Neighborhood Guard Footage leads to quick arrest

A neighborhood that is participating in Neighborhood Guard and is using our setup and software has sent me the following success story:

The group which is located in the Oakland Hills wishes to remain anonymous for now.

I have personally seen the footage that was submitted to the police and it clearly shows the 4 perpetrators as they leave their car to assault the front door of the house. Lucky the door held and the woman home alone was safe, her testimony was key in tying the individuals in the photos to the home invasion attempt.

Anthony Toribio, Captain of Police, Oakland Police Department
Writes to the reporting neighborhood:

One of the individuals has been arrested and there are warrants out for
the others.
The video in this case was key–best I have ever seen. Then, field officers were quickly able to identify the suspects. The suspect arrested yesterday fled from officers on two previous occasions. Yesterday, the crime response team from our area, spotted him and made the arrest without incident. I am sure the others will be caught soon.

We thank the OPD and Captain Toribio for the good work in apprehending these suspects.

Gated Vs. Ungated Communities, Which is Safer?

When a violent crime happens in one of our neighborhoods, the response is often, let’s get a gate plus a fence and turn our block into a gated community.

Studies on Crime Rate : Gated vs Ungated

When 1,400 Florida homes were compared over a 4-year period in 2005, gated and ungated communities had nearly identical rates of burglaries and car theft. Only minor crime like smash-and-grab theft and vandalism was lower in gated communities. [Reference]

When comparing property crime victimization in Gated vs Ungated communities in 2012 on a national level, Criminologist Nicholas Branic found no significant influence in crime rate from being in a gated community.[Reference]

Even worse: In South Africa you increase the risk of both day-time and night-time burglary if you live in a gated community. [Reference]

Why no advantage found in these studies?

The following hypotheses have been proposed:

  1. Studies compare homes of similar value not taking into consideration that gated communities typically are located in high-crime neighborhoods and are compared to un-gated communities in lower crime neighborhoods,
  2. People in gated communities feel safe and therefore leave their door unlocked, don’t have a Neighborhood Watch group etc.
  3. Everyone knows the code to the gate! Careless residents give their gate code to everyone, from Pizza deliveries to cheap handymen rendering the gate useless.

Would gating my existing community reduce my risk of crime?

YES!, If our neighborhood recently has experienced a lot of crime, then you likely already have a Neighborhood Watch group (or even Neighborhood Guard group) in place, and will remain vigilant for years to come. This mitigates hypothesis 2 and 3.

But what about hypothesis 1?

In February of 2013 a comprehensive study taking a myriad of variables into account was published in Justice Quarterly, which shows that gating will reduce risk of burglaries, how much reduction is unclear. [Reference]

Is gating my existing community worth it?

HOA fees for building and Maintaining Fence and Gate system will be costly. City will likely require you to take over maintenance of your streets. There is the cost of decreased emergency personnel response times (Police, Fire, Ambulance), No study has been made showing if gating will be worth it.

Other more cost-effective alternatives to gating are available including the DIY Community Camera solution from Neighborhood Guard.

Enrollment Form

Link to Neighborhood Guard Bylaws

Your enrollment will not be completed until your enrollment fee has been paid in full.

Is the 10 x more expensive Piedmont Cameras better?

City of Piedmont: 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611 | (510) 420-3040

The City of Piedmont, CA is sharing the same problems as the communities that has joined Neighborhood Guard: A high rate of burglaries and violent home invasions. Like the members of Neighborhood Guard they want to use modern Security Camera technology to aid solving crimes. But this is where the similarities end.

Tasked with getting a quote for a camera system the Piedmont Chief of Police came back with a  1.1 Million proposal, that does neither include Operations (power and Wireless fees) nor Installation. The proposal is for 57 cameras, which gives a per camera price of  $20,235 ! ($1,153,416 / 57 cameras).

Neighborhood Guard $2,200 per camera site
City of Piedmont      $20,235 per camera site

Why is Piedmont’s solution so more expensive than the Neighborhood Guard solution?

Is it the installation? No, while Neighborhood Guard is based on volunteer DIY installation, the Piedmont quote does NOT include installation which will be a considerable additional expense. Continue reading

Great Infographics on Break-ins.

In January the nice folks over at eLocal asked us here at Neighborhood Guard for feedback on a new idea they had for a burglary related infographics. Today we can proudly present the result of our collaboration (eLocal doing all of the work and deserving all the credit).

Read and Learn.

Breaking down Break-ins

eLocal’s infographics on Break-ins.
Click to see full version

Thank you Jaclyn Nicholson from

First crime solved using new security camera system

Today I got a great call from Oakland Police:
A photo of a car involved in a hit and run had been instrumental in solving the case.

The complete story:

About 3 weeks ago, a car parked on one of our streets was hit by a car.
After apologizing the driver took of without leaving the required
contact and insurance information. (This is a Hit and Run under California Vehicle
Code 20002(c) ) 2 of our neighbors who had witnessed the
episode, but had not been able to see the license of the hit and run driver.
They called the police, then they called me.

My wife and I were in Santa Cruz at the time, and they reached me on my
cell phone, The witness gave me an accurate description of the vehicle and
a 5 minute time window. After the build-in privacy delay had passed I was able
to remotely examine the pictures on our internet based server (in the
cloud) from Santa Cruz, and from the description pick a matching car that I sent via email to the witness. They confirmed that this was the car and showed the picture with a clearly visible license plate to the officer when he arrived at the scene.

Hit and Run driver fleeing the scene

Hit and Run driver fleeing the scene - Actual Criminal Caught on Camera - This photo solved the crime - Click to enlarge

By comparing the license plate with our list of trusted license plates I was able to determine that the car did not belong to a neighbor.

That same night I got the Police report number and I sent an
electronic high-resolution copy of the photo to my contacts at the
Oakland police.

This morning the investigating officer called me and said, that they
had located the driver using our photo of the vehicle and license
When confronted, the driver admitted to everything.

Police considers the case as solved, and tells me that the photo was the key piece of evidence. The victim is VERY happy with our neighborhood security camera solution.

In the 2 months since our system went officially online we have sent photos to
the police about 5 times, and now we have our 1st solved case. With 5:1 odds, we could not be happier.


Visit By Captain Israel

Oakland PD Captain Jeffrey Israel comes by

Saturday was a big day for our neighborhood group, Captain Israel had seen our photos submitted as evidence to the Police and wanted to come by and see the system for himself.

He was greeted by the Chairperson of our neighborhood group and myself.

Captain Israel arrives, click to enlarge, you can even read the "CA EXEMPT" on the License plate.

Captain Israel arrives, click to enlarge, you can even read the "CA EXEMPT" on the License plate.

The first order of business was to show him our recording of him entering our neighborhood.

The Camera had been well hidden and he had not seen it.

The license plate was readable in all the photos.

We did a short demonstration of our system and discussed when it was prudent to call the police. Answer: Every time.

 Advice from Captain Israel

1) If someone knocks on your door at 3:00 am in the morning, call the police immediately, that is a time with low call volume, and typically the police will be able to respond right away.

2) If the Alarm goes of in the middle of the night and the burglars flee, call it in immediately, it is an attempted Burglary and needs to be logged in their database so that the police can determine criminal patterns.

3) For both incidents it is a great help for the police if the neighborhood surveillance photos can be tied to a police report number, so again make sure you report it every time.

Make sure your Camera are lit and visible at night.

Make sure your Camera are lit and visible at night.

4) When placing real or decoy cameras on the outside on your property, place it where it is lit at night, so that the criminals can clearly see the camera also at night.

5) Make sure your internal list of trusted license plates is up-to-date so that you don’t report a neighbor to the police.

Helping others

Captain Israel asked us to share our know-how with other neighborhood groups, and introduced us to another group which is about to start a neighborhood Camera Project. Naturally we agreed to help on the spot.

Last was the obligatory Photo Opportunity

Captain of Police Jeffrey Israel  and Jesper Jurcenoks

Captain of Police Jeffrey Israel and Jesper Jurcenoks

Burglar shoots at witness

Oakland Police is asking citizens and neighbors to review their video footage in relation to a burglary that escalated into a shooting, morning Friday April 27, 2012 at 10:00 am.

3 young men in a Black Chevy Trailblazer burglarized a house on Thornhill drive between Armour Drive and Snake Rd.

The occupant left the house shortly before 10:00 am and burglars entered the house around 10:00 am leading to speculation that the burglars had had the house under observation waiting for the occupants to leave.

During the quick burglary an Ipod, Ipad, and jewelry was taken.

Contractors working nearby observed the burglary shortly after 10:00 and called the Police. As the burglars were leaving they saw the witnesses and shot at them, hitting their car. Police records the shot a fired at 10:17 am. The Oakland Police responded with 3 units.

The Police is looking for License plates and images of the vehicle and occupants, from anyone with a camera pointed at Snake Rd. (Unfortunately our cameras are not pointed at Snake Rd.).

Police reports that the vehicle description matches descriptions from other burglaries in the area.

Here is the sparse news coverage:

Video of Burglar leads to arrest

A couple of days ago there was a burglary attempt at a neighbor – The incident was caught on a Security Surveillance Video.  The Video shows 3 young men approaching a house, then running away from the house once the alarm is triggered and speeding off in a ordinary looking silver sedan.

Suspects fleeing attempted burglary after triggering Alarm

3 days later I got this email from the Captain of the Police in Oakland.

OPD is happy to inform you that the suspect in the burglary video (and responsible for numerous break ins and attempted break ins in the hills) is in custody. I will release more information when I can and doing so does not compromise the investigation.  I sincerely appreciate all of the fantastic assistance from the community on this crime series. There is no doubt that without community support these crimes may not have been solved yet.


Jeffrey Israel

Captain of Police

Oakland Police Department

It once again show that having Video evidence moves the crime to the top of the solveability list.

Thank you Oakland Police and thank you video surveillance.

Man walking dog shot in Oakland hills last night.

A man was shot last night @ 10:30 while walking his dog on Elverton (1st road north of Snake road) in a part of Oakland hills far from the high crime areas of Oakland.

He had just returned to his front yard when his dog started barking, and he saw two young men approach in hoodies. They said, “hold it there”, then threatened with a gun, when the victim turned and ran to his house he was shot.

The shot penetrated his arm and broke the bone, which is lucky, considering that the perpetrators was probably not aiming for his arm.

Police response time for 1 of the 3 responding officers has initially been given as 20 minutes by a neighbor to the shooting. (I am trying to establish how long it took for the first Officer to arrive)

The Elverton neighborhood has a video surveillance group, they are currently assembling their footage.

When a violent crime happened in our neighborhood last year we decided as a group that:

Never Again, will a violent criminal enter or leave our neighborhood undetected.

This Blog is to show that it is possible to put up resistance when criminals terrorize your neighborhood, as long as people come together and stand united.

=================== UPDATE APRIL 18, 2012 =========================

Oakland PD’s Captain Israel has sent me the following timeline of the police response, showing a quick and appropriate response from Oakland Police:

10:35 pm              crime happens
10:39 pm              victim calls OPD Dispatch
10:40 pm              three officers (lights and siren response) and paramedics are assigned to the call – victim is met and provided emergency medical treatment for his wound at the scene
11:05 pm              another officer is assigned to meet the victim at the hospital per the field supervisor (victim was transported via ambulance).

I had a good talk today with the Investigating officer. He told me that based on the facts, the  case is treated as a an assault with a firearm as defined in California’s Penal code section 245, and not as a Robbery under section 213.

The Elverton neighborhood watch video group did capture the vehicle of the shooters. But unfortunately only on an older analog system that could not provide a clear night image of the vehicle’s license plate. Please subscribe to this blog via the front page to learn how our group managed to capture license plates in the darkest part of the night.

Another video system in a different part of town did catch an image of a suspect but the image was lost due to a 3 day video retention policy, and the investigating officer didn’t learn about the recording until the fourth day. This just goes to show the importance of a long image retention policy.

=================== UPDATE APRIL 28, 2012 =========================

The first officer at the scene arrived 10:56 PM -17 minutes after the 911 call.

With the current Police staffing situation in Oakland, we cannot expect the police to arrive in time to catch the Criminals, we need to have a system that can clearly identify perpetrators, day and night.