Rise of home video surveillance systems provides useful information to police, residents

Rise of home video surveillance systems provides useful information to police, residents

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When a woman was reported missing in Wallingford over the summer, police canvassed the area looking for leads. Officers found a nearby resident who had an outdoor video system. Footage showed the woman had been in the area.

The video helped police track the woman, who was later found safe, Lt. Cheryl Bradley said. This was just one recent instance of residential video systems being used to help police in their everyday work. 

“It’s invaluable,” Bradley said of the video systems, such as the self-install doorbell camera Ring. “The quality of the newer systems are great. You can get a crystal clear picture, even at night.”

Police often use residential cameras to investigate crimes like car break-ins. Even if they can’t immediately identify the suspect, Bradley said, the video allows police to get a physical description and images that can be used to help investigations.

Bradley said residents are glad to share the videos from their systems with officers, and oftentimes, if they hear of an incident in their area they will call the department to offer their video. 

Wallingford resident Dawn Thomas, who lives on North Whittlesey Avenue, got the Ring doorbell camera because of all the car break-ins on her street.

“So many neighbors have it and we share information,” Thomas said. “...I would absolutely share (the video) with the police department.”

Southington Lt. Stephen Elliott said he’s noticed an increase in video surveillance in recent years. In the past, some businesses had video systems, but now almost every business does and many more homes are installing them, Elliott said.

Officers canvass areas after a crime is reported and one of the things they come across now are residents with video systems.

Elliott said officers will give residents advice if they ask for ways to keep their homes safe, such as keeping shrubs trimmed from windows, keeping a light on, and, if it is financially feasible and they are comfortable with it, getting a video system. 

Meriden police recently posted a request on social media for home security footage of several streets related to a homicide investigation.

Police posted a list of streets and said they were looking for video recordings from a specific date and time surrounding the incident on Sunday, Aug. 11.

Last month, officers obtained video from a neighbor after a tractor-trailer struck the house next door at 484 Preston Ave. Video showed the tractor trailer passing the neighbor’s home in the moments before the crash. 

John Yuza, Jr., president of Monitor Controls in Wallingford, said every person has a different reason for using the equipment, even interior cameras. 

“There are a number of people who have caretakers,” Yuza said of elderly family members or children being cared for inside the home by outside help.

Dawn Thomas sits on the front porch of her residence in Wallingford, Thurs., Aug. 15, 2019. Thomas has installed a doorbell surveillance camera to monitor activity in front of her residence. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Yuza said the pricing has become more attractive for many people, and some of the systems they offer can record for up to a month at a time. Residents are able to give the video straight from their system to police, but Yuza said the company is also able to help if the resident has any problems getting the recordings. 

Police database

In Berlin, the police department keeps a database of residential cameras called Community Assistance in Response to Stolen cars/property or CARS, which was launched in 2017 following a rash of car break-ins.

Residents can voluntarily provide the location of a camera and a contact person who can access the video. No information is shared outside of the department.

Dawn Thomas is seen on the doorbell surveillance camera installed next to the front door of her residence in Wallingford, Thurs., Aug. 15, 2019. Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

Police Chief John Klett said the department is still using the database, but he was unsure of the participation level. The sergeant in charge of the program was not available for comment.

Residents often post their footage to social media after an incident is captured in the hopes of community members identifying the culprit. Bradley said police can review footage from social media, but they prefer to get it from the resident, noting that in some cases the video can provide the only lead in a case. 

Wallingford resident Rob Sprafke said he purchased a home video system on sale last year and has been happy with it since. 

“It’s just another thing you don’t have to be worried about,” Sprafke said, “especially with the rash of break-ins we had this spring.”



Twitter: @LaurenSellewRJ

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