Residents combat 'door knock' robberies with camera systems

With "door knock burglaries" on the rise in the Bay Area, 7 On Your Side takes a look at home surveillance camera systems.
November 11, 2013 10:37:56 PM PST
Police are reporting a big surge in so-called "door knock burglaries" all over the Bay Area. That's when thieves knock on your door and if you don't answer, they break in. But now, more and more homeowners are catching these guys on camera to help police. 7 On Your Side found out more about how a surveillance system can help keep your family safe.

It's always been homeowners who are surprised by burglars. Now, more and more, it's the burglars who are shocked when they find out their crimes were just caught on camera. Surveillance cameras scare off intruders and they lead to arrests. So we decided to show how you can protect your home with video surveillance.

Some of the crimes captured on camera are stunning. In one, a team of burglars was caught on camera in San Jose. A woman clutching a baby was seen on camera knocking on the front door. No one answered, so her partners broke into the back of the home.

Another video showed burglars in San Leandro who never knew a camera was watching as they cased a house, then quietly pulled up a car, and wrenched open the back window.

In another case, two men kicked their way into an El Cerrito home only to realize a camera had captured their crime. One tried to knock it out, but it was too late.

"Everybody wants video surveillance now," said Calvin Laporte-Anderson from Cali Communications and Wiring.

Laporte-Anderson has installed cameras at dozens of Bay Area homes just this past year, as more and more homeowners use surveillance to catch thieves and vandals who threaten their comes. And forget the grainy pictures of the past, today's high definition cameras clearly show faces. Many will send you video of the break-ins as they are happening, wherever you may be.

"I thought it's about time for me to install a camera," said Fremont resident Hasan.

Hasan couldn't figure out why he wasn't receiving his mail. So he installed a $350 do-it-yourself camera under his roof, wired it to his computer, and then found out why.

"I saw the young lady came into my driveway," said Hasan.

While he was at work, his camera detected motion. It sent an alert to Hasan's smartphone saying someone had just entered his property. He downloaded the video, saw the postman deliver a package to the front porch and then saw the hit.

"This white car drives up and a young lady came out of the car and walked into my driveway," said Hasan.

The woman marched directly to his front porch, came back with that package and then took a quick detour to the mailbox, cleaning it out, before jumping in the car. Now police have that video and so do the feds.

Hasan was able to install his own camera at little cost, but it may not be that easy for everyone.

"I am not techie literate, so you know that's the caution that I would have," said San Francisco homeowner Bernice Fischer.

Fischer wanted surveillance cameras to catch the vandals who kept spraying graffiti and breaking planters at her San Francisco apartment house. She said, "When you do go in and buy something, you better know up front how you're going to install it."

Fischer bought a do-it-yourself surveillance kit with eight cameras for $1,600, then stared at all the wires. She would have to run cable between walls two feet thick, drill into bricks and link the system to her Internet. She hired Laporte-Anderson.

"They came in, they ran the conduits, they got the cameras adjusted. To me it's well worth it," said Fischer.

Laporte-Anderson's help doubled the cost to about $3,500, but she now has a crystal clear panoramic view.

"We are seeing more people looking for this type of surveillance," said Alicia Abigana, a Home Depot manager.

So what options are best for you?

A $150 nanny cam can sit on a shelf and transmit the picture wirelessly to your computer. That's simple enough.

One kit we looked at for $300 comes with four cameras, but requires running cable to a recorder. It requires a little more work.

A $249 wireless kit can come with two cameras and a portable monitor, but you'll need a good Wi-Fi connection and you need to be a little tech savvy.

Expensive models like a $2,100 dome camera can give you benefits like a sharper picture, night vision, durability and video storage.

Any camera scares off intruders.

Another way to get surveillance is if you use a security company like ADT or Bay Alarm, you can add cameras to your packages. The companies charge a monthly fee to monitor both the burglar alarm and the security cameras. Prices depend on the size of your system and how many cameras you want. If you have broadband at home, you can do this for as cheap as $150.


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