San Jose businesses to get free surveillance cameras to combat crime

San Jose’s mayor and a police captain on Wednesday carried new equipment into an Edenvale neighborhood restaurant. Its owner, Licha Montez, says her family has owned Tine’s Cafe in various locations dating back to 1969. Now, crime is impacting her operations.

"We’ve seen quite a few things. There was a young man killed here in the shopping center. Somebody came in once with a knife," said Montez.

To crack down on crime in high-crime areas, Mayor Matt Mahan, D-San Jose, launched a new program called the "Capture Crime" pilot program.

"We need to leverage technology to fill the gaps," he said. "Studies have shown that surveillance cameras can reduce the overall crime rate by 25%."

Under the $75,000, two-year program, 50 small businesses across the city can receive surveillance cameras, monitors, and an external hard drive, all free of charge. The cameras must be registered with the San Jose Police Department, and officials said images could be stored for up to 30 days.

"When we have digital evidence, images of the crimes per se, those are prioritized within the investigation. When we have little or nothing to go on, those are more troublesome," said Capt. Brian Spears.

This pilot program was first proposed during Sam Liccardo’s mayoral term in 2022.

Mahan is now carrying that torch for the next two years.

Some experts say lowering crime will lessen the economic burden shouldered by many small businesses.

"This is a terrific program. It’s a step in the right direction. With the hope that it helps us maintain a thriving business community within the city of San Jose," said Greg Woods, a professor at the San Jose State University Department of Justice Studies.

Montez hopes the new hardware will lower the chance of another close call inside her family’s restaurant.

"We would have the videos and that would help if somebody comes and commits a crime," she said.  "And police would have access to those videos, and they could go find the person responsible."

So far, Montez is the only business owner to sign up for the program. City and police officials want others to come on board, by reaching out to the San Jose police crime prevention unit.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv