Hidden cameras used to stop dirty problem

The city is trying to catch people in the act of illegally dumping junk
November 12, 2013 3:39:30 PM PST
New surveillance cameras are helping stop illegal dumpers who've made a mess in neighborhoods for years.

Prosecutors won't tell us exactly where the illegal dumping cameras are placed, but I'm told they are catching people in chronic hot spots.

A group of contractors using a back road as an illegal dump site can be seen on camera.

Assistant District Attorney Roger Haseman said, "We're getting very good descriptions of the vehicle that's used."

On a different street, hidden cameras caught the driver of a red truck tossing his trash into a ditch.

"We're getting license plate numbers very clear and very visible," Haseman said.

Prosecutors showed us another hidden camera picking up a truck making several trips to illegally dump wood and other garbage in a corner lot.

"The cameras have allowed us to develop a suspect and with additional evidence we can generally file criminal charges," Haseman explained.

Haseman is chief of the Harris County DA's Office environmental crimes division. His team's been using video from cameras hidden in hot spots for illegal dumping as evidence in the courtroom.

"So far this year, just with the cameras cases -- this isn't all of illegal dumping -- we've filed about 80 cases so far," Haseman said. "So we're on pace for about 100 cases this year."

Back in September the city of Houston launched a pilot program, announcing several illegal dumping cameras would be placed in undisclosed spots across the city.

Stephanie May runs a business near chronic illegal dumping sites north of downtown.

She said, "It would be awesome if they could do it over here, because they could get someone every day."

Prosecutors say officers monitoring the cameras are catching people dumping bags of trash, tires, construction and demolition debris from job sites -- and the list goes on. Prosecutors say many of those people caught illegally dumping faced stiff fines, probation and jail time.

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