Frank, Juengel & Radefeld, Attorneys at Law
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Missouri man frightens alleged porch pirate via video doorbell

Those approaching the door of a home in Missouri would do well to smile; they might just be on camera. Video doorbells that connect to Wi-Fi and send an alert to homeowners' smartphones when someone approaches the door are increasingly popular. Proponents of the technology tout it as a theft deterrent and claim that it is particularly effective against a specific type of theft known colloquially as porch piracy, which occurs when a thief steals a newly delivered package off someone else's front porch.

Video doorbell technology allows the homeowner to see who is approaching the house even from miles away. One Kansas City man was in Colorado doing Christmas shopping while on a family vacation but was still able to use an alarm component of his video doorbell technology to frighten away a man whom he suspected of attempting to steal a package on his porch.

The package contained a 34-inch monitor and it arrived earlier than the homeowner had anticipated. Motion detection cameras on his property sent an alert to his smartphone that a man had driven a car onto his property. The homeowner claimed that he did not recognize the man. Video footage of the incident shows the man reaching out to grab the package when the homeowner activated an alarm that sent the man running back to his car. The video doorbell and other security cameras on the property recorded the whole thing.

Authorities are grateful to the homeowner for submitting the video to them, claiming that video recordings of alleged theft attempts help them to solve crimes. Be that as it may, new technology often has the potential for abuse, especially when retailers sell it and consumers adopt it without considering all the legal and ethical ramifications. The day may come when Missouri citizens see the technology used to threaten or harass law-abiding citizens. In the meantime, those accused or charged with theft or other property crimes may wish to consult an attorney.

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