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Doorbell cameras giving peace of mind, helping fight crime

With the rising popularity of doorbell security systems with cameras, police officers say they're helping them identify suspects.

BANGOR, Maine — On Black Friday, you may want to prioritize safety for yourself and your loved ones. A relatively newer option has been growing in popularity the last couple of years: doorbell security systems with a camera. 

These devices connect to an app on smartphones that allows people to monitor their property and even receive notifications when motion is detected. 

Shannon Young, a Bangor resident, said she decided to buy a camera for her front and back door after she witnessed an attempted break-in at her home. She said the incident happened around 11 p.m. while she was sleeping on her couch. Her two dogs started barking and she heard someone fidgeting with her kitchen window. 

"Between the dogs barking and the light coming on... as soon as I got around the corner, I just saw a flash of them running away," Young said. 

Young said Bangor police officers responded immediately and suggested she get a doorbell security system for her home. 

The next day, she purchased two devices to cover her front and back doors. Young also advised her neighbors to do the same.

Bob Chandler lives across the street from Young. He said he's heard of a lot of vehicles being broken into at night, which is why he installed a camera on his back door that faces his cars. 

"It felt good having that one in the backyard so I can see the vehicles," Chandler said. 

Another neighbor on their street had actually had their car broken into. Their doorbell camera caught the thief in action. 

Sgt. Wade Betters of the Bangor Police Dept. said these camera images help provide officers with a better description of a suspect. Betters said they can also help keep your neighbors safe. 

"Oftentimes, they actually help us solve a crime or something similar to that next door," Sgt. Betters said. 

He said the cameras can sometimes catch people who are about to commit a crime or as they change their minds. 

"They might look and say, 'Oh, they have a camera. I guess I should move on to somebody that doesn't have a camera,'" Young said. 

Betters said the security cameras and lights can even help to deter criminals. 

"Some citizens will forward us video links to things their cameras caught, and you can see people approach a darkened doorway. When the security light pops on, some people just turn around and leave. Some people have approached a door and then they've read a sign indicating there's a camera there, and you can see them look at the camera, and then they just leave," Sgt. Betters said.

Betters said once more people have cameras on their property than those who don't, he thinks more people will start to think twice about daytime and nighttime thefts of property from people's homes.

"It really put my mind at ease because I get an alert if there's something going on," Young said.