Video door bells are becoming more common, allowing homeowners to see who is at their door without having to look through the peephole.
These cameras, as well as other home surveillance, can capture some situations that may be important in an investigation. Police are warning homeowners to be cautious about sharing the surveillance video publicly.
Last week, a mystery woman was seen on camera ringing doorbells in a Texas neighborhood. The video was widely spread in hopes someone could identify the woman, who appeared to be distressed. It’s a type of situation police hope homeowners will first share the video with authorities before posting it on social media.
"What you posted on social media, that may well tell a thief, ‘Stay out of this neighborhood. I'm going to move on to another one,’” says Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University Law School. “That could thwart an investigation."
Another reason? You could be wrong.
"There's always that concern that might you be identifying someone who, in fact, has nothing to do with criminal activity," Henning says.
And if the people in the video are in fact criminals, you could be putting yourself in danger by identifying yourself through posting on social media; It could make you a target for further attacks.
"If this were to be a dangerous criminal, someone who is prone to violence, it is better not to have ordinary individuals going out and dealing with them that could be disastrous," explains Henning.
One of the most important reasons to share with police, before you go public, is they might have other information.
"The police are going to be aware of packages being taken from two blocks away that I may never have heard of," says Henning.
Either way, Henning encourages people to think before they act, post or share.
Being cautious can help you solve your case faster and with more effective outcome.