Home Security Apps Bring Real-Time View of Break-Ins, Burglaries

Danny Wheeler witnessed men robbing his apartment using his phone.

September 17, 2015, 9:18 AM

— -- A New York City man used a home security app to witness two burglars rob his apartment in real-time -- but by the time police arrived, the men had escaped.

Danny Wheeler was at work Monday when the app, Canary, alerted him to the break-in. He watched footage of the burglars rummaging through his bedroom and kitchen.

Wheeler sent the video to New York City police.

"I called the police as soon as I got the alert,” Wheeler said. “By the time I got here, there were 30 police officers, two helicopters in the sky … the place was absolutely blanketed.”

Canary is one of a rapidly growing number of less-expensive security options, with the security systems selling in the $250 range. If an intruder breaks into a user’s home, an alert gets sent to their connected smartphone – and users can try to scare intruders away by triggering a loud alarm.

Robert Siciliano, a home security expert, said, "With security, as in life, you do get what you pay for. But these small systems definitely have their value and I would suggest anyone who’s interested in home security system, they do take a look at them, because they definitely offer a layer of protection."

Security experts caution that Canary and similar programs only cover small areas, aren’t monitored around the clock and won’t directly contact police, as compared to more expensive options. But the less expensive systems offer a layer of security, and some level of assurance for people such as Wheeler.

Wheeler is hopeful that the burglary suspects will be caught.

“Somebody is going to recognize [the suspects],” Wheeler said.

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