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We consider surveillance applications through wireless sensor networks (WSNs) with fully accessible areas to be monitored. In this context, the WSN topology can be planned a priori to maximize application efficiency. We propose an optimization framework for selecting the positions of wireless sensors to detect mobile targets traversing a given area. By leveraging the concept of exposure as a measure of coverage quality, we propose two problem versions: the minimization of the sensors installation cost while guaranteeing a minimum exposure, and the maximization of the exposure of the least exposed path subject to a budget on the sensors installation cost. We present compact mixed integer-linear programming formulations for these problems that can be solved to optimality for reasonable-sized network instances. Moreover, we develop a heuristic that is able to provide near-optimal solutions of the same instances in short computing time and also to tackle large size instances.