The streets of Oakland’s Rockridge and Montclair districts are lined with nice homes that tempt burglars. “We are a target-rich environment,” says Frank Castro, chair of the Greater Rockridge Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). “We have stuff burglars want.” In addition, both communities are near freeways, giving criminals easy escape routes. But the residents there are well aware that the Oakland Police Department is understaffed and likely to lose even more resources in this cash-strapped city. Property crimes are not its top priority. So the active Montclair and Rockridge crime-watch organizations have been working on ways to help the police do their job.
Montclair’s Safety and Improvement Council kicked it off last fall by researching a line of security cameras from Logitech. An outdoor model can take photos in the dark as well as in daylight from up to 100 feet. Over 100 Montclair residents ended up installing indoor or outdoor Logitech cameras, and they regularly use the footage to post photos of suspicious people on their property to their online group and include shots with their police reports after crimes have been committed.
The cameras helped put away one burglar who had hit multiple Montclair homes, according to Carolyn Winters, moderator of the Council’s online group. “We caught him with our cameras,” says Winters. “They actually got his plate number from one of our cameras.”
In Rockridge, the January 2012 meeting about Logitech security cameras was the best-attended in the two years Frank Castro has been chair of the NCPC, says Castro. “Already I’ve had 12 people tell me they want to buy the cameras,” he says. “[Rockridge is] also considering raising funds to put cameras near the freeway ramps. That way when an incident is reported, the police can look at the data from those cameras. They can see who left the neighborhood. They might get a vehicle description, or they might even get a plate number.”
“We want to send a message to the perpetrators,” says Winters of Montclair’s cameras. “You don’t know who has the cameras, but there are a lot of cameras out here.”
Peggy Nauts is San Francisco's copy chief.