It’s an unfortunate state of affairs when you can’t walk down the street and have a conversation on your cell phone without someone coming along and wrenching it out of your hand. But that’s exactly what happened to a local woman in the Russian Hills neighborhood of San Francisco the other evening.
No doubt feeling rather shaken following her ordeal, she must have thought that was the end of it. And the assailant most probably believed he’d got away scot-free. But, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, as the perpetrator hightailed it away from the scene, from along the street came a taxicab – one that had just happened to catch the whole incident on a security video camera mounted on its dashboard.
The SFC reports that many cab companies in the city have been equipping their cabs with so-called “dash cameras” – ones that record, non-stop, everything that’s happening up ahead. Around 700 of the city’s 1,500 cabs are now thought to have a dash camera.
The quick-thinking driver told the woman to jump in and together they tracked the assailant. Using the cab driver’s phone, the woman called the police. The driver, meanwhile, followed the man, who was probably moving along at a more leisurely pace by now.
The police followed the woman’s directions and were able to arrest the man, a local resident by the name of Brandon C. West, in connection with the alleged robbery.
Though the installation of the cameras is the subject of some controversy, with civil liberty groups for one opposed to them, the cab driver who assisted the woman thinks they’re a good idea.
He told the SFC: “It makes me feel much safer. And when the police check the chips, they can see what is going on. It’s going to be very healthy.”
San Francisco police officer Albie Esparza agreed: “The video shows the crime happening in progress and we get a positive ID. It’s beneficial to everyone.”
However you feel about the use of such technology, the victim of this particular incident will certainly have been grateful that a camera-equipped cab was in the vicinity when the assailant struck. Of course, even without the camera, they might still have been able to nab the alleged criminal, but footage from such a camera will, as Officer Esparza said, help to confirm the ID of an attacker.