Saskatchewan

Gotcha: Homeowners installing cameras to catch thieves and vandals

Regina homeowners are installing cameras in hopes of catching thieves, trespassers and vandals red-handed.

Police say the videos are useful evidence but don't guarantee arrests

A doorbell camera on a home in east Regina caught a thief who tried to steal the camera itself but failed. Here he is walking away. (Submitted by Peter Sidney Hall)

Regina homeowners are installing cameras in hopes of catching thieves, trespassers and vandals red-handed. 

There's footage of people taking Christmas lights, bicycles and even a baby stroller from yards and doorsteps in multiple different neighbourhoods. 

Doug Pennington has seven motion cameras set up around his property in south Regina. 

The videos show up on his wife's phone and a monitor in their house. 

One night, he caught someone checking to see if the cars in his driveway were locked. 

Deirdre McKean and Doug Pennington have seven cameras set up around their home in Regina's south end. (CBC News/Alex Soloducha)

His daughter-in-law posted the video to a community Facebook page to warn people on their street.

The cameras start at $150 and are easy to find in Canada. The technology has improved, so the footage is pretty clear. 

"I feel much more secure," said Pennington. "It would be difficult for somebody to come on the property without altering the cameras and us having a record of them."

"Having a video of what has taken place puts you in a much better position to say, 'This is what took place and I can prove it.'" 

An alleged trespasser is seen checking the car doors in Pennington's driveway this month. (Submitted by Doug Pennington)

At-home surveillance cameras are gaining popularity and many homeowners post the footage to social media in hopes of identifying suspects. 

Elizabeth Popowich, Regina Police Service public information manager, said officers now canvass neighbours for video if crimes happen in residential neighbourhoods.

She said doorbell and home security videos are entered as evidence for investigations more frequently but don't guarantee an arrest. 

"People have to remember that even if we've got a great shot of someone entering your yard and taking something, it's a good quality picture of someone we don't know," said Popowich. "It doesn't come with a name tag and an address of the suspect."

Cody Maurer has handed over some videos to police for ongoing investigations in his area. 

Roch Dupont says thieves pillaged his yard for Christmas decorations and now he no longer wants to put them up. (Submitted by Roch Dupont)

It seems some people now think the cameras are a threat. One of his four cameras was ripped down in May. Another was destroyed in September. 

"I think more and more criminals are realizing they're being watched more and more often and they're trying to eliminate the evidence," said Maurer. 

This week a thief tried to steal a doorbell camera from a home in East Regina but was unsuccessful. His face was clear on camera and the homeowner told CBC he is sending the video to police. 

In the three years since Maurer has had video cameras on his garage, he has also caught someone taking his garbage can, a reckless driver crashing into his wife's parked car and a trespasser turning on the water hose in his backyard.

Cody Maurer has had two out of four surveillance cameras stolen. He said he is thinking about investing $3-4,000 in a new system. (CBC News/Alex Soloducha)

"If you wanted to be entertained by the cameras, you could do that all day every day," said Maurer. "We look when we know there's something worth looking at. 

"If something's gone missing or something's been moved that's when we actually go back to look at the footage and figure out what's happened." 

Maurer said the thefts of his cameras have not deterred him. He plans to invest in a video system with eight cameras that's lower profile and can't be tampered with.

About the Author

Alex Soloducha is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan.

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