Sunday, August 14, 2022

Doorbell cameras & crime: Here’s why you might want to consider sending footage to area law enforcement

A Ring video of a recent larceny in James City County. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of James City County)
A Ring video of a recent larceny in James City County. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of James City County)

These days some residents in the Historic Triangle rely on security cameras outside their doors to monitor their front porch.

So how often do the residents share their security footage with the local law enforcements agencies? Can the police department or sheriff’s office get direct access to these surveillance cameras?

James City County Police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams wrote in an email the department  “frequently” uses the surveillance from the Ring doorbells and they have seen more residents with the doorbell cameras.

So does the department gives residents the option to link their surveillance camera footage with the police department?

“We don’t link with them but we are on Ring Neighbors,” she said. “That allows residents to send us videos if they choose to.”

For example, if there was a “rash of larcenies from unlocked vehicles,” Williams said the department will send a message to the area, the neighborhood and “tell them we are looking for videos.”

Williams said residents have two options: Ignore their request or “send us everything.”

“People can be on Ring Neighbors even if they don’t have a Ring system,” she said. “You don’t even have to have a camera to be on the site…even if you don’t have a ring system you can still send us videos.”

She added the department does not see names or addresses of the people who share their surveillance footage. She sent a link to James City County’s civic alert about their partnership with Ring.

“I think it’s important for people to understand they can be on this site whether they have a camera or not and they can see things going on in the neighborhood,” Williams said.

But there are some pros and cons to owning home security cameras.

“Home security systems can add a layer of security to your home and can help in identifying suspects if an incident is captured on the cameras,” Williams said. “Doorbell cameras often do not have real-time monitoring like some systems, so you may not see the video(s) until after-the-fact.”

“The cameras also come at a cost and some with recurring monthly cost, so that would also have to be considered,” she added.

Doorbell cameras also help law enforcement solicit information about crimes caught on tape.

WYDaily reached out to Williamsburg Police spokesmen, Officers John Heilman and Charlie Ericcson, but they were unavailable for comment.

But when WYDaily last spoke with Williamsburg Police in regards to doorbell camera use, the department announced their partnership with the free Neighbors app, offered by Ring.

The app allows residents to access real-time crime and safety information for their neighborhood, as well as anonymously post crime-related information and photos and videos.

At the time, the department was the first in the Historic Triangle to establish such a partnership. Whether or not the department is still working with Ring is unclear.

RELATED STORY: Williamsburg Police partner with Ring, giving residents new app to share crime info

In York County, Shelley Ward, spokeswoman for York-Poqouson Sheriff’s Office, said in the past few years the county has seen an increase in doorbell cameras use.

Through the Shield Program, York County residents are encouraged to let the sheriff’s office know they have a camera in place, so when a crime occurs, deputies can reach out to people who might have footage that could help.

York County also uses Facebook and the neighborhood Nextdoor site to ask for footage if a crime happened in a certain area.

“Any neighborhood crime that we are looking into there is pretty much always a camera that has recorded something somewhere,” Ward said. 

Editor’s note: Footage used in this story came from the James City County Police Department. Authorities said the suspects in the video “made entry into multiple unlocked vehicles throughout the Jamestown Road/Lake Powell Road areas of the county” on Sept. 19 and Oct. 3. Several items, including firearms, credit cards, checks and cash were taken. Police are asking anyone who may recognize the suspects and know of their whereabouts to contact Investigator Tim Renwick at 757-259-5164 or tim.renwick@jamescitycountyva.gov  or call the Crime Line at 888-LOCK-U-UP.

You may also submit tips online at p3tips.com. Callers to the Crime Line and P3 Tips users may remain anonymous, do not have to testify in court and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to an arrest, authorities said.

WYDaily journalists Julia Marsigliano, Gabrielle Rente and Annie Gallo contributed to this report.

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Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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