Oakland neighbors unify to catch thieves on camera

Oakland neighbors unify to catch thieves on camera
November 26, 2012 7:03:26 PM PST
They're calling it "Neighborhood Guard" -- a combination of watchful neighbors and infrared surveillance cameras. Help is certainly needed; the latest statistics from the Oakland Police Department show home burglaries are up 26 percent.

There have been 4,354 residential break-ins so far this year, compared to 3,461 at this time last year. And the stats show a 78-percent spike in car break-ins -- 5,743 this year compared to 3,232 in late November of 2011.

Neighborhood Watch is nothing new, but Neighborhood Guard captures images with high-tech cameras and stores the information to a cloud-based server system. If a crime happens in the neighborhood, all they have to do is point, click and send the information to authorities.

"A neighbor actually called me a couple of minutes ago and told me there are a bunch of people in front of her house and our house. 'What's going on?' So I came outside to see," said David Karamain, an Oakland resident.

And what he found was me, talking to Jesper "JJ" Jurcenoks about the use of high-tech cameras in their neighborhood.

"It's a modest investment," said Karamain.

Karamain has lived here for three years and for a few hundred dollars, he and his neighbors had the cameras installed as part of a neighborhood co-op called Neighborhood Guard.

Signs posted along the entrance to Jercenoks' Oakland hills neighborhood warns all who enter, you're being watched, sending a strong message to those up to no good.

"Never again will we allow a criminal to enter or leave our neighborhood undetected," said Jurcenoks.

After a neighbor was the target of a violent home invasion, he encouraged his block to take action - thus, the introduction of the cameras. Some you can see; others are hidden. Neighborhood Guard showed us they captured my photographer and me as we entered the neighborhood. The focus on the cameras is so clear, you can easily identify my facial features, articles of clothing and general weight and height - all of that is stored on a database. Those living in the neighborhood will give the police the video images if there's a crime.

"Anytime you can bring that element into and forward the investigation, it's very valuable," said Oakland Police Officer Johnna Watson.

The infrared cameras even work well in low or no light. The neighbors aren't concerned about being watched.

"Nobody externally is watching us and because we know who we are, we know who don't belong here," said Karamain.

And police say that is key, knowing who does and does not belong in the neighborhood can provide law enforcement with valuable information.


Load Comments