• Trailing crime: New cameras keep eye on Orange County trails after dark

    By: Sarah Wilson , Lauren Seabrook

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - If you’re out walking along an Orange County trail after dark, a disembodied voice might stop you in your tracks, telling you to leave or else.

    It’s not a Halloween installation. It’s a new effort to thwart crime on the county’s busiest trails.

    The county is installing cameras along the trails that turn on after dark detecting motion nearby. When they sense someone in the area, officials said the cameras will snap a photo and play a recorded message.

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    "Orange County Parks and Recreation trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. This area is closed and your picture has been taken for possible prosecution. Please vacate the area now," one camera was programmed to say.

    The cameras cost about $7,000 each, but the department said they are cheap for the county to run since they run on solar power.

    Danny Banks, the deputy county administrator of public safety, said the county will move the cameras around depending on which spots seem to be hottest for crime and eventually plans to put cameras up in more locations.

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    He said in the past, Orange County trails have been the scene for disturbing and sometimes unsolved crimes.

    In 2008, someone dragged UCF student Nicole Ganguzza into the woods while she was out for an evening jog and killed her.

    In 2012, two Winter Park High School students were tied up, shot and burned to death on the Cady Way Trail.

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    And at the end of 2018, several high school students were robbed at gunpoint by a masked man on the West Orange Trail, and just a few days later, a badly burned body was found farther north on the same trail.

    "Unfortunately, some of those still aren't solved. And we wonder if measures like this, capturing who was coming and going at the time, might have been that one little piece of evidence that could solve that case," Banks said.

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