensable tool for investigators.

The death of flight attendant Christine Dacera in a Makati hotel room again underscored the use of CCTV footage when there are conflicting narratives in the case. They're everywhere from parking lots to elevators and in Dacera's case, the hallway of her hotel.

Authorities have restarted the investigation on the case of Dacera, who was found lifeless in the bathtub of her room on New Year's Day after a night of partying. 

Dacera's mother,  Sharon, had said that hotel CCTV footage that captured moments of the New Year's Eve party that got bigger than expected has raised a 'big question.' Gone are the days of on witness statements alone.

WHAT DID CCTV FOOTAGE IN DACERA CASE SHOW?

CCTV Video of Christine Dacera's Last Moments Raises 'Big Question' 

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Christine Dacera's Hotel Party Crew Recount Her Final Moments

For investigators, CCTV footage is"very relevant" in assessing crime incidents, Philippine National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said.

"This helps the police find out the truth. Kung wala kasing CCTV tapos walang witnesses, mahihirapan na i-solve ang isang crime o malaman ang katotohanan sa isang insidente," Usana told reportr in a phone interview.

In the Dacera case, CCTV footage clearly showed how the party from Dacera's room, 2209, crossed over to Room 2207. The flight attendant and her companions shuffled between the rooms from New Year's Eve to the wee hours of Jan. 1.

The challenge now for investigators is to find out what happened behind closed doors.

How much can CCTV cameras see?

Instagram/xtinedacera
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How much CCTV cameras can cover depends on the type of cameras that establishments invest in, said Carlos Mendez, general manager of the United Scouts Veterans Security and Liberty Agency.

Typical high-definition CCTV cameras that came out as early as 2018 can provide a clear 120-degree view, Mendez said, noting that one can clearly see and identify faces and activities up to 20 feet from such types of cameras.

"After ng 20 feet nagde-deteriorate na yung quality, lumalabo na. Mas malapit sa camera, kitang-kita mo yung details like yung mukha," he told reportr.

Older CCTV cameras, while still useful, usually produce grainy footage, Mendez said.

For places that have a lot of money transactions such as casinos, banks, and supermarkets, "specialized" CCTV cameras are usually installed. These can clearly capture nametags of people, Mendez said.

MORE DACERA CASE UPDATES:

Dacera Autopsy: 'Too Late' to Check for Rape, Says Forensics Expert

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Christine Dacera's Family Believes She Was Drugged, Sexually Abused

Should you have a CCTV camera in your home?

Ideally, according to Mendez, a typical two-story house should have at least three CCTV cameras that cover entry and exit points.

Bigger establishments such as hotels and casinos should have more and should be able to cover places of convergence and areas with high traffic aside from all entry and exit points.

"Ang CCTV, yung effectiveness is based also on how much a company is willing to invest. It means more cameras, with a certain person assigned to monitor, it becomes more effective," Mendez said.

How reliable is the footage?

For the PNP, CCTV footage is very reliable since the cameras "don't lie," Usana said.

"Itong CCTV naman ay sinasabing hindi magsisinungaling kasi yung CCTV, hindi naman kailangan magkaroon ng adulteration, so ito ay isang bagay na napakahalaga sa investigation," he said.

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"Maari siyang magbigay ng linaw sa accusation sa isang tao o incident in question."

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But while highly reliable, the cameras also have their limits given the need to respect and adhere to privacy laws, Usana said. Cameras that are easily identifiable by the public are more encouraged than discreet ones.

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"Deterrent ang CCTV cameras ng crime. Kasi kung aware ang mga tao na may camera, mas maingat sila. Kung nagbabalak sila ng masama, they'd think twice before doing it kasi may camera," he said.

For Mendez, not everything should depend on CCTV cameras alone.

"It helps a lot. But there are also things that CCTV cameras cannot cover so it's not the be-all of security," he said.

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