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Security Cameras Catch a Criminal in the Act, and a Realtor Casing Home

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October 26, 2012
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Security Cameras Catch a Criminal in the Act, and a Realtor Casing Home

After more than two decades in this business, I’ve observed that many homeowners choose a monitored home alarm system only after something bad happens. We call it an “event-driven decision,” and that “event” could be an burglary in your home, a scary story from a friend or relative, or perhaps something bad happening in your neighborhood. But now that alarm systems cost less and are doing more, it’s easier (and more logical) to protect your home and family, and get additional features – like interactive monitoring, home automation, and home video services. Today we’re touching on video, with two great examples of why modern security camera technology makes sense for more homes – and could make sense for you.

The first news story comes from Berlin, VT, and describes in detail what security cameras have to offer: not just peace of mind, but possible evidence for criminal prosecution. And local law enforcement puts the product of security cameras to good use: I see stories all the time of how police catch up with burglars after security cam footage is released to the public, and the intruders are identified.

Berlin homeowner Albie Borne says he installed surveillance cameras a few years ago after a home invasion nearby got him thinking about his family's safety. On Tuesday he says these cameras came in handy. "This guy came up here-- he knew there was a security system. In four minutes he smashed and grabbed; in and out," Borne said. The suspect may have made off with the goods, but not before Borne's cameras clearly caught a few of his distinguishing features like his stocky build and tattoos.

Police Love Pictures of Perps

Police say images like these are a blessing. That's because burglaries can be challenging to solve. Police say the crooks typically leave very little evidence behind. But home surveillance systems are leveling the playing field. "If we didn't have the images it would be much more difficult. We've gotten a bunch of names, and the information is still incoming, versus if we didn't have the images, we wouldn't have the public's help in trying to solve this," Berlin Police Officer Chris Alting said. Police say the man caught on camera may be linked to at least four other break-ins in Berlin and Barre.

Burglary Victim’s Advice

Borne has one suggestion for other homeowners: "Get a security system. Spend the money," he said. "It's cheap protection. You can arm your house at night. You can be sleeping and if an intruder walks in at least you're going to have a notification." There are now roughly 3,000 burglaries every year in Vermont. But police say there are a few easy precautions that every homeowner can take. "Keep your doors locked. Keep your windows locked even when you're home," Alting advised. The Bornes say they can get over the break-in, but will never be able to replace what the crook stole. "Our parents passed away in the last few years and it's just a lot of stuff we can't replace. That's what the heartbreaker is. You can't put money value on it," Borne said. But he says he will feel a whole lot better once this burglar is behind bars.

 Realtor Caught Casing Home

The second report comes from Portage, Indiana, where a homeowner’s security camera captured images of a realtor who was inspecting the home a little too closely, where he should not have been.

Most homeowners don't have security cameras in their home to show what happens in their house, and they never know what they are missing. "I was shaking, I was really shaking," said Marcia Kistler, whose house in Portage is for sale. She has footage of a real estate agent going through her kitchen cabinet captured by the family's motion sensor security cameras. Kistler believes the Realtor was looking for drugs. "[He] opens them up, then sees there's medication in there, it's all right in the front," said Kistler describing what she saw on the video. "Takes out one of them. You can see that he picked it up and puts it back in. Grabs a chair, brings it back over there. Then he goes to the front window, looks outside. Then he gets up on the chair and looks at everything in that cabinet."

Only Over-the-Counter, but Realtor Over the Top

Kistler said over the counter medications were in the cabinets and nothing was taken, but thinks the realtor was looking for prescription drugs. She has filed a police report and the Portage Police Department has launched an investigation. The well-known realtor, who has been in the business for several years, could not explain what was caught on tape and declined to speak about it. NBC Chicago is not revealing his identity due to the ongoing investigation. The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors is expected to look into whether the agent's actions violated their Code of Ethics. "You want to sell your house and you have to be open," said Kistler. "But when there are people out there that are going to do this, it makes you sad."

While FrontPoint is all about making homes and families safer all across the US and Canada, it’s good to remember that protection has evolved – and expanded. Traditional intrusion-only systems are giving way to new technologies that include fire and environmental monitoring, a full suite of interactive features, intelligent video, and even home automation. When you’re ready for the real peace of mind that comes from being protected and connected, think FrontPoint. With systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat, we’re the leader in interactive, wireless home security – and we’ve got the pictures to prove it!

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