'Dummy' cameras a possibility in Harlingen to curb illegal dumping

Residents at Lazy Palms Subdivision off Mangrove Palm and Roosevelt Road in Harlingen continue to deal with the problem of illegal dumping.

"I wish they could have respect for the people who live here," Hector Rodriguez said.

Along a drainage canal at the subdivision sat discarded furniture, electronics, boxes, tires, water jugs and trash.

Rodriguez said he drives by the makeshift dump on the way to his home.

"It makes the whole neighborhood look sloppy," he said.

City cameras have been installed to curb the problem.

They work by catching criminals in the act.

There was one installed at Lazy Palms, but the camera which sounds a warning message and snaps a photo of violators, was taken down because it's broken, according to City Sanitation Supervisor Rene De La Garza.

"I know that there's a lot of residents that don't like having that mess out there... But we're trying to do the best we can to catch these people in the act," De La Garza said.

Before the camera was removed, the illegal dumping had stopped, Rodriguez said.

In the two weeks since, the dumping is at its worst, according to Rodriguez.

8 cameras rotate across the city.

Photos are used for evidence against a suspected illegal dumper, according to De La Garza.

The public works employee said the city is now looking to purchase dummy cameras to place into the rotation.

De La Garza said they would look like the real thing but wouldn't actually function as a camera.

Using them would enable the city to cover more ground and replace real cameras out of service.

"It's just a cat and mouse game and we're hoping to catch them in the act," De La Garza said.

Hector said the dummy cameras were worth a shot.

"They [criminals] can look up there and they see them... I think it could work."

It's unclear when the city will purchase the dummy equipment.

A person who is caught illegally dumping faces a fine.