Burglars Rip Off Police Chief’s Home – but Security Cameras Lead to Arrest

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I’ve been recommending security cameras for years – not just for businesses, but for homes as well. Of all the features available through today’s interactive monitoring services, home video is one of the fastest growing. The equipment cost has come down, and you no longer need an expensive recorder in your home. Plus, you can even access your cameras remotely through your smart phone. The world of security video has evolved – for the better. Here’s a great news report about home security cameras from Toms River, NJ.

Talk about picking the wrong house! When a burglar scampered up the driveway of a house on Swain Avenue in Toms River Tuesday evening, he had no idea that his moves were caught on surveillance cameras. He also didn’t know the house he was breaking into belonged to the town’s police chief.

Cameras Installed Just in Time

“It is comforting as a victim to know exactly what happened, how it happened and this gives you the answer, said Toms River Police Chief Mike Mastronardy.  “I just installed the cameras two weeks ago.” Police have been investigating 48 residential burglaries in Toms River over the last two weeks. And the surveillance video gave detectives just the break they needed.

Of course, there was no way for the burglar to know it was the police chief’s house – or that cameras were recording the illegal entry. This story reminds me of last month’s post about a New Orleans police officer who was burglarized – and the thief in that earlier post took weapons. Fortunately, the stolen items in this incident were far less dangerous.

Solving Other Burglaries

“We had a vehicle description,” said Toms River Police Captain Bruce Burgess. “We had the video with the clothing description and we started putting together information, pieces of the puzzle through different witnesses. And it all came together. We were very fortunate.” Two unemployed men from nearby Beechwood were arrested Wednesday night on burglary charges.

Close Call – and there is a Better Way

Chief Mastronardy’s wife arrived home while the burglar was in the house. As she came in the back door, the burglar went out the front door with some jewelry, cash and prescription medicine. She tells me she really didn’t think they needed the surveillance system at the house. “I asked my husband, ‘What’s the big deal, why are we getting cameras?'” she told Action News. “He said, ‘Just because. What if we could catch a guy?'” Two weeks later they helped catch a thief. The chief says it cost him about a thousand dollars to install the security cameras. Considering how this played out, they were worth every cent.

I actually think he paid a bit more than he needed to. Plus, if these cameras had motion analytics built in, which most of the best cameras do, then the chief could have received a motion-activated video clip sent right to his smart phone as the burglar approached the house – and could have dispatched officers and caught the intruders on the spot. He also could have called his wife to warn her – and thereby avoided a possibly dangerous confrontation between intruder and homeowner. As a security professional, I want to avoid those face-to-face meetings at all costs.

That’s just one reason why a monitored alarm system is the best solution. Either the police chief did not have one, or it was not armed – otherwise the siren would have scared the burglar off before he could steal anything. A monitored system is the best resolution: security cameras are great additional protection and are useful for providing evidence, but should not be the first line of defense.

We like this story, since it reinforces the use of technologies where FrontPoint excels, and especially since the use of cameras (in this case) will probably result in two more burglars being removed from circulation. But remember, cameras are no substitute for a properly designed monitored alarm system – especially if the system is based on safer cellular monitoring. As the#1 ranked home alarm company in the US, it’s our duty to offer protection that is safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And as for the burglars in this story, we hope they have a long period of inactivity during which to consider their poor choice of target for this break-in.

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