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      Riverbanks Zoo now under camera surveillance

      Make sure to smile the next time you go to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden because you will likely make an appearance on camera.

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Security cameras are almost everywhere you look and their capturing what authorities don't see.

      Cameras are just like witnesses when we are investigating a crime, said Deputy Chief Ruben Santiago of Columbia Police Department

      Over the weekend, CPD received reports of three vehicle break-ins at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, according to Deputy Chief Santiago.

      Carey Shealy of Statewide Security Systems also got a call.

      We were informed about the problem in the zoo TMs parking lot, so we offered to come in and set up a system for them, Shealy says

      There was another car break-in on Monday. Shealy adds this time the suspect was caught on camera.

      Just like any other major attraction or theme park, we are not immune to break-ins and things like that, so we are fortunate enough where technology is available to us, said Riverbanks Zoo director Satch Krantz.

      Zoo officials hope the security cameras will curb the number of vehicle break-ins happening outside the entrance to the park. This year, a total of 28 reported incidents.

      Statistics show auto break-ins are seasonal crimes that most often occur in the summer. Police remind citizens the best way to protect yourself year-round is to not leave valuables in your car.

      Additional cameras are expected to be installed later this week at Riverbanks.

      What we are looking for obviously is something that is cost-effective, Krantz says.

      The zoo is the second entertainment area in Columbia to put up security cameras. The city plans to spend $100,000 to help merchants in Five points buy additional cameras

      The remaining funds will be divided among the Vista, Main Street and Harbison retail districts