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February 16, 2011 05:55 PM

Laundromat Thieves Caught On Camera

Brandon, SD


From high-definition to 3-D, technology has certainly enhanced our viewing experience in front of the TV or movie screen.
But advances in surveillance are also providing a sharper focus for police in capturing crooks caught on tape.

The transition from grainy, black and white video surveillance to a new generation of sharp digital imagery can't come soon enough for South Dakota law enforcement. A laundromat in Brandon made the upgrade last summer, just in time to help police make three quick arrests.

Not only can you see a theft taking place at Brandon Coin Laundry. You can hear the gleeful giggling accompanying the crime.

"It really violates you as a person, because you're looking at somebody laughing and having fun while disrupting your life," Brandon Coin Laundry Manager Jay Masur said.

The DVR images show the teenage suspects prying open a soap dispenser and helping themselves to coins and laundry detergent. At one point, they looked right at the camera, assuming it was only a decoy.

"Now that there's some metal bracelets around some wrists, it shows that it was real," Masur said.

The clear digital recording allowed police to quickly identify the suspects.

"Once in a while, in a great while, things just fall right into place and we had this wrapped up in few hours," Brandon Police Detective Wayne Ellingson said.

Masur is urging other businesses to upgrade their video surveillance systems, saying the added expense essentially pays for itself when a crime is committed.

"Just the fact that we haven't had many thefts with this laundromat says a lot for the security system that we have," Masur said.

"I wish every business in town had this kind of system in it," Ellingson said.

And for a business that's open 24/7, a digital surveillance system helps guard against customers who may try to clean out the laundromat.

The suspects are ages 17, 18 and 19. They're charged with petty theft and intentional damage to property.
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