by Sue Ann Rybak
Thanks to video surveillance obtained through SafeCam, a new online initiative that allows residents and business owners to register their security cameras with the Philadelphia Police Department, police were able to arrest Germantown resident Antuane Brown in connection with the sexual assault of four girls aged 12-17 years old in Germantown.
Brown, 22, of the 1100 block of East Price St., was charged with four counts of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, kidnapping, simple assault, violation of the uniform firearms act, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, possessing instruments of crime, recklessly endangering another person and unlawful contact with a minor.
According to police records, on March 19, a 15-year-old girl was walking near the 6000 block of Wister Street around 10:45 a.m. when an African American male wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt rode past her on a mountain bike. The man got off his bike, pointed a handgun at her, forced her into an alley and sexually assaulted her.
Police later obtained video surveillance through the SafeCam program that showed the suspect on the bike, forcing the girl into the alley and later fleeing on his bike after the assault.
For the past six months, SafeCam has helped the police department solve 85 crimes and has resulted in 37 arrests.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has asked residents and merchants to lend their lenses to the Philadelphia Police Department’s SafeCam program – a crime-prevention and crime-solving arsenal.
Officer Jillian Russell, a spokeswoman for the department, said registration is simple and takes only about 10 minutes to complete. She added that the program is free and completely confidential.
After providing police with the location of your camera and other basic information, an officer will contact you to verify your information and give you a SafeCam window decal to display in your home or business.
If there is a crime in the vicinity of your camera, police may request a copy of the video that was captured by your camera to aid in the investigation.
“SafeCam is an opportunity to become a part of your neighborhood’s crime prevention efforts,” Ramsey said. “Security cameras help to deter crime, and they can also assist in solving a crime after it has happened. Private-public partnerships like SafeCam are critical to making our communities safer.”
To register your camera with SafeCam or for more information about the program go to safecam.phillypolice.com