Burglary Victims Catch Thieves With Home Surveillance Cameras

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It was an old-fashioned, uneasy feeling she received one day while at work that caused her to log on to see what was doing in her house.

"I was sitting at the office and I had this feeling something was wrong. So I logged on and when I logged on there was this man standing in my living room," she said.

Thomas had stumbled upon a robbery in progress in her own home. She phoned 911 and narrated what she was seeing. She now remembers, "It was just surreal. They had no idea I was watching, but I was!"

The police swooped in and arrested two men without incident. Thomas is sure they are the same guys who hit her the first time.

"I felt like they came back to get things they had left behind the first time."

She now has one bit of advice for would-be criminals: "When you think that nobody's watching, there could be somebody else watching."

As for the husband that doubted Jeanne Thomas's plan to buy the webcam for the house? They are now divorced.

"He's changed his mind now. He thought that was probably one of the smartest things I did," Thomas said.

Other Sensible Advice for Home Surveillance

James Lopez is the general manager for Logitech's digital video security business unit. He says Thomas' and Centiner's desire to see what was happening in their home while they are at work is what is driving adoption.

"Consumers are thinking what's going to give me peace of mind when I am away. That's why video security technology is becoming more prevalent," Lopez said. "Most customers are driven to technology by crime events. The type of crime and the proximity to that person is what determines the urgency and what solution they buy. We suggest you don't wait for the event to happen. Get that peace of mind before you need it."

Lopez suggests consumers use common sense when leaving home to avoid intruders. Don't post online that you are leaving town, don't allow mail to pile up, and post security signage to prevent criminals that are looking for opportunities. But if someone does break in there is nothing like video to help solve the crime.

"An alarm can tell you that something happened, but video can tell you exactly what happened. A consumer can get an instant snap shot of what is happening at that very moment," he said. "People are trying to connect the dots and use technology to connect their home to them while they are on the go. Video never lies. It tells a story in a very real way. It can give them that look inside, on their cell phone or other devices when they are not at home."

The idea is to deter, detect and identify:

Deter: Put up signage that cameras are monitoring activity. Make cameras visible, but put them high up or behind a window and conceal wiring so they are not easily accessible to disconnect.

Detect: Think about multiple cameras in different entry points. Protect cameras from moisture and look for a good line of sight (clear of trees and bushes).The more information you have the more armed you are. Motion detection can quickly alert you to a possible problem.

Identify: Get the highest resolution and frame rate you can afford. Quality is important. The technology now can capture very clear pictures, but some lower quality cameras will produce blurry images. Don't point the cameras directly at light but have good lighting around and consider infrared for night vision. Host a camera at head level to catch an intruder's face and consider a bird's-eye view to document the full scene.

When it comes to video security, the price you pay will depend on the level of peace of mind you require. A simple IP camera that sends you a quick look in can be had for less than $100, while multiple analog cameras that record to a central DVR cost less than $500. High-end systems will include a deluxe digital day/night remotely accessible recorded feed.

Logitech's consumer friendly "Alert" security system comes with the required configuration software, uses your existing power outlets, and is easy to expand with additional cameras. Each camera has built-in storage and can be accessed from the Internet or a smart phone with a password, so you don't need to leave your computer on all day.

The indoor system can be had for $270 and the outdoor system for $310. Additional cameras start at $229.

Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 11: 35 p.m. ET/PT

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