Rockridge resident Peter Lund has had his car broken into twice in a one-month span, and knows of at least four neighbors on his block on 60th Street who have had their homes broken into in the past year. One neighbor, he said, had their front door kicked in and their place robbed at 1 in the afternoon.
Neighbors have talked about how to identify people or vehicles involved in burglaries, he said—maybe that involves setting up a video camera, either on his property or on one of the escape routes typically used by criminals fleeing the neighborhood. “The neighbors realize the police force is really stretched due to budget cuts,” Lund said. “We have to step up to supplement what our tax dollars aren’t going to cover.”
Lund was one of about 75 Rockridge residents who gathered at the Seneca Center on Thursday night for the monthly meeting of the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council. The main item on the agenda was a presentation from a representative from the electronics company Logitech on video cameras the company makes for residents who want to use on their property and in their neighborhood. There were more than 10,000 burglaries and 4,304 reported robberies in Oakland in 2011, Oakland Police Department officer Maureen Vergara told the group.
At the meeting, Alex Zaliauskas, a representative from Logitech, gave a presentation on security cameras his company sells that are designed for residents. The company sells high definition cameras that can be set up indoors or outdoors, and can be monitored on a computer or a mobile device. It costs about $300 for the start-up system, which includes one camera.
Zaliauskas has been meeting with neighborhood groups around the Bay Area, and sold about 100 cameras to Montclair residents after a meeting in October. Zaliauskas said that about 90 percent of these types of security cameras are sold to consumers like homeowners and 10 percent to businesses.
Residents at the meeting had a lot of questions for Zaliauskas regarding how the system works, like if the system works on a Mac computer (it’s currently available only for PCs) and whether there is a neighborhood discount if a group of people buy in (there is).
Chloe Atkins, who lives on Kales Avenue, asked about the civil liberties implications of taking video of a neighborhood, for example, filming people who are unaware their images are being captured on video. Atkins said her wife was mugged twice in the street in public, and she is interested in placing a camera on her property, but is worried about filming in a public place like College Avenue, where there a lot of foot traffic.
Zaliauskas said that question comes up a lot when he’s meeting with neighborhood groups, but stated that filming a public place is OK in most states as long as there is no audio recording without someone’s knowledge. The cameras Logitech sells do have an audio function, but it’s turned off by default, he said.
Vergara said the Rockridge neighborhood is a target for home break ins because it’s easy to get in and out of quickly, with multiple freeway entrances and a BART station.
Some neighbors asked about setting up cameras on streets that are typically used by criminals fleeing Rockridge. Vergara told the group that setting up cameras on telephone poles on these routes would be “fantastic.” Montclair residents have started to do that in their neighborhood, Officer Trent Thompson told the group Thursday night.
“There are definitely escape routes, and we’ve tried to hide along these escape routes and catch these things before or right after they happen, and it’s very difficult to do that,” Vergara said. “But cameras along these escape routes would be great.”
Lund said he would be especially interested in investing in the cameras if they could pick up license plate numbers, but was disappointed to find out that’s impossible. Still, he said, the Logitech presentation was “impressive.”
“We’d like cameras to record during certain day parts, and if there was a problem, we’d be able to go back, review footage and perhaps arm the police with some sort of lead of who may have been responsible,” he said.
For more information on the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council, go here.