(Valley News Live) - Security cameras, like the Ring video doorbell, can provide comfort to homeowners when they’re away. But when porch pirates or vandals strike, how effective are the systems in catching criminals?
We asked Moorhead police captain, Derek Swenson: are security cameras really protecting our things—or just watching people steal our stuff?
"Don't let those cameras give you that false sense of security," Swenson said. “…those cameras are catching you being victimized. They're not preventing you necessarily becoming a victim."
Swenson says his department was able to find suspects in one recent porch pirate case, but so far there have been no convictions. In fact, Swenson says of all the front-porch perpetrators reported, probably less than 10 percent have been charged at all.
"I would say a very low number have been prosecuted compared to the amount of people that have been victims of crimes," he said.
So why is it so difficult to convict a criminal who's already been caught on camera? Sgt. Tim Briggeman of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, says a glimpse of a person's face on camera isn't always enough to solve a crime.
"When you're dealing with the Fargo-Moorhead metro area,” Briggeman said, “you're dealing with 200-plus-thousand people…and that gets to be frustrating I would assume for victims, because they are providing us if they have access on their residence to this video."
Still he says, it's better to have the security:
"Whether it be one week or you know, one month down the road,” Briggeman said, “you know, if these people are held accountable in another part of the city, or another jurisdiction, we can always go back to this footage and still charge them in our jurisdiction."
Capt. Swenson agrees—and says often it has to do with the quality of the footage, which folks can enhance by using multiple cameras.
“Not just see a blob that looks like a male,” he said, “but something they can recognize, clothing, the person's face, the vehicle that they pulled in the driveway with."
Fargo and West Fargo police both say they don't have specific statistics on arrests linked to home security systems. But Fargo police say they were able to charge suspects on an incident that happened earlier this month.