Home cameras help catch burglaries in progress

July 18, 2012 7:25:36 PM PDT
Police on the peninsula have been battling a rash of residential burglaries, from Daly City to East Palo Alto. Many neighbors have installed surveillance cameras in front of their homes and that is helping cops nab some of these crooks.

There have been five residential burglaries in Belmont so far this month and normally, they are very difficult cases to crack, but more and more, the victims or their neighbors are providing police with remarkably sharp surveillance videos showing the crime in progress.

"That's the suspect right there in the white shirt. He's coming down with a suitcase and another bag that he's taken from the victim that he's using to carry their property," said Belmont Police Lt. Patrick Halleran, as he explained what the video shows.

Belmont police investigators are hoping someone will recognize the car, and possibly the man, who broke into a house last week and walked off calmly with jewelry and electronics. The video was shot by a neighbor's surveillance camera. The car is a two-door blue or possibly green Mercedes with large chrome rims. Detectives aren't sure of the suspects' race.

"In this case here the suspect was in the victim's house for almost a half hour, and we got that time based on the camera," said Halleran.

Strategically placed cameras are proving to be more reliable than vigilant neighbors. Val Fousekis lives next door to the house that was burglarized.

"I was home, and I blame myself for not being able to sense anything," said Fousekis.

He saw the video and was amazed by the high resolution. Belmont police say they get access to surveillance video in about a third of home burglary cases. They're building a database to know who has cameras.

"One of our volunteers helps us coordinate this program, so that we know where the video surveillance cameras are so that we can go directly to those houses and retrieve the surveillance if necessary," said Belmont Sgt. Pete Lott.

Another neighbor also has a video camera trained on his back yard to nab deer eating his garden vegetables, but it could also catch a thief. He gets live video feeds on his iPad or smartphone. His camera costs $59. The complete systems can run $800.

"The cost of this technology is coming down to just having this kind of technology provides security both for the homeowner as well as an ability to share information with the police department," said Belmont resident Gladwyn D'Souza.

The video's best value is if someone can identify the car or the burglar. And Belmont police hope someone seeing this can help solve this break-in.

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