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The Grinch might have had a harder time absconding with all of Whoville’s goodies in 2021 thanks to the prevalence of porch video surveillance equipment that local police say helps solve crimes.
Just take a look on any given day at neighborhood social site Nextdoor, where fliers advertising missing cats, dogs and the occasional turtle or chicken are interspersed with chilling video footage of strangers creeping around private properties.
Livermore Police Sgt. Steve Goard said videos posted on Nextdoor and the Ring platform are giving officers a new tool to help make the community safer.
While California doesn’t allow law enforcement to use facial recognition software, police say having video showing someone at a crime scene comes in handy later, for example, if the suspect’s cell phone data also places them at that location.
“We would love for them to go to court and for us to have videos of them,” Goard said.
While residents sometimes feel it’s a waste of time or a burden to report suspicious behavior caught on video, Goard said, he stressed that it’s useful. He said Livermore detectives are assigned to crosscheck video evidence while investigating crimes, and it can help lead to arrests.
Even if a resident chooses not to report a seemingly minor crime, Ring offers a way for detectives to reach out proactively and ask to come take a report, especially if they recognize a pattern of crimes may be occurring.
He also says platforms such as Nextdoor and Ring flag one’s neighbors to pay more attention to what’s going on.
As far as the mindset of criminals who seem oblivious to the fact that they may be recorded red-handed, Goard said he can’t imagine their motivation but said they don’t seem to be intimidated.
“The lights will go on, and the camera goes on, and they continue to go on and burglarize the car,” he said.
With holiday gifts just unwrapped, Goard reminds the public that writing down serial numbers of valuable electronics or tools is important and helps investigators track stolen items across state lines.
“(Video services) are absolutely making the community safer,” Gourd says, adding that even if one house doesn’t have a camera, odds are the one next door does.