Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 'poop snooper': Angry father-of-two sets up secret cameras to catch dog owners who don't clean up their mess


A private detective sets up a larger woodland camera on a route regularly used by dog walkers

A team of private detectives is working with a city council to catch dog walkers who let their pets foul the pavements.

The pooper snoopers are using high tech surveillance tactics to capture culprits who fail to bin their pets' mess.

They have hidden tiny video cameras the size of thumbnails in trees and drink cans at popular dog-walking sites across Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, in a bid to catch the offenders.

The new Community Dog Fouling Initiative has been set up by father-of-two Mark Halstead, 35, who runs Black Cat Investigations.

He plans to present any damning evidence gathered by his team to the council's environmental health department and offenders could be fined up to £1,000.

'I have two young children and I'm fed up with taking them to the local park and telling them to keep off the grass in case they step in dog mess,' he said.

'We love going to the park to feed the ducks or for walks in the wood but the children have to constantly watch where they are walking and I'm always having to clean poo off their shoes or the pushchair.

'I care about the children in our community and I decided something needed to be done. It's not only foul but it's a health hazard too.'

Investigators armed with cameras target dog walkers who previously have been caught on the hidden devices allowing their dogs to foul paths

Mr Halstead started Black Cat seven years ago to investigate matrimonial matters and he has a team of 12 investigators.

But he realised the technology they use to catch cheating partners could prove effective in clamping down on irresponsible dog walkers.

'I came up with the idea after seeing a neighbour leaving bags of poo in the gutter just a few metres away from a bin,' he said.

'She has two dogs and she was walking them three times a day so she was leaving up to six bags a day on the street.

One of the tiny camera devices that are hidden inside trees and drink cans to spy on dog walkers and their pets

'Children walk along that street to school and they were opening the bags to see what was inside. It was horrible.

'I learned the times she was taking the dogs for a walk and set up an operation with two local agents. Within hours they had captured her on film and we can now present this as court evidence to Milton Keynes Council.'

Mr Halstead and his team have already placed 15 high resolution video cameras, each costing £200, at problem dog fouling areas in Milton Keynes.

Footage from the mini cameras is streamed onto a server on the internet which the detectives can then access remotely.

'We can sit in our office and log on to the camera and download the footage to see what is happening,' he said. 'If we see someone who is blatantly letting their dog foul on a pavement we will then need to identify the person and link them to a property.

'Dog walkers tend to be habitual in the routes they take so we would get an agent to follow them home, then give the footage to the council and encourage them to prosecute.'

Mr Halstead, who lives near the centre of Milton Keynes, also wants members of the public to become volunteer investigators and help with the work.

'People can snap a photo of someone they see letting their dog poo on the pavement then send it to us, or they can assist with our surveillance,' he said.

'If anyone knows of a persistent offender they can supply us with details.
'We also hope local companies will sponsor the equipment so we can install more cameras.'

The council is authorised by the Government to gather evidence of dog-fouling under the Dog Act legislation. In the past three years it has taken action against 13 people.

'We have already had a lot of support from people, including many dog walkers who are fed up with their dogs running through dog poo,' Mr Halstead added.

source :dailymail

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