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One-eyed traffic cops face vandalism, theft

Vandals target roadside traffic cameras several times a year. The theft of an entire traffic camera unit – including the post – can draw charges of aggravated property damage.

Nopeusvalvontakamera valvoo nyt myös punaisia päin ajavia autoilijoita. Nopeusvalvontakamera ottaa kuvan, kun tiehen asennetut sähkömagneettiset induktiosilmukat ovat mitanneet ylinopeuslukemat.
In one unusual case from 2009, vandals in Oulu had peppered a traffic camera with buckshot. Image: Yle

Vandals often attempt to deface traffic cameras by stoning them or even trying to topple them. Police say however, than in light of the number of one-eyed police officers deployed along the road network, such attempts are relatively rare.

Police Inspector Jussi Huhtela recalled one unusual case from 2009 in Oulu, where three roadside cameras had been peppered with buckshot.

“Someone had driven up alongside them and shot at the cameras with a firearm. We never caught the perpetrator,” he reminisced.

Camera theft a serious crime

Last week thieves in Heinävesi, southern Savo stole an entire traffic camera and its supporting pole, jointly valued at 50,000 euros. Police have so far been unable to track down the camera – and its new owners.

The case was not unprecedented, but according to Inspector Timo Ajaste, it is still rare.

“Stealing an entire traffic camera pole is a serious crime,” Ajaste said.

Perpetrators can face charges of aggravated theft or aggravated property damage; the latter carries a possible four-month prison sentence.

“Maybe someone is looking to earn stripes by saying that they have stolen a one-eyed policeman,” Huhtela speculated.

Huhtela conjectured that the theft of traffic cameras and other acts of vandalism are motivated by mischief and a desire to show off.

“It’s a kind of immature activity,” he concluded.

There are some 850 traffic cameras deployed alongside Finland’s highways.

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