Virtual block watch: Phoenix to begin testing program to share surveillance video with police

- There are millions of them across the valley, and the popularity of home surveillance systems continue to rise.

The Phoenix Police Department is looking into a program that could use these private cameras to help catch bad guys.

There is something chilling and maddening about watching someone steal someone else's stuff. These videos have exploded thanks to residential surveillance cameras and social media. The city is now trying to harness the power of all those neighborhoods with all of those cameras.

Just after 9:00 p.m. in a quiet Laveen neighborhood on Friday, two men broke the window of a work truck parked in the driveway and stole tools worth about $3,500.

"We are still trusting in people.. we are trusting we are in a good neighborhood," said Alma.  It was her husband's truck that was burglarized.

Alma didn't want to show her face on camera, but wanted to weigh in on a new program the city of Phoenix may launch. It's a virtual block watch.

"Excellent idea. It's the best idea I have heard about the crime because cameras are everywhere now and a lot of houses have them and sharing is really good," she said.

The program is 100 percent voluntary.

Homeowners who have surveillance cameras would register with the city. If there is a crime in the neighborhood, Phoenix police can check the database and ask nearby homeowners with cameras to check them during a certain time span, looking for more images that could help catch bad guys.

Alma's camera caught a good image, but neighbors' cameras might have captured more clues.

The family is insured and can replace the tools, but also worry about getting back peace of mind for their kids.

"Because now they don't feel safe. Last night we went to bed and we heard noise and they tried to hide.. no, don't worry, nothing's going to happen to you, but they feel unsafe right now," said Alma.

Phoenix police say they hope to roll out a pilot program of virtual blockwatch in the next several weeks.


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