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On Lyndale Avenue, Jim Fiala's 16 cameras are always watching [VIDEO]

Jim Fiala received an award from Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan last fall
Jim Fiala received an award from Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan last fall

On Lyndale Avenue South, just across from the Loon grocery store, Jim Fiala's cameras are always watching.

About 15 years ago, Fiala's car was stolen out of his driveway, so he set up a camera in front of the house, a simple task for the retired electrical engineer. Over time, Fiala began adding more cameras. Today he has 16, eight in the front and eight out back.

They're on 24 hours a day.

"I never know when something's going to happen," Fiala says. "I'm not looking for something but I know that sometime, somewhere, in a day, a week, a month, something's going to happen."

Fiala's cameras have been helpful to the Minneapolis Police Department in numerous investigations and arrests. Records obtained by City Pages show that Fiala's videos have been used in cases ranging from graffiti to burglaries.

Fiala's cameras caught this "crook" breaking into a neighbor's car
Fiala's cameras caught this "crook" breaking into a neighbor's car

As far as police know, Fiala is a unique individual around town.

"Mr. Fiala has taken a very proactive role in providing video to us," says Minneapolis Police Sgt. William Palmer. "I'm not aware of anybody else that does it the way he does, at least as an individual. There may be some corporate entities that do but I'm not aware of a citizen who does it like that."

Fiala says he would "hate to think" about how many 911 calls he's made over the years.

"Between my cellphone and the regular phone there's probably over 100 911 calls," Fiala says. He has a "whole box full" of "probably 150 cases" and related DVDs.

His surveillance tapes have taught him how to recognize when a crime is going to be committed.

"After you've seen all of the stuff I've seen you get to really know when somebody's up to no good," Fiala says. "It's a dead giveaway."

Of course, Fiala's cameras don't simply capture crimes in progress. With the CC Club, Leaning Tower of Pizza, and Mortimer's in the neighborhood, Fiala's seen his share of drunken shenanigans. And so have thousands of people he's shared the videos with on YouTube.

We've set up a microsite for anyone interested in seeing the world through Jim Fiala's cameras. Click here to see the Lyndale spy footage.

 

A few years ago, Fiala set up a YouTube channel, jimmyshouse1, where he uploaded videos of different crimes and car accidents.

He also shared video of "women tree pissers" who urinated on the tree in front of his boulevard, "garbage diggers" who defacated in his alley, and a woman spanking herself with a Bible, a video he still finds hilarious.

"I have never had anything like that happen in front, and how she did that right in front of the camera," Fiala says. "She didn't know the camera was out there and how that happened was just crazy."

A young woman with no idea she's being recorded
A young woman with no idea she's being recorded

Fiala says he hasn't seen the lady since but he's sure he knows what her reaction would be if she saw the recording.

"She'd probably be red or embarrassed or something like that," Fiala says. "But I mean, she was slapping herself with a Bible."

His cameras are specifically set up to capture small details like license plate numbers and human faces, Fiala says, so he can avoid useless wide angle shots like those you see on bank cameras.

She's reacting to a car accident
She's reacting to a car accident

"I'm sure you've seen this in the banks, where they have wide angle stuff going on. You can't identify the people," Fiala says. "I have the wide angle but then I've set up specific, much sharper cameras."

That much is obvious if you watch Fiala's videos on YouTube.

In one, a young woman urinating on the tree in his front lawn is shown from a distance, and then he zooms in on the footage. Underneath the upload, Fiala asks: "Why do women like pissing on my boulevard tree?"

We've set up a microsite for anyone interested in seeing the world through Jim Fiala's cameras. Click here to see the Lyndale spy footage.  

One video caught the moment when a car hit a pedestrian at 40 MPH
One video caught the moment when a car hit a pedestrian at 40 MPH

Another video shows a car accident from numerous angles and zoom percentages. You can watch a woman waiting at the bus stop react to the two cars' collision.

The most shocking video

"Lazy tree pisser" with "two inches," according to Fiala
"Lazy tree pisser" with "two inches," according to Fiala

"That just happened to be a cycle at the time where I started getting all this stuff going on then I put it on YouTube," Fiala explains.

Fiala's big advantage, he says, is that people don't know he's recording them, so they're unaware that the police have photos of them. He says he turns over tapes to the police, who use them for visuals on patrol.

"When they have their meetings before they go out on patrol or whatever, they would distribute the picture and everyone in the Fifth Precinct would be looking for this particular person," Fiala says.


The lesson to be learned from Fiala's cameras, of course, is that there is no privacy in public spaces. So don't commit any crimes in Jim Fiala's neighborhood. Or piss on anyone's tree.

We've set up a microsite for anyone interested in seeing the world through Jim Fiala's cameras. Click here to see the Lyndale spy footage.



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