Home surveillance systems changing the game in fighting crime

One of the tools that people are using to combat crime is home surveillance systems like Nest and Ring. They are easy to install and capture amazing images of criminals in action. But how do these videos translate into getting criminals off the streets and behind bars? Here is a closer look at the new research and the new ways Bay Area police departments are tackling that challenge.

It happens 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 teens responsible thanks to home security cameras in the neighborhood.

"When you have evidence like that, it's really important and big in cases like that," said San Ramon Police Corporal Leysy Pelayo.

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

"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," said Corporal Pelayo.

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.

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Most of us think of a burglary as aggressive, someone breaking into our home, but the convenience of having a 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.

"More than one in four U.S. Homeowners have been a victim of a home burglary. So that's a very alarming, alarming fact," said Savannah Bigley, Southern California RING.

RING is owned by online deliver giant Amazon. Users of the Ring device and Neighbors app remain anonymous to local law enforcement. It is up to the user to decide when, what and how they choose to share their video. 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 found that thefts spiked around the December holidays, but did not remain constant the rest of the year. The victims reported a package stolen more than two times a year the average loss was $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 site from the street.

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

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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 - 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," said Pelayo.

Sound advice to keep you and your family safe.

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