From Cat Videos to… Home Invasion Footage
No one expected the popularity of cat videos, but it’s easy to understand why everyone loves watching cute creatures. Lately, another viral video craze has erupted on the internet, but it’s the opposite of cute: users are uploading footage of criminals caught on home security cameras. For the first time in home security history (and human history) we are able to gawk, react, and rate criminals online. One man in Seattle successfully scared would-be criminals away from his porch, and the news story has nearly 3 million hits on YouTube.
There is a useful element to this. Home security camera users are also finding that being able to widely share the footage of the criminal is helping achieve justice, if the intruder gets away without being caught or interrupted.
Doorbell Ditch, With a Twist
The popular kids’ game of running up to your neighbor’s home and ringing the bell is thrilling because you have to get out of sight before you get caught. The reward is watching the person answer the door from your hiding spot. Rarely do we return once the game has been played, because we don’t want to get reprimanded by the person living there.
When it’s a real home invasion, however, the game is played differently.
One popular doorbell security camera caught footage of a masked man visiting the front door of a Connecticut family’s home several nights in a row, running off before he broke in. Each time he returned to try again, the family grew more alarmed. The family was on vacation, but they circulated the video to police and local news stations. The wider community was made aware of the incident, and the criminal was caught in the act when he returned to the house another night.
Another incident where a circulated doorbell video helped achieve justice happened in San Diego, when a homeowner was able to converse with a friendly stranger on his porch via the doorbell cam. The stranger appeared to be confused about the address, but the homeowner felt something was fishy, and sent his footage to the police. It turned out the police had been searching for the man, who was wanted for 19 home burglaries in the area. The footage helped police track down the criminal and arrest him.
Beyond the Doorbell, Inside the Home, Around the World
Although many criminals attempt to enter via the front door, truly savvy criminals will try to outsmart these devices and enter through other weak points, with a burglary well-planned in advance. A family in Paekakariki, New Zealand never thought they were vulnerable. They lived in a rural area, and had invested in a serious, technologically advanced camera system in their home.
They had been questioning the need for it after a year of no incidents, but one day, that changed. The homeowner witnessed thieves in his home from his vehicle. When one of the thieves noticed the security camera, she jumped and fled.
The homeowner was able to call the police from his vehicle, and describe the criminals as he watched them. Police arrived on the scene 15 minutes later. They reported they felt confident the footage would provide them necessary information to find the burglars. The Paekakariki family felt the cameras had more than paid for themselves, in restored peace of mind.