How a Camera System Can Help Solve Crime

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{Our Flock Safety Review}

At preschool drop-off, the director meets us at the door and asks if everything is alright — she saw a camera in our front yard and feared we’d been subjected to a crime.

We explained that we partnered with Flock Safety for the blog, which is a camera system designed to solve crimes. Thankfully, we weren’t victims of any crimes and are just doing a Flock Safety review!

This camera actually reads license plates — day and night, up to 75 ft away and vehicles driving up to 55 mph. Because we live in a residential neighborhood, cars are typically going around 25 mph.

You can sort the images by license plate, build of vehicle (car, truck, bus, motorcycle), color, and by whether or not they’re residents (you can add a list of neighbors and their license plates to your “Safelist”). Footage is stored in the cloud, so you can securely access the cameras from any laptop or phone.

I searched for buses and found lots of school buses! It even tells us how many times that particular license plate has been seen.

The nice thing about Flock Safety is that you’re not having to sort through 24 hours worth of surveillance — instead, it captures images! And because it reads license plates, Flock Safety turns 100s of hours of footage into the key images needed to make an arrest.

That’s cool, but what happens if the perpetrator is on foot instead?

No worries here, either! It catches people and animals! It was pretty entertaining looking through the footage to see my kids on their way to school! Let’s imagine a real life scenario.

Before my oldest child got a cell phone, she went missing for about an hour. I was expecting her at my house, but she never showed. I called her dad, who lives a few blocks away, to see if she went over to his house instead. Cue the panic when he hadn’t seen her either.

I hopped in my car to look for her around town, and her dad went up to the school to speak to the drama teacher. The drama teacher said she had left practice an hour ago. We thought we’d do one more circle around our tiny town before calling the cops.

We found her on the other side of the school. She was trying to get back into the school because she had forgotten her backpack and had important project work to bring home.

If we had the cameras installed at that time, we would’ve seen her come home without her backpack, and leave shortly after that. I didn’t see her come home as I was in the basement working in my home office at the time.

What if the power goes out?

Flock Safety uses both solar and battery for power, and cellular (LTE) for data communications. This is great news if there’s a power outage (like the one we had just last week in our entire town!), and also keeps costs down as traditional infrastructure can be really expensive.

How do we involve police if a crime has been committed?

Let’s pretend that your neighbor across the street had their garage broken into last night, and had a custom $3,000 bike stolen. You’ll sign into your web portal, and input the day and time frame when the crime occured.
If your neighborhood has opted into the SafeList feature, each image will even be marked as resident or non-resident.
You then share with law enforcement so they can investigate using one of the options below: 
– Download that footage and email it directly to the police officer
– Print out the footage and share it physically
– You can let your account manager know that you would like to give the police access directly to the Flock system for a defined period of time.
Armed with the footage provided by Flock, the police can now continue their investigation with actionable evidence.

In our area, we have Cedar Valley Crimestoppers, where surveillance images just like this can get posted when a crime has happened. The community bands together to help solve these crimes with the help of law enforcement.

How can Flock Safety help missing children?

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: their child goes missing. According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 424,066 National Crime Information Center entries for missing children.

The mom of a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, we’ve been made even more aware of the dangers of having an impulsive special needs son. What if he gets into a stranger’s vehicle? Or unlocks the front door and takes off?

Iowa has made international news in the last few years with missing persons:

  • Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, went missing after jogging one night. A surveillance camera (not known whether or not it was a Flock Safety camera) picked up a vehicle. Police were able to locate the driver of the vehicle, who then led them to Mollie’s body where he stashed it in a corn field.
  • 16-year-old Jake Wilson, who had autism, went missing after going for a walk near the creek one night. His body was later found just a mile from where he was last seen — no foul play was suspected.
  • In 2012, 8 year old Elizabeth Collins and her cousin, 10 year old Lyric Cook, went for a bike ride when they went missing. I was personally part of the search crew — combing through corn fields, ditches, bodies of water to find these girls. Their bodies were found months later by hunters. They were 25 miles from where they went missing — just ten miles from where I’m at.
  • This one, hitting a little more close to home: 13 year old Corey Brown got into a fight with his parents one evening and slipped out of the house after they had gone to bed. It wasn’t discovered until morning that he left. He had fallen to his death after climbing the water tower and it took them awhile to find his body. I met him many times throughout the years — his aunt was one of my bridesmaids.

With security cameras, we can help police piece together vital information whether or not a crime has been committed. Just imagine if we had license plates, images of abductors, and images of the actual vehicles. It beats any eye witnesses because an image always tells the truth of what happened.

I’m not tech savvy — how does installation work?

Flock Safety installs and maintains the security camera. You’ll be shipped the equipment, and a technician will take care of the rest. If it needs maintenance, a technician will come within 72 hours free of charge! Even better, Flock Safety updates automatically, so you always have the latest features and the best security.

Ok, I’m in. How much is this gonna cost me?

If you sign up for a 2 year contract, it’s about $2,000 per camera, per year. This includes everything – installation, maintenance, footage hosting, cellular service, and software updates. You can also request a free quote — it’ll just take 20 minutes.

We love our camera, and think you will, too. Be sure to check out how their cameras solved real crime here.

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