Homeowners have a new weapon in their fight to find the people breaking into Tri-Cities homes – crystal clear video and sound recorded by homeowners who spent a few hundred dollars to arm themselves.
Wayne Lowe is one of them. He was shocked when someone stole a trailer from the garage of his Greene County home last year. “I was that guy,” Lowe said. “Unfortunately, I was unprepared for the fact someone could burglarize my home.”
So Lowe purchased a wireless home video surveillance system for less than $200. “It took me about five minutes to set it up,” he said.
A few weeks later while he was at work, Lowe got a motion alert notification through the home secruity camera system app tied to his mobile phone.
“I just stood there and stared at the screen,” he said. “Honestly, I went into a state of shock.”
Lowe said he played back video recorded just moments earlier of a man walking around the inside of his hom. After calling 911, he said Greene County deputies were at his home within minutes. The intruder got away with several guns, a jar of money, his son’s Playstation 4, and some family heirlooms.
When an officer asked if he had a description of the intruder, “I said, ‘Yes, I do,'” Lowe said. “And he said, ‘How do you know? And I said ‘I have footage of him.'”
For Tri-Cities police, Lowe’s story is increasingly common. As home security cameras evolve and become more affordable and easier to install without professional assistance, more and more victims of crime are giving police video evidence of the crime as it happened.
“We’re seeing more and more people use camera systems now,” said Investigator Clint Arnett with the Washington Co. TN Sheriff’s Office. “And that’s a good thing.”
Arnett said his office recently arrested a man caught on camera stealing a weed eater. Video of the crime was posted on social media and shown on News Channel 11 news. That video led to multiple tips from the public.
“We like to see cases where the cameras are used because more often than not we hone in a suspect from those,” said Arnett.
But veteran investigators caution the cameras alone aren’t enough.
“It’s worth being vigilant first and exhausting all other means,” said Major Shawn Judy, WCSO. “Put your stuff up. Talk to all your neighbors. Use common sense first and then implement the tech.”
Tips from police for successful camera usage:
- Make sure the time and date stamp on the video is accurate
- Know how to retrieve the video, store it, and send it for review by police.
- Place the cameras at eye level for the best shots of suspect faces and cars
- Make sure the cameras are out of reach and hidden from clear view.
WATCH: video of a home burglary. This video provided by the Washington Co TN Sheriff’s Office.
Not long after Wayne Lowe’s video got posted on the Greene County Sheriff’s office Facebook, investigators arrested four suspects.
“I’m so thankful for the cameras,” he said. “This helps law enforcement to no end. If you have footage of somebody you can cut their time down and their resource time in half.”