By Todd Quinones
MANTUA Twp., N.J., (CBS) – A local police department is using thermal imaging technology to track down suspects in Gloucester County.
Crooks laying low in dark alleys, or the woods, have lost some hiding places.
That was the lesson Mantua Township Police say 18-year-old Dominique Reid learned the hard way.
He was spotted by the department’s new thermal imaging camera after police allege he helped beat up and rob a man outside of this Target parking lot in Sewell.
“If you’re hiding from us we will probably find you,” Mantua Township Police Lt. Jeff Ferry said.
Officer Krista Shields says she spotted Reid as she pulled up to the scene. He fled on foot and she chased him into a dark wooded area behind the store where she lost him.
“It’s dark, all you have is your flashlight so it is hard to find out where he is going,” she said.
That’s when patrolman Raymond Lawrence pulled up in a patrol car newly equipped two days ago with this nighttime thermal imaging camera.
“There’s just so much room for people to hide from the beam of a flashlight and the naked eye,” Lawrence said.
But the camera doesn’t need any light at all.
“It picks up the heat from vehicles or people or animals,” Lawrence said.
In the ever-evolving cat and mouse game between police and criminals, this technology gives police the upper hand. Before what they couldn’t see through the naked eye it revealed much sooner, giving officers the advantage.
Shields got into the car with Lawrence and the two drove around the area of Woodbury -Glassboro Road, when the officers say the camera picked up on Reid walking out of the woods just before 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
“He came out of the woods and he started walking down the street and he had no idea we were behind him,” Shields said.
Reid and another 18-year-old were arrested and now face charges in connection to the strong armed robbery, thanks in part to this technology.