NFL player stops suspected car burglar by using Owl Car Cam, Bay Area-based dash cam technology

CHARLOTTE, NC (KGO) -- New technology from a Bay Area company is suddenly the talk of the NFL. That's because the Owl Car Cam allowed a Carolina Panthers player to stop a suspected car burglar. Carolina Panthers fullback Alex Armah is sharing with ABC7 News the stunning story and video of the encounter.

It happened in February at Armah's apartment complex in Charlotte. After having had his car broken into a couple of months before and feeling violated, the football player had enough. He researched dash cam security systems and decided to install the Owl Cam. It's made by a Palo Alto company, founded by one of the lead engineers who designed the iPod and the first iPhone, Andy Hodge.

RELATED: Car break-ins are on the rise in Milpitas after 145 reported in first 2 months of the year

The camera uses AI to learn what is normal, and what is not. Hodge says, "It noticed something was happening around the car. It sent a notification to Alex. He literally sitting on his couch saw what was happening, he could live view."
Armah recounts what happened when he got the alert, "I look at my screen and I see someone in my car. And that's when the adrenaline kicked in and I was like, this is real." Armah sprinted into the garage, where he confronted the man he had just seen on live video.

He says the man saw how angry the football player looked, so he tried to deny that he had been in the car.

"He was like 'oh I wasn't in it, I was just checking it out man.' But I have you on camera in my car. So what were you doing in it?"

Armah says the man insisted that he was a resident. But when the concierge got involved, the lie was exposed. The man tried to run, but had no chance against the 6'2, 255-pound fullback, who also happens to know a wrestling move known as the armbar. Armah was able to keep the man pinned until police arrived about three minutes later.

Charlotte police identify the suspect as 32-year-old Daniel Cagle, who's been charged with attempted break-in. Cagle had also been charged in 2012 for a felony car break-in.

In San Francisco, where break-in's are a huge problem, police say most car thieves are indeed repeat offenders, but few get caught. SFPD gave ABC7 News a statement which says, "SFPD investigators welcome such evidence, which may aid in our investigations. We do not recommend confronting suspects and potentially putting yourself in harm's way. We ask that if you witness a crime, contact the police immediately and be available to provide information for our investigation."
Owl Cam's CEO Hodge believes dash cam systems like this one could prove useful in San Francisco.

"A camera like this in your neighborhood may be able to help catch that person who isn't breaking into just one car, but is breaking into not just dozens before, but dozens or hundreds after."

RELATED: Car camera CEO explains how this tech can help you

As for Armah, he wants to clear it to all would-be burglars that breaking into his car is not worth it. He keeps it unlocked and never stores any valuables inside. And if the lack of reward is not enough incentive, he'd like to remind bad guys that they would not want to wrestle him.

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.