Police in Decatur are investigating after “doorbell camera” devices were ripped off the front of several homes in one neighborhood.
The Ring devices can take and store video of a home’s doorways in real time, and sometimes capture crimes such as package thefts and break-ins. But in at least three recent Decatur cases, the cameras were the subject of the crime, and took video of the moments up until they were stolen.
Police believe the same person pried cameras off at least two Oakhurst homes on June 18 and July 19. It’s not clear if the thief wanted the cameras themselves, or if the thefts could be precursors for other crimes, Decatur police spokeswoman Lt. Jennifer Ross said.
In the June 18 incident, a resident on Fourth Avenue was woken up at about 5:15 a.m. by a sound on his porch. He checked his Ring system and saw a person walk up and rip the device out, Ross said.
The next morning, he found that his car had been stolen from the street. DeKalb County police found it abandoned about 10 days later.
Last Friday night, a resident of East Pharr Road reported a similar theft. About 11:20 p.m., he got an alert on his Ring doorbell system, “and upon reviewing the video footage observed a hand reaching towards his camera,” Ross said.
The Ring camera at the home across the street, which might have captured the incident, was also stolen, Ross said. Decatur police are unable to investigate that specific case because it is the city of Atlanta’s jurisdiction.
Two days later, on Sunday about 11 a.m., a South McDonough Street resident reported her camera was missing as well. The last recording, taken Friday night, shows a man in a hoodie use a tool to pry the camera away.
Investigators believe he is the same person who stole the Ring camera on Fourth Avenue, Ross said.
MORE DEKALB NEWS:
Anyone who recognizes him or has more information about the incidents is asked to contact Investigator Robert Lindsey at email@example.com or 678-553-6628, or remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (8477).
Ross said police do not know whether the camera thefts are setting the stage for further crimes, “but we are not ruling that out.”
Decatur is not one of the police departments that has a formal relationship with Ring, where officers and investigators have access to the footage users upload to Ring’s app. Dunwoody, Brookhaven and DeKalb County police are already partners with Ring, and Ross said Decatur is “looking into it.”
“We regularly receive Ring footage, as well as from other home surveillance camera brands, from members of our community,” she said.
In a statement Tuesday, Ring said the devices have tamper-proof screws that make the cameras “very difficult to remove without the proper tools. If a thief does manage to remove your Ring device, Ring has a Theft Protection policy in place.”
Users can get a free replacement if they send a police report about the crime to firstname.lastname@example.org within 15 days.
In other news: