Lords of the RING

Video Doorbells are Sweeping Coral Gables, Where They Serve as Anti-Crime Eyes and Ears

“Watch these scumbags as they’re stealing the bikes from the side of this house…”

“3:00 AM. Thief crawls around in the backyard, looking for way to enter through the sliding glass doors.”

These are actual posts on the RING Neighbors app, incidents caught on camera by RING video doorbells in use across the Gables. Homeowners who have RING, or similar audio/video doorbell systems, use the app (and another like it called Neighbor’s Digest) to chronicle suspicious behavior – or downright criminal activity – in the neighborhood. That information is shared both with people who live nearby and the Coral Gables police department.

The RING video system has two-way talk and motion-activated notifications. You can set it for alerts on your phone when someone comes close to your house, even if they don’t ring the bell. You can also set a distance perimeter so the video captures anything happening nearby. A delivery truck ran over your expensive landscaping? If your camera is set at the right angle and distance, you can capture the name of the business on the offending truck (and beware stealthy dog poop droppers!).

“Blonde woman, aged 50-60, weighs 180 lbs… watch as she steals my neighbors’ Sunbrella cushions and candles from patio.” According to Neighbor’s Digest, where that post appeared, 3,488 other people also watched the woman porch pirating. Among them, Coral Gables Police.

Video Doorbells
The round door peephole is now extinct, as the latest video doorbells enable the user to see or record those who steal or damage property

A Partnership Against Crime

Gables police have adapted quickly to the proliferation of RING and other audio/video doorbells, says CGPD Public Information Officer Kelly Denham; as many as 7,000 are now installed in the Gables. “When there is a crime committed in our jurisdiction, it is the responding officer’s responsibility to inquire if there is any type of video available from the victim. We also canvass the neighborhood to see if any other camera systems picked up on the crime,” she says. The video is then turned over to a detective, who will run down the case based on any identifying information in the video, which is also shared with other police departments. The detective might even run the video via social media to get help from the public.

Video Doorbells

Even without police intervention, a video/audio doorbell can be highly effective. In my case, I was able to get a refund from Amazon, which insisted that a package had been delivered. My video log proved otherwise.

Or take Linda Martinez’s story. It was 4:30 in the morning, and she was asleep and alone in her Granada Avenue home, when her doorbell rang. A guy who said he was her Uber driver demanded she open the door. Linda was confused and frightened; her husband was out of town. Fortunately, the RING alert also went to her husband’s phone, and he responded as though he were right there, next to Linda in bed. The would-be intruder had no way of knowing that Linda was home alone and departed. 

RING doorbells cost as little as $99 and attach to the outside wall of your home, connecting via WiFi. Their only downside, says Gables computer technician Bryan Allen, is that your WiFi network may need a booster to penetrate a thick front wall. But once installed, a video audio doorbell system can help you secure your property and give you some peace of mind. It can also provide you with hours of voyeuristic entertainment.

Gotta go now. Watching a heavyset blonde woman steals porch cushions.