CRIME

Security cameras to be installed in off-campus neighborhoods before fall semester

Will Carrara | Contributing Photographer

Donors supporting the camera project include landlords, realtors, SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University's Student Association.

The Syracuse University off-campus residential area will have new security cameras to prevent crimes committed against students who live in the surrounding community.

Eight cameras will be installed by the fall semester, said Alexander Lynch, a community and security analyst for the Department of Public Safety.

The cameras will span from Westcott Street to Comstock Avenue on Euclid Avenue and from Lancaster Avenue to Comstock Avenue on Stratford Street, he said. The cameras will also cover three blocks of Lancaster, Ackerman and Ostrom avenues, as well as two blocks of Sumner Avenue.

Ben Tupper, a landlord who owns about 70 residences in the off-campus community, said each security camera costs about $13,000 and includes a wireless operating system with 360-degree sight and recording ability. All footage is kept for 14 days and the Syracuse Police Department maintains and operates the cameras at all times, he added.

Lynch, a Class of 2016 alumnus of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, raised more than $90,000 to fund the first phase of the camera project.

He said he first thought of installing security cameras during his senior year capstone project. He researched ways of reducing crime, and the cameras were the most effective option, in some areas cutting down on crime by up to 70 percent, Lynch added.

“I was tired of people getting robbed, my friends’ houses … getting broken into, cars getting stolen,” Lynch said.

Tupper was the first landlord Lynch approached.

Tupper said he was unaware of the scope of crime that affects the area where his tenants live. Syracuse had the 10th highest rate of robberies per 1,000 residents in New York state, according to an analysis of crimes by Syracuse.com.

The landlord’s personal experience with crime has not followed the typical trend of Syracuse. Tupper said in the last 20 years, he has experienced about 10 break-ins.

“When Alex came and talked to me, I stepped out of my skin and thought, ‘What can I do so that everyone gets the warm fuzzies here and feels safer in the neighborhood?’ like I’ve always felt,” Tupper said.

Tupper said he was immediately supportive of Lynch’s idea to install cameras. He donated $30,000 to the project and reached out to about 90 other realtors and landlords in the area. Five of them pledged monetary support, he said.

Landlords and realtors in the community donated $40,000 to the project, $3,000 came from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the remaining funds came from SU’s Student Association and other related organizations, Lynch said.

“Increasing the safety and security of the neighborhood increases the value of the property, it increases the desirability of wanting to live in the property, it increases the safety of tenants,” Tupper said.

Along with this security camera initiative, Tupper takes his own precautions in monitoring his properties and tenants as well.

This includes adding extra LED lights on all of his homes, a recent operation that is still in the works. In Tupper’s former job as a probation officer, he said he found most of the criminals he worked with would “do their dirt in the dark.” He began adding lights to the backyards and front yards of his properties.

“I bomb my tenants’ emails with reminders. ‘Don’t do this or that. If you’re going out to parties until 3 a.m., leave the light on. Make it look like someone is home,’” he said.

From January 2013 to December 2015, there were 2,556 crimes reported in the Hill area, which is defined as Marshall Street to East Genesee Street and Comstock Avenue to Westcott Street, according to the Onondaga Crime Analysis Center.

Lynch said he will continue to monitor the progress of the security cameras using data from SPD and OCAC.

Lynch said he has already begun fundraising for a second phase of the project to provide more cameras around the community. He added that he has remained in Syracuse for the purpose of seeing his project come to close.

“Keep growing and keep adding cameras,” Lynch said.

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