Lawrence attorney Mike Riling has seen it all.
“It’s amazing how many people go to the bathroom right there with the cameras rolling,” he said. “We see all kinds of things.”
Riling can keep an eye on what’s going on in the alley behind his business in the 800 block of Massachusetts 24 hours a day. He can even monitor his property from home.
“My kids laughed at me for weeks because I would turn on the computer, and I could see the alley from my house five miles away,” Riling said.
Riling was forced to install the high tech security system this spring, after repeated acts of vandalism in the alley. The four rooftop cameras are visible and there are signs posted that activities in the alley are being recorded, but the vandalism has continued.
On Tuesday night, cameras were rolling as a young man and woman spray painted graffiti on the back door of Riling’s law offices. The crime took place in daylight, with the damage happening in a matter of seconds. On video, the man can be seen using the spray paint, while the woman he was with acted as a lookout.
The incident was similar to another round of graffiti that happened last April. Cameras were also rolling then when a group of people spray painted up and down the entire alleyway.
“You just wish they would think a little bit about the destruction they are causing and maybe the inconvenience,” Riling said. “You know it’s going to happen, but hopefully this will slow it down, a little bit anyway.”
Riling turned his video over to police in both graffiti incidents, but despite the good quality of the footage, police have yet to catch the suspects.
His cameras have helped solve crimes at nearby businesses, including a burglary and theft at Cielito Lindo, 815 N.H., on April 29, and helped lead authorities to a man who was setting trash cans in the alley on fire.
Riling hopes the cameras will deter more incidents from happening. His message to those walking in the east alley in the 800 block of Massachusetts: Someone is watching your every move.
“The main thing is we would just like people to leave everything alone if they would,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll reach a point where it won’t happen, and we won’t know what to do with the video cameras anymore.”