Ken Ward's ute was stolen while it was parked beneath this CCTV camera in Murwillumbah.
Ken Ward's ute was stolen while it was parked beneath this CCTV camera in Murwillumbah. Blainey Woodham

Car nabbed under CCTV

LONG-TIME Murwillumbah resident Ken Ward thought it would be safe to park his Landcruiser ute under the CCTV security cameras in central Murwillumbah.

Little did he know that a computer glitch, kept secret until now, means the camera system has a limited memory and the video footage may be lost after several days.

And bureaucratic red tape means not only the police, but Tweed Shire Council, which officially owns the cameras, must be notified to retrieve the video of any crime.

But the council is stressing it is not “a law-enforcement agency with staff monitoring the system 24/7.”

“I thought parking under surveillance cameras, you’d be pretty right,” Mr Ward said yesterday.

Instead, his white 1991 Toyota Landcruiser worth about $10,000 disappeared from “right under a security camera” off Proudfoots Lane behind the Australian Hotel.

The state-of-the-art $191,000 CCTV system with 29 cameras throughout the heart of the town and a hi-tech data retrieval ability was handed over to council last August after a prolonged battle by the Murwillumbah and District Business Chamber for Federal Government funding. A large monitoring screen was installed inside the Murwillumbah Police Station.

Mr Ward left his ute, which was not comprehensively insured and had the registration number 999 CRN, parked behind the pub when he suddenly had to go to Murwillumbah Hospital with kidney stones “too crook to go anywhere for two nights”.

He believes it disappeared on Tuesday night last week. He went to the police soon after he found it missing on the Thursday.

“I reported it under 48 hours – that’s less than the four days they told me it would last on the system,” Mr Ward said.

“The police reckon it (the CCTV system) just won’t work and they haven’t got the staff to sit there watching it.”

The council’s technology director Troy Green said the council was working to upgrade the system but insisted it “is working”.

“Since the system was handed over to council, it has been identified with police assistance that the storage needs to be increased so that footage is retained for longer on all cameras,” Mr Green said.

“Council and the (business) chamber became aware of this late December and immediately met with the police to put in place an action plan.”

Mr Green said the council was able to retrieve footage “but we need to be requested to do so”. He said Mr Ward had made that request to the council on Wednesday this week.

“The footage he is seeking covers a 36-hour period, as he is unable to narrow the time when the vehicle was stolen,” Mr Green said. “This takes some time to retrieve and then review. The retrieval is currently occurring.”

He said Mr Ward was also told “those particular cameras may not have the footage still retained because of the time lag when he notified council”.

He added: “A CCTV system should not be relied upon by anyone to negate their own personal responsibility to secure their property and have appropriate comprehensive insurance.”



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