NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – High-tech cameras are keeping watch over the Eastwood Mall in Niles and the city of Niles.

The mall partnered with the City of Niles and the Niles Police Department to deploy Flock Safety Cameras in strategic locations around the property, and it’s paying off.

The cameras can capture detailed images of vehicles and license plates to help police investigate crimes.

The rollout of the system began in August and to date, 20 cases have been solved in Niles because of the system, according to Niles Police Capt. John Marshall.

“We went into this with the expectations that it would perform, but not with the expectations that the performance has shown,” Marshall said.

The latest case was started Thursday morning as another stolen vehicle was found. Michael Jackson, 41, of Farrell, was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property.

The most interesting case started with a picture and stolen fryers from Mount Carmel. It could’ve ruined the festival, but police found the car and saved the church $2,000.

“In a case where we’d have a description, not necessarily a license plate, it often gives us a license plate that we can further then investigate and talk to the person who owns the car,” Marshall said.

Niles has 19 of the Flock cameras, including at the mall and around schools. The city has already budgeted for six more.

The Mall has had great success with them too. A camera sent an alert out about someone with four felony arrest warrants on the property and he was caught. A shoplifter with $600 in items was also caught trying to get away on a bicycle. The cameras could be a big boost during the holiday shopping season.

“What this does is allows us to narrow down that complaint and general description by timeframe,” Marshall said.

The cameras offer a window into people that are coming and going. It’s surprising the word among criminals hasn’t spread yet, but the more the cameras work, they may want to stop away from Niles.

“If that’s the byproduct of the cameras, then absolutely that’s something that we can hope for, too, because at the end of the day, it minimizes our crime rate,” Marshall said.

Two other local communities are in the stages of considering using these cameras.
They are used in 2,000 places across America.

That suspect accused of having $600 in merchandise took it from JCPenney, according to Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the Cafaro Company. Christopher Doll, 36, was charged with theft.

“Within minutes, a Flock camera captured an image of Doll getting away on a bicycle,” Bell said.  

On Sept. 23, Bell said the system identified a stolen minivan as it entered mall property and alerted police. Police arrested the driver, 48-year-old Sheldon Robinson and recovered the van.

Robinson was charged with receiving stolen property and fleeing and eluding. The case was bound over to the Trumbull County grand jury. An arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 14.