Doorbell security cameras are becoming more and more commonplace in neighborhoods, used by many homeowners as a way to catch package thieves or track mysterious visitors on their doorstep. But these devices are also coming in handy for police. In some cities across the U.S., police are asking people to register their doorbell cameras, or even offering discounts on them if people will agree to share footage that can help solve crimes or catch criminals.
Nowhere are doorbell cameras more useful than in a large city like Houston. "Those types of camera systems are very helpful in catching package thieves that we know are running rampant everywhere," says Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union. "These cameras are basically in high definition, so we can get a better description of the suspect, we can use those photos to help spread the word if someone is doing something wrong in a community, and we can also catch the license plates of cars that are driven up to the location."
The technology is definitely catching on. Market research firms predict sales of doorbell cameras will exceed $1.4 billion by 2023, up from $500 million last year. Gamaldi recommends getting one, but ensuring that it allows you to save the footage. "If you have the resources, please install one of those doorbell cameras, plus you always want to have more security on your house than your neighbor," he says. "Make sure you can actually present the officer with the video, and that we can have a better chance of catching the people who may have stolen your stuff or broken into your house."