KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 16, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
'Tis the season for thieves to crush holiday spirits. Crimes typically increase this time of year, but overall, the number of local crimes has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. As a result, many Katy families have upgraded their home security and are taking advice from local authorities.
A Katy Ring Doorbell camera caught a glimpse of a porch pirate earlier this year. Photo credit: Harris County Constable's Office, Precinct 5 Facebook page.
Crime Increases During Holidays, Pandemic
The Houston Police Department reports crime in the greater-Houston area has seen an increase of 29% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last March.
Katy has seen an increase in vehicle break-ins and porch pirates, as this time of year always has.
“We recommend security cameras and lighting for home security,” says Robert Henslee with Harris County Constable’s Office, Precinct 5. “High clarity video is preferable. A grainy video with no light doesn’t do much to help our investigators.”
Katy Families Add Ring, Nest, etc. to Home Security Plans
Many Katy families are use systems like Ring Doorbells or NEST cameras to watch over their front doors and other areas of their home.
“The newest Ring is the best for getting a before and after shot of the person, but I’ve learned from my parents’ house that having a flood light camera at another angle is well worth the expense,” says Dustin Raymond.
Raymond’s parents in Katy used their Ring camera to help investigators with a break-in that happened across the street from their home. Unfortunately, the victim’s car was blocking the view but it still shows how a camera can help others and not just the home where it is installed.
“I don’t have a Ring, but our neighborhood has been able to catch so much on the Ring from people breaking into a car to kids doing unsafe things to missing animals,” says Katy resident Jennifer Greenway. “I think it’s pretty cool and if I had the money, I would get one.”
“I’m using Google Nest IQ camera,” says Vishwanath Durbhakula. “I like the features of monitoring, alerting, and zoning.”
With the Nest, higher the resolution requires more bandwidth and needs to be loaded to the cloud. Durbhakula also says that face clarity at nighttime is still difficult.
Bradley Schneider’s family and his mother-in-law use the Ring system.
“They are pretty sensitive to movement,” says Schneider. “You can’t point it at the street unless you want a lot of ‘events.’ I turned off all the alerts on my phone, but I can easily pull up events throughout the day or a live view.”
Schneider says although the video quality is excellent, he encountered some issues with WIFI.
“The front door was on the cusp of our WIFI range (and the thick door blocked the signal sometimes). We had to get a WIFI extender and haven’t had an issue,” explains Schneider.
Precinct 5 has seen an increase in homeowners adding doorbell security devices.
“Fortunately, the cost of high-quality video cameras has dropped dramatically over the last couple years, which has helped with the popularity of Ring and other doorbell systems too,” says Henslee.
Such devices do not replace monitored home security but have been known to catch footage of thieves in the act.
Regardless of adding one of these systems, authorities remind residents to use common sense and listen to their advice about protecting their homes, as well as their vehicles.
Constable Ted Heap Shares Tips
“Be sure to lock your doors and fully close all windows too,” says Constable Ted Heap. “It is amazing how many reported car burglaries come from victims who did not lock their doors.”
“Move any valuables out of sight before you park your vehicle,” says Constable Heap. “These crooks aren’t just looking for expensive items. They will often simply take loose change, car chargers, sunglasses, or garage door openers.”
Other tips include:
Remove keys - Never leave your vehicle running while unattended. Don’t leave your keys in your vehicle or hide them in or around your car.
Lighting - Improve exterior lighting around your vehicle if you can’t park it in the garage.
Security - An outside video security system will also help protect your home. These security systems are becoming more affordable but be sure to get one that records high quality video.
Anti-theft Devices - Use anti-theft devices such as a steering wheel lock, electronic alarm, ignition kill-switch or a vehicle tracking device.
Protect Packages - Try to be home when packages are delivered or enlist a neighbor to look out for them. You can also have them delivered to your place of work.
“If you discover your car has been burglarized, call your local law enforcement agency before touching anything on or inside your vehicle,” instructs Constable Heap. The same applies to your home.
In many cases, the suspect leaves behind fingerprints, so it is important to preserve the scene in order to best assist authorities.