Keeping your family safe with and without security cameras

San Ramon, CALIF. (KGO) -- According to the FBI, property crimes are falling and one reason may be because of the proliferation of relatively inexpensive security cameras.

It happens in an instant-- a package stolen from your doorstep in Hayward. A bike lifted from your garage in San Francisco. A flare shot into your home. That actually happened in San Ramon, and police were able to nab the four teenagers responsible, thanks to home security cameras in the neighborhood.

Corporal Leyse Pelayo is with the San Ramon police department. "When you have evidence like that, it's really important - and big in cases like that," said Pelayo.

San Ramon Police were one of the first departments in the Bay Area to create a registry of private surveillance cameras.

Pelayo said, "Our investigators use this tool pretty frequently - all they have to do is input the address of the incident where it occurred, and they can see if there are cameras in the surrounding areas."

The San Ramon Police department Surveillance Camera Registry is voluntary. Residents can register online, and if a crime occurs, the police will call and ask to see their video. It's up to you to share it.

"It's another tool for us in law enforcement, and honestly I think it helps build relations and trust with the community. So they understand that we are actively trying to investigate these crimes that are occurring in our neighborhoods," said Pelayo.

Many Bay Area cities now offer surveillance camera registration programs. Check with your local police department to register yours.

Most of us think of burglary as aggressive, someone breaking into our home. But the convenience of having packages delivered directly to us has given thieves an even easier way to make off with our stuff, and security cameras are catching these porch pirates in the act all the time.

Savannah Bigley is with Southern California based RING, makers of the popular RING doorbell. She said, "more than one in four U.S. Homeowners have been a victim of a home burglary. So that's a very alarming, alarming fact. "

The company is owned by online deliver giant Amazon. RING commissioned studies on home security and burglaries.

"The point in doing these studied was to more so bring awareness to issues like package theft and burglaries, and brings solutions to the table on how to protect yourself," said Bigley.

The study also found that thefts spiked around the December holidays. But not remained constant the rest of the year Victims reported a package stolen more than 2 times a year. The average loss? $140.

It also came up with some simple tips to keep you from being the victim of package theft:
  • Be home for the delivery.

  • Have your package delivered to a neighbor or friend nearby.

  • Order online - but pick up your package at the store

  • Leave a note with directions on where to leave a package, out of sight from the street.

"Having specific instructions like put it behind the fence, or things like that," said Bigley.

RING also has an app that allows you to share suspicious activity and chat with neighbors about what's going on in the neighborhood. Having that relationship with your community is something police encourage as well.

"For those who can't have a camera," said Pelayo, "Start a neighborhood watch program, where you know who your neighbors are. When they see something out of place, that just doesn't seem right, or anything suspicious, absolutely call your local police department."
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