Vietnam city dwellers help police by paying for street cameras

Thanh Nien News

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Street camera data transmitted to screens at the command center of the Ward 12 Police in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap District. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Residents in many Ho Chi Minh City wards have paid police to install cameras in public areas near their homes.
The cameras, which were recommended by the police, are connected to the ward command centers. The surveillance system was first implemented in Ward 12 of Go Vap District and Ward 13 of District 3, Tuoi Tre reported.
Go Vap's twelfth ward now has 90 street cameras and 38 walkie talkies issued to residents.
The total equipment costs were around VND350 million (US$16,625); VND300 million was contributed by the residents.
District 3's thirteenth ward has installed cameras in three alleys with a VND130 million donation from residents.
In one incident, Le Thanh Hung, police chief of Go Vap's Ward 12, noticed a suspicious person in an alley; local militiamen were on the scene ninety seconds later, after a walkie-talkie alert.
Hung said security in the area has improved a lot since the first street camera was installed last August.
He said he thought of the idea after seeing the difference in security between areas near companies that installed camera and the rest of the ward where more than 1,000 families rent out rooms or apartments.
Fights and robberies happened quite often, but not around the companies, Hung said.
He said since the cameras have been installed, police and militiamen have busted one robbery and prevented a gang assault on a local family.
He said more cameras will be installed in the ward according to resident wishes.
Tran Huu Phuc, deputy chief of District 3's Ward 13 Police, said at least four burglaries and two robberies occurred in the ward in a short period of 2012, but that was fixed with the help of the cameras.
Phuc added that four bag snatches have occurred since then, but police managed to bust three of the suspects.
One robber Vu Xuan Truong was arrested for snatching a woman’s necklace on Le Van Sy Street in October after the cameras captured his profile and motorbike license plate number.
To Thi My Dung, who rents 20 rooms on Phan Huy Ich Street in Go Vap District, said laptops and cell phones were once lost nearly every day in her area, so when the police suggested that she contribute some money to install cameras, she agreed without a second thought.
Dung said nothing has been stolen since.
She's even installed software on her television that allows her to keep a watch on the corridors of all her rented rooms.
Her customers said they don’t feel uncomfortable, but safer.
All of the surveillance zones carry a notice board to let people know they are being recorded and private acts are not recommended.
Nguyen Ngoc Tung, a representative of the ward's residents, said the police only ask for contributions from rich families in the area, particularly landlords who directly benefit from the cameras.
Ho Van Hiep, District 3's police chief, and Huynh Tri Thanh of Go Vap District said they plan to replicate the model all over their districts.

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