Keeping an eye on crime
On New Year’s Eve, an unwelcome visitor entered Scharlene and Doug Ringer’s Etiwan Park dwelling on Daniel Island. Wearing what the couple believes was a ghillie suit, the offender was only seen by Scharlene and was not identified. At first, she believed it was her husband attempting to playfully scare her, but after discussing the incident with Doug, the two realized that their house had been illegally entered and burglarized.
The perpetrator invaded and exited the house through the back door with a designer fanny pack, bracelet, and cash. Scharlene said the bag was recovered, minus the cash, on Proprietor’s Lane, roughly three blocks from her house.
“It was so dangerous for that person to walk into my house,” Scharlene said about the incident. “I feel sorry for that person, whoever did it, because they just weren’t thinking.”
“This is a felony. To break into someone’s home and burglarize it is worse than burglarizing something outside and I don’t know if they realize the seriousness of what they did,” she added. Incidents like this aren’t frequent occurrences on Daniel Island, but in many situations, security camera footage is a common way to find clues for investigators.
In fact, it’s such a useful tool that the City of Charleston Police Department recently announced a program that allows residents to register their exterior security cameras with the law enforcement agency. The registration program is considered a modern update to classic neighborhood watches. Residents can voluntarily register their exterior-facing home security camera with the city, so CPD can potentially use video footage from the device in investigations.
“This is an opportunity to use 21st century technology to build upon the traditional neighborhood crime watch programs,” stated Police Chief Luther Reynolds, in a press release about the program.
Camera owners will only be contacted for assistance if investigators believe useful footage can be obtained from their device.
“It’s important to note that access to these cameras is being given voluntarily by citizens who want to take a greater role in helping to defend their neighborhoods and businesses against those who would try to victimize others,” said Charleston Police Department Lieutenant James Byrne of Daniel Island-based Team 5. “Such a program is just one more manifestation of the strong relationship between the Charleston Police Department and the community we’re proud to serve.”
While there were private security cameras on the houses surrounding the Ringers’ residence, there were none in their home, and Scharlene doubted their relevance to her case.
“As far as having the cameras goes, I don’t know,” she said. “Unless they actually can help with identifying people.”
Regardless, she does believe that the registration program would benefit the police in other investigations.
“I think the registration of your security cameras is a great idea because then at least police don’t have to go door to door and say ‘do you have a camera,?’” Scharlene stated.
Daniel Island resident Jillian Easterlin said that she plans to register her doorbell camera with the Charleston Police Department.
“We added the cameras after a car was broken into in our driveway,” she commented. “Since then, we have not had anything suspicious. That being said, I do believe they would capture anything of concern as they have captured everyone who has walked to the door as well as cars passing by in the street.”
Because there’s not a readily accessible database for home security cameras, The Daniel Island News conducted a survey to gauge how many residents used the systems in their private houses. Close to 50 readers participated, making the results limited, but that data could serve as a good sampling of the area.
Approximately 60 percent of respondents reported that they do utilize security camera systems in their homes. Almost all survey participants who have security camera systems said that they live in Daniel Island neighborhoods. One hundred percent of respondents who own security cameras said that the systems have increased their sense of security.
Thanks to the convenience of modern technology, many people opt to buy their security systems over the internet. Among Daniel Island residents surveyed, Ring, Arlo, Nest, and Sonitrol were some of the most popular brands. According to tech publication PC Magazine, prices on some of the best 2019 systems range from $19.99 to over $400.
Approximately 80 percent of those who indicated in The Daniel Island News survey that they utilize security cameras plan to register them with Charleston Police Department.
“As the Security Camera Registration Program is still in its infancy, it’s too early to say what effect it will have specifically on Team 5,” Byrne stated. “However, I expect that we will see some very positive results as the program matures and is put to use to help resolve criminal investigations across the city.”
The CPD security camera registration process is voluntary and takes only a few minutes to complete. To register, visit the Police Department’s page on the City of Charleston website at https://gis.charleston-sc.gov/register-security-cameras/.
BEST SECURITY CAMERAS OF 2019
PC Magazine has dubbed the following systems as “the best home security cameras” of 2019:
Netgear Arlo Pro 2 ($479.99)
Wyze Cam Pan ($29.99)
D-Link Full HD Wi-Fi Camera DCS 8300 LH ($89.99)
iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro ($199.99)
Tend Secure Lynx Indoor ($59.99)
Wyze Cam V2 ($19.99)
Nest Cam IQ ($299.00)
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor ($349.00)
Netgear Arlo Go ($429.99)
Ring Spotlight Cam Battery ($199.00)
The Daniel Island News asked readers to take part in a survey about home security camera systems. A total of 48 people responded. More than half of those who took part in the survey reported that they do utilize cameras on their properties. One hundred percent of those respondents indicated they felt safer with the systems in place.
Do you currently utilize a security camera system at your residence?
56.25% of respondents – YES
43.75% of respondents -- NO
Do you plan to register your cameras with the City of Charleston Police Department?
84% of respondents – YES
16% of respondents -- NO