Surveillance cameras an option for home security

Some opt for do-it-yourself cameras; others need a monitored security system

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Glenn Wilke's street is dark at night. So dark, you wouldn't notice the red eye above his garage door watching and recording everything.

"[The system] is really kind of self-explanatory, right out of the box," Wilke said.

It's common to find surveillance cameras in businesses, at ATM's and government buildings, but a spokesman with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said cameras are popping up more and more in homes.

Wilke installed his camera system about two years ago. He guesses he's spent around $300.

"Once you have it for a while, you just don't even think about it anymore until something does happen, and you go back and look," Wilke said.

Earlier this year something did happen.

"I went back and looked and saw what I didn't really want to see."

What Wilke didn't want to see was a thief opening up his truck in the middle of the night, and stealing one of his loaded handguns. Wilke's garage door camera recorded the theft in August. He blames himself for forgetting to lock the truck, but he's happy he was able to give police some evidence of what happened. Even with the video, no one has been arrested.

IMAGES:  Surveillance cameras and security

JSO Officer Shannon Hartley likes to ask the public for help identifying bad guys caught on tape and says surveillance video never hurts an investigation. Hartley posts videos depicting crimes to YouTube so more people can see them.  

"It may be a great piece of video where we have the suspect's face, but we still have to identify him. We still have to utilize all the other avenues of investigation to make identification," Hartley said.

Channel 4's crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson helped Channel 4's Jason Law install a surveillance camera in his home.

"You want to strategically place it somewhere that covers a large amount of your front yard," Jefferson advises. "Most of the time burglars aren't going to be up and looking around. You want to try to get [the camera] high enough where they can't reach it."

For Cheryl Arsenault though, setting up security cameras in her home isn't an option.

"No, we don't have cameras. It wouldn't do us any good," Arsenault said, because her and her husband Don are both blind. They still want to be safe in their home, so they opted to go with a system from a local security company.

"It's nice to have that sense of security, knowing that if anyone breaks in anywhere, there's going to be trouble," she said.

Safe Touch is a popular security company based in Jacksonville.

"With the new iPhones and smart phones nowadays, we're really getting way ahead of stuff. It's really hard for us to keep up sometimes," said Lester Jackson, Safe Touch owner and operator.

Jackson says the latest cameras run several hundred dollars. He says he's not threatened by the "do-it-yourself home security" packages on the market.

"Our stuff is so inexpensive, let us do it. That's what we do all day long, the same thing, versus the home owner trying to do it and it doesn't come out right," Jackson said.

Channel 4 compared prices with five local security companies online, and they vary anywhere from $20 to $60 a month, depending on the type of system you want. On top of that there are sometimes installation fees.  Keep in mind, most companies require you sign into a contract for their services.

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