More people are turning to home video surveillance cameras to keep an eye on their homes when they’re away as advances in technology have made the systems extremely user-friendly and made them more affordable.
A camera system Jim Beeler had installed cameras at his children’s home in Clifton Heights caught a vandal in action last July. “It was pretty humorous. You watched him and as he was picked up on each camera trying to sneak through. You just saw how stealth he thought he was and how ridiculous, I mean the cameras are right there with these red lenses looking at you, glowing in the middle of the night, and he completely missed it,” Jim Beeler said.
The family can laugh now at the absurdity of the college-age man hurling a rock at a window covered in Plexiglas not once – but twice. Each time the rock bounced off the window and nearly hit him. But, when Britney Beeler came home late that night and found a window shattered she was frantic and called her father immediately. "I was able to jump on her system remotely and see that the guy had thrown a rock through the window and then ran off. So we knew nobody was in the house at the time,” Beeler said.
Once Britney Beeler called police, she was able to tell them no one was inside. The system cost Jim Beeler about $400.00 online. He also has a system of eight cameras monitoring his own home. A DVR in the basement records what the cameras see. And, by downloading an app, Beeler and his children can monitor what the cameras are seeing from his smartphone and tablet in real time. "From here you can change your view to any of the different cameras you want. All the cameras you want will be down here and it maximizes any that you touch," Beeler said as he demonstrated how the system works on his tablet.
Beeler owns Network Signals. He can install the systems for business and home clients. Another homeowner in Green Township installed a similar camera system and caught a man whom her husband had sold a motorcycle to days earlier – trying to get in her back door by firing a gun at the door knob. That homeowner ordered the system online for nearly $200.00.
Local 12 News found camera systems online ranging in price from$140.00 to nearly $6,000. Security companies have also seen an increase in the number of homeowners requesting quotes on camera systems. Mr. Lock in Mt. Washington can install a system for around $800. The company does not charge a monthly maintenance fee as others do. "It's really cool. A lot of people tell us they'll be out with their friends and they’ll say ‘hey look at this’ and they'll show their friends what they have on their phone,” said Kim Sohngen, co-owner of Mr. Lock.
Law enforcement officials like the ideas of the home camera systems. "I think if you can afford it, I think it's a good security measure to safeguard your home,” said Capt. Mike Dressell of the Indian Hill Rangers.
Dressell said his detectives used video from a home system to help solve a case in 2010. But, Dressell warns the cameras aren’t foolproof. "It's a nice addition. But don't think now that I've got a camera system, I don't really have to lock my front door. I don't have to use my deadbolts, I don't have to bring in my paper in or have somebody watch my house when I'm out for a couple of days. Do it all together, it's great. Rely on just the camera - I wouldn't do that,” Dressell said.
For Jim Beeler’s family the cameras are a must-have. And, the system came through when his family needed it most. "It was piece of mind for her, it made me a lot more relieved and it actually helped the police too because they knew there was nobody inside they had to worry about,” Beeler said.
Beeler has included some helpful hints for anyone who may want to install a camera system themselves:
*When installing a system, be mindful of where you are drilling if installing a system that is not wireless. Drilling holes for the wires can be the most difficult part. Be careful about drilling into electrical lines
*Make sure the cameras overlap so you don’t miss an image if a perpetrator sees it and blocks the camera’s view. By overlapping cameras, you have a better chance of capturing a usable image
*The higher the resolution of the camera the better the picture quality will be when trying to get an image
*Cameras equipped with infrared lenses will capture images at night. The more infrared lenses the better the night vision will be.