As soon as the Boston Marathon bombings happened, I thought the usual stuff about how could this happen, how can humans do this to each other, etc. etc. But I also thought, How did someone think they'd get away with this? Two bombs. In the middle of the day. In downtown Boston. At one of the country's most-watched events. You're gonna get videotaped, buddy. And it looks like that may be what happened. Police say they are closing in on a suspect -- thanks to surveillance camera footage.
CNN reported that a source says that an arrest in the bombings might be imminent thanks to an identification made through surveillance video of the site of the second explosion. (Earlier reports had said a suspect was arrested, but that appears to be erroneous.) Video of the man came from various sources including a Boston television station and a Lord & Taylor surveillance camera. Reportedly, police were able to get a clear view of the face of whoever left the bomb that went off near the store. (But those reports, like the arrest, could end up being rescinded too.)
The authorities have been asking people to submit camera footage since the attack and have been sifting through thousands of digital images taken that day. Pictures of what looks like a shopping bag placed on the ground moments before one explosion were taken by a spectator, given to the media, and looked at by the FBI.
It would be a bizarre happenstance indeed if this person or persons were not caught on camera.
We are all being watched. All of the time. After September 11, many cities drastically increased their surveillance cameras. You can find thousands of images of various crimes in progress on YouTube -- and not just from the dopes that upload their crimes themselves.
The killer of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky was swiftly apprehended in Brooklyn two years ago thanks to a civilian sleuth who rounded up all of the surveillance footage at all of the stores along Leiby's walking route. Compare that to Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979, long before surveillance footage was a staple of modern life. Etan's case remained unsolved until recently, and there are still questions surrounding it.
Think of September 11, and those haunting images of the terrorists going though security at Dulles Airport. Think of the 2005 London subway bombings. Police were able to piece together every move the terrorists made that day thanks to London's network of surveillance cameras, covering virtually every inch of the city.
You don't have much privacy these days, that's true. But neither do criminals. And if you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't mind it much. I figure I must get recorded a bazillion times a day walking through the streets of New York.
So if these terrorists are caught -- and it seems very likely they will -- then it will be due in no small part to technology.
Do you think cameras are necessary or an infringement on privacy?
Image via hahaTango/Flickr