Bank Robbery Photos in Need of Upgrade

Honolulu police continue to search for a man who robbed the First Hawaiian Bank on ward avenue Wednesday morning. It was the third time in 13 days the branch was hit. Police sources say they believe all three crimes were committed by the same man. A bank surveillance camera captured this photo of the suspect who was wearing a blue surgical mask and a fisherman's hat.

The Honolulu Police Department has a 95-percent success rate when it comes to solving bank robberies. But would that number rise or would cases be solved quicker if photos were of higher quality? It's a topic that's been discussed across the nation by law enforcement agencies that encourage businesses and banks to upgrade aging surveillance systems.

We've seen the images before bank robbers caught in the act of a crime. But often times, the picture is not worth a thousand words.

"Old systems run on the analogue system which the image quality is not as clear maybe a little cloudy," said Christi Yoshida of Cam Security.

According to national law enforcement data, 98 percent of robbed banks have interior surveillance cameras and a majority are equipped with newer digital systems.

"A lot of the newer cameras higher technology again improved over the years so we're getting clearer pictures lighter balance on the lighting, you're going to get a better shot at somebody," said Yoshida.

But that's not always the case. Poor surveillance images are often attributed to outdated equipment, failure of employees to activate cameras and in some cases, bad camera placement.

"The placement of the camera is very important you're not going to put a camera that you want to capture somebody's face right above their head, you're going to want something that's going to get a shot of their face," said Yoshida.

It's one reason why security companies work closely with clients.

"Okay where do you want to film, where is this camera going to go what do you need to capture," she said. "So we have businesses that want like their time clocks, their cash registers."

And in a bank's case, individual tellers. As you can see the images can be very clear.

"The newer digital quality of the picture is going to be a lot clearer a lot more precise," said Yoshida.

While cameras may not reduce robberies, surveillance images are valuable in identifying suspects and can aid in prosecution. HPD officials would not address the issue of image quality. They acknowledged high quality cameras can be expensive but encourage businesses, including banks, to make the best investment that best suits their needs to protect property, employees and customers.

You never what's going to happen and never know when it's going to happen," said Yoshida.

And if budget is a concern, most security companies offer camera rental plans.

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