Police say Ring cameras aren't as useful for law enforcement as you think

Ring Video Doorbell Pro lifestyle
Ring Video Doorbell Pro lifestyle (Image credit: Ring)

What you need to know

  • Ring's may be overestimating how effective its cameras are at preventing burglaries.
  • There are several factors to consider when looking at the statistics, and Ring doesn't share the data and methods it uses.
  • Law enforcement doesn't usually keep stats on how helpful Ring cameras are and often has trouble identifying those who are caught on camera.

When you're concerned about the safety of your home, one of the first things that comes to mind is getting a security camera. These days, connected cameras are easier and more affordable than ever to get. However, according to a recent article from NBC News, there is little evidence to show that Ring cameras have helped prevent or solve crimes.

The Amazon-owned Ring claims that its cameras can help keep neighborhoods safer, and cites its own research that Ring doorbell cameras reduce burglaries by more than 50%. However, Ring does not share the methods it used to reach that conclusion. It's also worth noting that property crimes, including package thefts, have already been on a decline.

Even though Ring has partnered with more than 800 law enforcement agencies since 2018, the evidence that the cameras were helpful was a little thin. Just because there is a lack of evidence, doesn't mean that the cameras haven't been useful, though. That is due to several factors, one of which is many departments don't keep stats on how many crimes Ring footage has helped them solve.

Ring Video Doorbell

Source: Ring (Image credit: Source: Ring)

Another factor is that the partnership with Ring only gives law enforcement access to the footage shared by owners on the Neighbors app, which can often be filled with trivial videos. Officers often spend time wading through footage of petty neighbor squabbles, and even videos of neighborhood pests such as raccoons.

On the occasion when the police do come across the video of an actual crime, the problem then becomes trying to identify the suspect. When speaking with Lt. Jack Harvey of the Houston Police Department, "he noted that the flood of evidence generated by Ring cameras doesn't often result in positive identification, much less an arrest."

"You have a video of one unknown person in a city of two-and-a-half million people!" he said while chuckling, pointing out that his department is in dire need of more officers."Our limiting factor is not evidence," he continued. "We have more solvable evidence than we have investigators."

One more reason crime stats may not tell the full story is because porch pirates are often not reported to the police. In most cases, the homeowner reports the package theft directly to the shipper asking for a replacement. Meaning that even as online shopping and package delivery are on the rise, reports of porch piracy to police are not accurate.

While Ring cameras may not be as effective as the company claims, it's worth noting that they can be a powerful deterrent if the person sees the camera is present.

"We do attribute a drop in crime to Ring cameras and other surveillance systems," Master Sergeant Patrick O'Grady of the Cape Coral Police Department, emailed NBC News. "People we arrest for burglary have told us they look to see if there is a Ring camera."

Jason England