Caught in the act: Doorbell video leads to more arrests

Local News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Home surveillance systems have come along way. They are now able to capture video of anyone or anything that comes onto your property.  

“I think it’s been emerging for about 5 years,” said Mary Claire Akers, Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor, “We’ve seen an up tick in home surveillance videos and have caught a lot of different crimes on them.”

We’ve seen home surveillance systems like Ring used for helping protect packages. But now, prosecutors are using them to help in convictions of much more serious crimes. 

Last April, home surveillance video was used by Kanawha County investigators in an animal cruelty case involving John Copening

“He was accused of hanging the dog. We had video from homeowners in the area of Mr. Copening with the dog and then a few minutes later without the dog,” said Akers. “That’s something your viewers may remember seeing because that’s when they were trying to identify him. That was a case when we found really great success with the home surveillance systems.”

“Another case involved Chrishawn and Christopher Perkins,” said Akers.

“They were home invasion robberies where the homeowner had a home surveillance system set up and the entire crime was caught on video,” Akers explained. 

To make sure that video can be used in court and to protect yourself even further, Akers suggests, “Where there could be a hairy issue is if words are caught on camera, but that’s a case by case thing. If you want to avoid that being an issue for you as a homeowner, you just throw up a sign or sticker that says this house is monitored by audio and video recording.”

“There is a protection provision in state law involving wiretapping,” explained Akers. “West Virginia is a one party consent state. So if you and I are sitting in a room and I want to secretly record you, I can even if you don’t know. But there are other states where you need everyone’s consent to record. That means I couldn’t drop a device to record while you are having a conversation with another person and neither of you know.”

Akers says the drug crisis plays a role in the up tick in property crimes. She is thankful to have another tool to help catch more criminals in the act. 

“We appreciate them (the videos) and appreciate people when they step forward and say ‘hey I have this on video’,” remarked Akers.

If you have any video that could help in an investigation, Akers urges you to contact your local law enforcement agency.

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