Law enforcement agencies are using doorbell cameras to provide evidence for neighborhood home invasions, burglaries, assaults, and car thefts.
Are Doorbell Cameras Promoting Safety?
Over the past few years, doorbell cameras have become a popular, affordable way to increase home and neighborhood security. Many law enforcement agencies now promote them as a viable surveillance system that offers video evidence of a crime. Video evidence allows police to share visual images and information with law enforcement in other neighboring community and county areas to apprehend suspects faster.
Minnesota law enforcement is teaming up with smart home surveillance companies like Ring and Nest. Ring has partnered with 15 Minnesota agencies to help deter crimes. When a crime occurs within a partnered jurisdiction, Ring contacts nearby customers to request permission to share their video with law enforcement. In partnered jurisdictions, police are also permitted to join Ring’s Neighbors app to review posted videos of suspicious activity. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, police departments routinely rely on doorbell camera footage to investigate crimes and apprehend offenders in neighborhood crimes.
In Coon Rapids, a Minneapolis suburb, a doorbell camera captured a thief stealing a 7-foot, 150-pound bald eagle carving from a resident’s yard. The video provided police with a key piece of evidence – a clear image of the suspect staring directly into the homeowner’s doorbell camera. Police officers posted the video on social media, and within several hours the thief returned the carving to the homeowner’s yard.
Although doorbell cameras provide valuable evidence in solving crimes, police urge homeowners to call the police first if a crime occurs, before posting videos on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Posting a video before notifying police may alert a perpetrator and interfere with an investigation.
Law enforcement warns that videos may portray inaccurate information that leads to the arrest of an innocent person and creates unnecessary fears about crime within a community. In some cases, a person may be falsely accused of a crime when he/she has a legitimate reason to be in the area. Minnesota criminal defense attorneys see many cases where an alleged suspect who is falsely accused and arrested is not the actual perpetrator of the crime.
When used correctly and shared with police, doorbell camera videos can help to solve crimes by identifying suspects, vehicles, license plates, and criminal behavior within Minnesota communities. Videos provide valuable evidence in solving neighborhood crimes, especially when there are no witnesses.