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Police agencies say registering doorbell cameras can help solve crimes

Sheriff's offices using home surveillance video to catch, prosecute criminals

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doorbell cameras are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners, and police departments nationwide are also benefiting.

Some agencies across the country are asking people in their area to register their systems with law enforcement, so it’s easier for police to request footage if an incident happens nearby. 

Some local sheriff’s offices in Northeast Florida are also looking into this and told News4Jax that these camera systems help solve crimes.

Mallory Parson has a Ring video doorbell and said she would highly recommend any type of home security system. 

She said video from her camera showed a man in April stealing a bike off her St. Augustine front porch. 

She said thanks to her Ring doorbell, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office caught the man.

“Oh, it’s worth it,” Parson said. “Especially in our community, and it was when we had something stolen and it was very easily recovered and just that peace of mind and security because we felt violated before we had this camera.”

Not only can the doorbell camera systems be beneficial for the homeowner if something happens on their property, but they can also be beneficial if a crime happens on the street in front of the home. Police can use that video to possibly help them with their investigation.

Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said this past weekend was a prime example of that when investigators were searching for clues as to what car hit and killed two bicyclists on Racetrack Road and kept driving. 

“We asked for any of the individuals who lived in a particular community to look at their video surveillance systems, their home camera systems and let us know if they had seen this car drive past,” Mulligan said. “Because that, for us, will become evidence.”

Mulligan said the Sheriff’s Office partners with Ring through their Neighbors by Ring free app. Anyone can register any brand of home camera system, giving quick access to videos they choose to neighbors and police. 

Mulligan encourages residents in St. Johns County to look into the app if they do have a home security system.  

“It goes back to the original neighborhood watch concept,” Mulligan said. “The more eyes and ears we have as a community looking out for each other, the safer that community is, the more effective law enforcement becomes.”

Parson said she credits the app for not only catching the bike thief, but also bringing the bike back. She said she posted the video in the app and thinks word got back to the thief because she said before he was arrested, he returned it with an apology note. 

Anyone with a home surveillance camera that can be accessed from a phone can use the Neighbors by Ring app to upload their video to help law enforcement. 

You can download the free Neighbors by Ring app through the Apple app store or Google Play.

Then just sign up for a free Ring account and enter your home address. The app will allow you to create a report, where you can upload photos and videos from your gallery and include a title, description and location of the incident.

St. Johns County isn’t the only local sheriff’s office that finds these home camera systems to be beneficial. See responses below from some other Northeast Florida law enforcement agencies.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

As a department, JSO has and will continue to utilize surveillance video as a tool in solving crimes in our community. With the advent of doorbell cameras, as well as the popularity of residential web-based cameras, videos of crimes and the suspects are more and more prevalent as a resource and assist in solving crimes. We routinely receive videos from the community as pro-active tips, as well. We request video from citizens when crimes occur in their area as a result of canvassing following the reporting of crimes. This evidence has proven invaluable to investigators through the process; from investigating, to arrest as well as prosecution of individuals responsible for committing these crimes. We would remind our community that if they "See Something, Say Something" -- even in relation to possible crimes captured on any of the many devices and platforms available in today's market.

We have, and will continue to look at the many providers and services available in this field in an effort to utilize these services or possibly partner with them, in the furtherance of public safety.

Clay County Sheriff's Office

We are looking into this, to be part of our Clay Community Connect (C3) program. Lt. Johnson is actually in communications with developers from Ring. 

At this time we do not have an agreement with that company, but we certainly ask people to review their doorbell cameras when we are working cases in our neighborhoods. Many times intelligence can be gathered from doing so and these cameras are beneficial.

Bradford County Sheriff's Office

Haven’t discussed this yet. 

Nassau County Sheriff's Office

Having the capability to directly access these cameras in case a crime has been committed is something that we are working toward in the future. Any type of video surveillance or camera photos are very helpful when law enforcement is looking for potential suspects in a crime. Being able to get the information out to other deputies and the public quickly can certainly help in finding the suspects.