Proposal would use motion-sensor cameras to curb South Seattle crime

SEATTLE -- It's a day any mother would want to show off to her son.

When Alexis Gallegos talks about her wedding day, however, she knows something wasn't quite right.

"We had our house broken into. My husband's wedding ring was stolen two months before we were married," Gallegos said.

The Beacon Hill resident had the ring replaced, but since the big day has seen a noticeable spike in crime in her South Seattle neighborhood -- especially in the past six months.

"It just started escalating," she says. "Now it's to the point where you can't go to a (neighbor's house) without having somebody that's had their door kicked in. It's been very frustrating because it's in broad daylight. It's anytime during the day or night and it's very frightening."

In November, popular hair stylist Danny Vega died after being attacked by three robbers. His murder remains unsolved.

The following month, the Seattle Police Sexual Assault Unit was searching for a possible serial attacker after two women were assaulted in one week, just blocks away from one another.

Gallegos -- who is in charge of the block watch in the Lockmore section of Beacon Hill -- started talking to other neighborhood leaders about the issue. Among the victims who came forward with a solution was Glenn Tamura.

"I got broken into about a year and a half ago and then again about a year ago," Tamura said. "We just started talking about cameras and one thing led to another."

Tamura, who is a camera and security expert, helped draft a proposal to put motion-sensor cameras along a perimeter in one of the hardest hit areas. The cameras would capture every car and each pedestrian along Martin Luther King, Jr., Way to the east and Beacon Ave. to the West, and from Columbia Way to the north and S. Orcas St. to the south.

The cameras would be mounted in public places, connect wirelessly to a remote server, and can capture license plate information.

"There are so many neighborhoods without cameras and so many houses without cameras," Tamura said. "The minute (criminals) see they're being monitored, then they'll just not going into that neighborhood."

Tamura will present his proposal at a neighborhood meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club. Tamura adds that he doesn't believe privacy advocates will have much of a case, with the cameras mounted in public places.

"I'm not sure it would be very much of a privacy issue because we're not focusing on people, we're focusing on cars," he added.

Both Tamura and Gallegos hope residents will be on board with being on camera.

"When people come into our neighborhood we're not blind to them anymore," Gallegos added, "which I think was a big part of the problem."

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