FREMONT -- Investigators increasingly have relied on residents' private security cameras to find and arrest burglars, lowering the city's burglary rate last year by nearly 30 percent.

Fremont police now want to install their own surveillance camera systems, including license plate readers, in about a dozen intersections.

The cameras would be placed near city borderlines because most of Fremont's burglaries are done by out-of-towners, and ¿police want to catch criminals as they drive near the freeway, police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said.

"Having cameras and license plate readers at city exit points gives us the ability to track vehicles used to transport suspects in and out of the city," she said.

The City Council on June 17 will consider police's request to spend $300,000 on the video surveillance systems. If council members approve them, the city then would put the job up for bid, Fremont police Chief Richard Lucero said.

It's the second time in seven months that police have asked for city funds for surveillance cameras. Last October, council members balked at spending $161,375 in Community Development Block Grant funds because they deemed it inappropriate to spend money intended for low-income housing on surveillance cameras.

In recent years, police have encouraged Fremont homeowners to share private security video with investigators, and that growing informal partnership has helped catch criminals and lower crime, police said.


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In 2013, the city's rate for home and commercial burglaries decreased by 27 percent from the previous year, authorities said.

In a six-month period from late 2012 to early 2013, just seven of 46 people convicted of committing burglaries in Fremont lived in the city, police said.

Video recordings will be stored for about a month on a secure server at the Fremont Police Department then purged after 30 days, unless they are used as evidence in a crime, police said.

License plate data will be stored for a year, then thrown away, unless it's being used in a specific criminal investigation.

However, a Fremont resident has concerns that the camera systems reflect a creeping invasion of privacy and might open the door to abuses of power. "You can find out a lot about someone just by checking their license plate records," said Eric Tsai. "It seems like it's ripe for abuse."

Meantime, police leaders say they would make it a priority to address privacy concerns. "It's a minimal intrusion on privacy, but it offers a significant public safety gain," Lucero said. "I think that's an appropriate balance. Anytime we can prevent additional crimes, then it's a good step for us to initiate."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.

Surveillance camera program's Proposed intersections
1. Westbound Thornton Avenue onto northbound I-880
2. Northbound/southbound Fremont Boulevard onto northbound I-880
3. Southbound Fremont Boulevard onto southbound I-880
4. Westbound Mowry Avenue onto northbound I-880
5. Westbound Decoto Road onto northbound I-880
6. Southbound Ardenwood Boulevard onto westbound Highway 84
7. Westbound Stevenson Boulevard onto northbound I-880
8. Northbound Alvarado Boulevard at Union City border
9. Southbound Mission Boulevard onto northbound I-880
10. Northbound Mission Boulevard onto northbound I-680
11. Eastbound Auto Mall Parkway on northbound/southbound I-880
12. Northbound Mission Boulevard at Mowry Avenue

City leaders are asking the public to give feedback about surveillance cameras and license plate readers at www.fremont.gov/opencityhallcameras.