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Cameras, cameras everywhere

The Story

Almost anywhere you look, a camera is looking back at you. The silent sentinels gaze down from on high in subway stations and convenience stores, rotate in their darkened glass domes in office lobbies, stare unblinkingly from bank machines. As we see in this clip, footage captured by security cameras is helping convict murderers and thieves, and may deter others from lawlessness. But there's a cost: we may be getting too used to being watched, and changing our behaviour in front of those cameras.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 15, 1995
Guest(s): Richard Chenoweth, George Lepine, Tom Wright
Host: Paul Hunter
Reporter: Ron Charles
Duration: 2:39

Did You know?

• Melanie Carpenter, 23, was abducted and murdered on Jan. 6, 1995. She was taken from a tanning salon in Surrey, B.C., where she was working alone. The afternoon of the abduction, a bank security camera captured 37-year-old Fernand Auger making a $300 withdrawal using Carpenter's bank card. The image was televised nationally the next day, and an arrest warrant was issued for Auger, who was on parole for armed robbery. Auger committed suicide before he could be arrested.

• Two-year-old James Bulger was abducted and murdered Feb. 12, 1993 in Liverpool, England. A closed circuit camera in a shopping centre caught Bulger being abducted by two ten-year-old boys, who beat the toddler to death and left his body on a railway track. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were convicted by a jury and sentenced to be detained indefinitely. In 2001, after serving eight years, the killers (then 18) were released.

• Cameras have been involved in many other infamous Canadian crimes. In July 1986, 11-year-old track star Alison Parrott was lured to Toronto's Varsity Stadium by someone posing as a photographer. She was raped and murdered. The last known sighting of the girl was by a bank security camera, which caught what is believed to be her legs walking along a sidewalk near the stadium. It was not until 1999 that DNA testing helped convict Francis Carl Roy of the crime.

• On April 5, 1994, three men held up the trendy Just Desserts cafe in midtown Toronto, and 23-year-old Georgina "Vivi" Leimonis was shot and killed. A grainy videotape from the restaurant's surveillance camera was aired on television, prompting calls from witnesses who said they recognized the men. The notorious case, marked by racial tensions, became one of the longest criminal trials in Canadian history. It ended in December 1999 with the manslaughter conviction of two of the three accused.

• After Toronto 10-year-old Holly Jones was abducted and murdered in May 2003, police gathered video from security cameras along Toronto's waterfront, including shipyards and bars, in the hopes that the killer had been caught on tape. No video evidence was found. On June 20th, police arrested Michael Briere, 35, a software developer at a west-end address near Holly's home. Police Chief Julian Fantino credited "old-fashioned" police work with cracking the case.


The Long Lens of the Law more