The Richmond Police Department has a new tool for nabbing package thieves, preventing break-ins and solving crimes.
The police have joined Neighbors, a free application developed by Ring, a provider of video doorbells and surveillance cameras — and they want Richmonders to join, too.
The app not only allows police to share information targeted directly to users in specific neighborhoods, but also allows users to send police anonymous tips and videos their doorbells or cameras have captured.
“As it’s said often, a picture is worth a thousand words,” Interim Chief William Smith said at a news conference Thursday announcing the partnership. “A video of an incident is worth a million.”
Police said the technology has already assisted them in identifying a man believed to be tied to package thefts all over the city.
In January, a home in the 3100 block of Parkwood Avenue equipped with a doorbell camera captured the man taking two packages. Police released the footage to the media and were able to identify the man, according to Third Precinct detective Eric Sandlin.
Without the video, “there is no way we could have been able to identify him,” Sandlin said.
Lt. Anthony Jackson, who oversees Sector 411 of North Richmond including neighborhoods like Brookland Park, Gilpin Court and Barton Heights, called the Neighbors application “a 24-hour community watch.”
Here is how it works: A crime is reported. Police can log in to the application and notify neighbors who live nearby about the crime. Those neighbors with cameras can opt to anonymously share the video captured during the window of time the crime was committed.
Smith said it’s important to know that police will not have access to the home cameras, only the footage that users choose to share with them.
Police hope that the application may help solve crimes other than package thefts by capturing footage of the street and the environment around the home where the camera is installed. But that requires users to sign up for the application and share the video with police.
The app is free and does not require buying a Ring device. For every 20 subscriptions to the application, the Richmond Police Department and Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers will give away a camera.
To join the Richmond Police Department on Neighbors, visit download.ring.com/richmond or text richmondpd to 555888 to download the app.