Burglary Victims Catch Thieves With Home Surveillance Cameras

PHOTO: Levent Cetiner was working in his office in Chelsea when his motion-activated home camera began emailing him pictures of a thief in his apartment. He called the police immediately, ran home, and began banging on the door. The police arrived and arr
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Discovering a thief broke into your home while you were off at work is sure to set off a range of emotions: Shock, fear, sadness over your irreplaceable property.

Jeanne Thomas, a Boynton Beach, Fla., resident experienced all of that.

"It's just total violation," she said. "It's like, how could somebody do this?"

Her jewelry, valuable coin collection, video equipment and even her little boy's baby videos were stolen while Thomas was at work and her house was unguarded, save a menagerie of rabbits, birds, a cat and two dogs.

Sgt. Steve Wessendorf of the Boynton Beach, Fla., Police Department explains it's nothing personal for the bad guys.

"Burglaries are a crime of opportunity for the most part," he said. "I can sit and watch your house, and know that you go to work every single day at 9 o'clock and you are gone from 9 to 5."

It may take a day or two, but eventually some burglary victims can expect to have a desire for payback. You will want the person who stole your stuff to be caught and, thanks to inexpensive, simple-to-use high tech gadgets, an image of the creep may be just what you desire.

Sgt. Wessendorf spells out a sobering truth: "Unless we catch them in the act they get away with it."

Caught in the Act

Levent Centiner is a system administrator at New York's School of Visual Arts. He noticed a sign in his apartment building warning of a recent burglary attempt, so he looked for a high-tech solution.

He purchased a $50 Trendnet wireless, infrared camera with motion detection. He powered it up, configured it for his wifi network and instructed it to send him a photo if it detected any motion in his apartment when he was out.

Shortly before last Christmas, 2011, Centiner was sitting in his office desk three blocks from home when his set-up fired off its first images to his email inbox.

"Six images of a guy coming in from my window. From what I saw it looked like he was sitting on my couch," remembered Centiner. "It's like watching a reality show but it's directly affecting you."

The tech wiz phoned 911 and the crook was caught. He now advocates everyone get a camera for their home.

"I'm behind the idea that people should try on their own. It's technology and it's a part of our lives so we should know how to do these things."

But not everyone likes the idea of having a camera in their home. Whether it's the fear of big brother or a Luddite's romanticized memory of simpler times, you may find resistance to installing a system.

Back in Florida, Jeanne Thomas found such resistance right at home.

"My husband thought it was the stupidest idea in the world. He said, 'This is a total waste of money. Why are you doing this?' I said, 'You know what? This is my money. Let me purchase this.'"

Thomas bought an off-the-shelf system from Logitech for $250. She says it was a snap to set up with no wires or confusing configurations. Because of the animals in her home she didn't activate the motion detection, but her home computer was constantly recording the video and, whenever the urge hit her, she could log on from work and see a live feed on her laptop.

"I want to know what's happening in this house when I'm not here. So I bought the video surveillance system."

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