Everyone who investigates bank robberies knows that it's typical for a suspect to stash a stolen car nearby, leave the scene on foot, and drop their disguises as the run to the getaway vehicle.
Many homes are now adding video enhanced alarm systems as well. Find an abandoned stolen car, and canvass the nearby neighborhood. You might find the homeowner's system by the robber's escape route caught a wonderful portrait. In all cases such as bank robbery, we generally find that the suspect loses his or her costume somewhere nearby. In many cases the suspect can be identified by examination of video from locations a short distance away. While competence on the part of the alarm company is increasing, police officers need to be more interested and attuned to the solutions being deployed in the areas near a crime scene.
More than ever before
Take a survey in your beat. Find camera systems near your highest crime areas. Learn where camera systems are located. If incidents are occurring nearby, see if there is a camera that could have caught the action you are concerned with. Convenience stores are still installing cheap, tape based systems. Make sure they rotate tapes and suggest simple maintenance. Work with local businesses to arrange for camera(s) to be re-tasked to look at the area where crime is occurring. Ask to see the tape and verify that it is still in serviceable condition. I've seen some cases where the entire tape is nothing but clear acetate because if has been used continuously for years. We also discovered that the metal oxides that made up the medium for recording would make solid bricks inside the recording mechanism as it ground away on the video recording heads.
Cameras increasing, monitors aren't
The lesson in all of this is that the camera count is exploding, but the number of people watching, examining, and utilizing the video is not. Many cameras are powered but never monitored, and output is never examined and is ultimately overwritten. This is where cooperation between the police and private companies come into play.
At least every major crime investigation should involve a walking canvass of the neighborhood looking for the human witness. Now that same canvassing needs to include looking for the video witness. If you supervise a detective bureau, take a drive around town. Look up state and local government camera systems, such as those owned by a state department of transportation or transit authority. Check the surveillance systems of local retail malls. Learn who is in charge of the systems, and build a working relationship; you will solve more crime.
Good hunting, and good watching!