Security cameras have become an extra set of eyes for homeowners and businesses to help fight crime, but are they really that effective?
These days, you can find all types of cameras installed in and outside people’s homes, and the images are clearer than ever.
KHON2 wanted to know if they’re actually helping police officers solve crimes.
HPD says cameras have become an important tool for officers, but like all tools, owners must use them properly and with some discretion.
Chantal Keliihoomalu and her family woke up Tuesday morning and found out two of their cars, parked right outside their Kapolei home, had been broken into.
“We noticed that the contents of the middle compartment and the glove box in our car was emptied out and my husband’s wallet, which had been in the middle compartment, wasn’t there,” she said.
Her neighbor’s cars were also broken into and a security camera caught the suspect rummaging through the vehicles.
HPD says using security camera footage has become a critical part of an investigation.
“People are sending in a lot more than just, ‘Oh, I saw this guy or I saw this girl,’ and giving us a description,” said Sgt. Kim Buffett of Crimestoppers. “They’re like, ‘This is the picture. This is what they’re doing. This is where I saw it.’ So it really has been helpful to us solving crimes, definitely.”
Social media has also become part of the arsenal to fight crime. The Facebook page “Stolen Stuff Hawaii” allows group members to post videos of crimes in their neighborhood.
In the year and a half since it started, it has grown to 38,000 members and it keeps growing.
“We do see success stories quite frequently,” said Stolen Stuff Hawaii creator Michael Kitchens. “We see people that have posted, ‘Hey, we found the guys. Thanks for spreading the word. Somebody reported him. They saw him. We found our car.’ It is pretty successful in that regard.”
HPD says there’s no doubt that security cameras have played an important role in solving all types of cases, but like a lot of things, it does have its drawbacks.
The biggest one is privacy. Those cameras are only allowed to shoot in areas that are considered public space.
“If you’re going to video someone, make sure it’s in a public place and nobody has a reasonable expectation of privacy, because then you’ll be violating their privacy,” said Buffet.
Another common problem HPD faces is owners not being able to download the video when officers arrive.
Buffet asks that you should at least have the manual on hand so officers can figure out how to download the video.