CYBER SAFE: Mobile Neighborhoods Doing High-Tech Crime Solving

MOBILE, AL (WKRG) — A neighborhood in West Mobile is arming themselves against a recent rise in burglaries, but not in the way you think.

They’re using technology.

Matthew Miller, a West Mobile homeowner, is part of an online crime solving group on Facebook, where neighbors are using video evidence from their home surveillance systems to map out the uptick in burglaries.

“We’ve never had crime on this level, this organized before,” said Miller.

Miller and his neighbors are in a closed Facebook group that regularly exchanges pictures, videos, timestamps and specific locations to identify suspects, and often times, solve the crime before Mobile Police does.  The evidence they gather and evaluate is presented to investigators, who say they’ve never seen so much evidence come to them digitally.

“The devices that capture that good evidence is becoming more and more prolific across the nation,” said Commander Kevin Levy of Mobile Cyber Intelligence.

In recent years, home surveillance systems have become far more advanced.  They use a home’s WiFi connection to stream and store high-definition camera feeds to the cloud for viewing on your smartphone.  Even smart doorbells feature HD cameras that not only give you a live feed of your doorstep, but will alert you whenever movement is detected.

It’s making it easier than ever for property owners like Miller to keep a lookout over their home.

“You get a good picture, and you go to social media, and start sharing it,” said Miller. It’s hard to identify someone that you don’t know, that you’ve never seen before. But when other people start sharing those photos, other people start saying ‘hey, I may know this person.”

Everyday citizens becoming detectives isn’t a concern for Mobile Police.  In fact, they consider it a bonus.

“[Mobile Police has] seen an increase in an ordinary citizen doing remarkable things because they capture that one instant,” said Levy. “So virtual neighborhood crime watches are actually a thing of the future and its not something happening tomorrow. It’s happening today.”

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