Hello, Stranger: How Doorbell Cameras in North Texas Are Helping Police and Residents Catch Bad Guys

The first calls came into Frisco’s 911 dispatch center early one morning in late January. Residents were reporting a string of car burglaries, and they had video to prove it.Frisco police investigators quickly logged on to Neighbors, a social media platform from the doorbell camera manufacturer Ring, and were able to see videos residents had posted from their home security systems.The videos clearly showed multiple people breaking into some cars and attempting to open others. The footage even showed one person hopping a fence and damaging it, an additional criminal charge.Later that day, Frisco police caught and arrested the suspects.Officer Radd Rotello, a Frisco police spokesman who has championed the department’s use of the Ring platform to help communicate with residents and investigate crime, credited the quick arrests in large part to the posted video footage.“It helps tremendously,” Rotello said. “It seems like a great way to prevent some crime.”New standard for evidenceInternet-based "smart" alarms can sync home security with thermostats, entertainment systems and more. Now, you can tell Alexa to lock the front door, or check your phone to see if someone is standing on your porch.As consumer-grade security cameras have become cheaper to buy and easier to install, doorbell cameras have become a ubiquitous part of suburban life.Often used to spot “porch pirate” package thieves, doorbell cameras are p[has become a more important part of investigations into all kinds of crimes.Many of the videos posted to social media show successful car burglaries as well as failed attempts -- strangers testing doors of cars in driveways. Others show wild critters like coyotes or bobcats and are posted with warnings to keep pets inside.Prosecutors in a recent capital murder case in McKinney used doorbell camera footage to show the suspect entering the victim’s home at the time of the crime. Authorities investigating the death of Botham Jean in Dallas have tried using doorbell camera footage to help determine what happened the night he was killed by former Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger.  Continue reading...

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