New Hi-Tech Cameras Allow Neighbors to Keep Closer Watch on Streets

on Nov13
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Thieves are breaking into cars and homes across Southern California, overwhelming homeowners and inundating police departments.

But now, there’s a new Hi-Tech way some homeowners are fighting back against the crooks, monitoring who’s coming and going, and keeping a log of it all.

Robert Shontell, of Sherman Oaks and his neighbors know what time you entered their neighborhood, what time you left, the type of car you’re driving, and your license plate.

Shontell is watching his street on his computer using a system called Flock, Hi-Tech cameras that cost about $2,000 each.

Neighbors banded together to install and pay for them after several break-ins.

“Somebody came down and went through my wife’s car right in front of the house,” Shontell said. “I’ve seen people go through my mailbox. Several people’s cars have been burglarized along the street and a couple of break ins into people’s property.”

According to data from the Los Angeles Police Department, so far this year, there have been almost 75,000 property crimes reported in LA.

Shontell doesn’t want to say how many cameras are in this neighborhood, but points out they’re all on private property, and only record what’s going on in the street.

“The way to use it is if something happens and they say, ‘Well I was gone from 1 in the afternoon until 4, so it happened between then,'” Shontell said. “We can then search all the vehicles that have come into the system between that time frame.”

UCLA law professor and privacy expert Eugene Volokh says some may think it’s creepy to be watched so closely, but it isn’t against the law.

“There is a first amendment right to record things on public streets,” said Volokh.

“People can’t break into your home or perhaps even peer through your windows, but if you’re driving down the street, your license plate is visible to the world.’

The neighborhood has only had the cameras for a few months, so it’s still too early to say if they’re effective.

But, in Cobb County, Georgia, where homeowners were some of the first to try the technology, police report a 60% reduction in crime.

“It’s one in the arsenal of things you can do,” said Shontell. “Go out and meet your neighbors. Be aware. Do whatever you think helps you, but do something.”

Flock said the technology is being used in 10 different communities across California, but won’t say which ones.

If neighbors don’t want their comings and goings tracked, Flock says those people can alert the person in charge of the technology and the system will kick out their information any time they drive through.

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