Alleyways are attractive for people peeing in corners, and the alleyway behind my house where I park my car is a perfect place (apparently) for someone to do just that. But about a year ago, during the waning months of summer, I went downstairs to get in my car and was hit with that most offensive of smells — hot, roasting pee.
I checked in the corner, where I'd found evidence of said activity in the past, but the smell wasn't coming from there. Upon closer inspection (and this was truly unpleasant), I discovered staining on my front left tire, the urine mixing offensively with hot summer tire. Suffice it to say, I poured a hefty bucket or two of water on the problem and it disappeared. For a few days.
A week or so later, I came downstairs and — same smell, same tire. I was fed up. But I also had a potential solution, a Ring Floodlight Cam that I'd been waiting for warmer weather to install (summers in Canada are fleeting) and replace my old motion-sensing lights that no longer worked properly.
If you're not already familiar with Ring's (growing) brood of smart cameras, lights, and hybrids, the $249 Floodlight Cam is the most comprehensive (and expensive) of the series that includes the $199 Spotlight Cam and the $179 Stick Up Cam, plus the bevy of smart lighting solutions the company debuted earlier this year. You get two ultra-bright LED floodlights — seriously, these things are impressive — plus a 1080p camera with a wide 140-degree field of view (plus a motion detector with an insane 270-degree FOV) that wires into your existing circuitry.
There's a microphone and speaker to convey two-way communication, too, and the whole thing blends nicely into your existing landscape in either black or white. Finally, there's a 110-decibel siren for when you have to blare the horns in case of an emergency.
Once connected, the Floodlight Cam connects to your Wi-Fi network to transmit video back to Ring's servers, where you can get motion alerts for people or movement of any kind, along with a live video feed of what's going on. For $3, you can store up to 60 days worth of video footage for a single device, or for $10 per month you get unlimited backups for all of your Ring products.
And that's really what's changed since I began using Ring products back in 2016. Back then, it was an independent company with just a doorbell, which connected to an indoor chime up in my office. But then the company started expanding into other areas, including wired and battery-powered cameras, lights, and even a full-fledged security system. By the time Amazon bought Ring in early 2018, the company was expanding rapidly, and is now one of the most prolific smart home accessory makers in the business.
Anyway, back to the Floodlight Cam. One sunny Sunday morning, I turned off the breaker to my garage and spent around half an hour installing the thing — something I didn't think would be as easy to do as it was. Once I turned the power back on, I connected it to the Ring app and began monitoring the situation. The motion sensor engaged the lights reliably and from a good distance away, which I like for security reasons, while the video quality during both the day and at night was good enough for my needs.
But I immediately noticed a problem that still exists today: when motion alerts are enabled, and even when the sensitivity is set to warn only when people are in the frame, I got far too many false positives than I'd like. Anything from a squirrel to a branch frantically swaying during a storm would set off the motion alerts and ping my phone. The only reason I didn't disable the damn thing is because I wanted to capture the Peeing Man.
I was curious when he was coming — was it late at night, on the way home from a jaunt, or early in the morning? More than anything I wanted to know why he was peeing on my car. (You may be asking how I knew it was a person and not a dog. I didn't. I had initially suspected that it was a dog owner letting his pup play nice with my tire, but that turned out not to be true.)
For a few days, things were relatively quiet, and then around 6 am in late August I got a motion alert. I wouldn't have usually seen it, but I was awake peeing into an actual toilet and haphazardly checked my phone. The alert had happened three minutes earlier and when I opened the Ring app (which takes way too long to load — one of my major gripes with the whole system that I hope is remedied in the future) I saw a man walking around my car just looking into my car's window. I put on a pair of shorts, ran downstairs, out the door and around the house into the rear alleyway ready for a full-on confrontation. The way the driveway is designed, he wouldn't be able to leave without walking through me, so I emerged in front of him and, sort of stunned, exclaimed, "Hey! Why do you keep peeing on my car?"
He looked up and stared at me for a few seconds, face blank. This time I took a second to compose myself and said, "I have you on camera peeing on my car," which was technically correct even though I only had one of the now-half dozen times I'd discovered evidence. He looked at me and mumbled a few words and quickly walked past me, onto the sidewalk and around the corner onto the street beyond. There was no resolution, just me feeling stupid for confronting this man who clearly had mental health problems and did not appear to be doing anything but relieving himself on an object that he'd become familiar with.
Over the next few weeks, the Ring Cam caught him a few more times, same early hour of the day, coming to pay his respects, but instead of urinating on the front left tire he just circled the car talking quietly to himself. Whenever I got that "Person detected" notification, I'd check the camera, watch him for a few seconds, and then exit the app. The experience morphed from unseen anxiety to strange, repetitive normalcy. After a time, there was almost a comfort in seeing him make his regular pilgrimage to the vehicle, circle it a few times, and leave.
4 out of 5
As fall and winter came, the man frequented less, but now that it's spring again I'm expecting to see him any day now. In the meantime, my Ring Floodlight Cam continues its sentry on my once-dark back alleyway, but the only thing it tells me with any regularity is that we have a family of overweight raccoons living somewhere nearby, and they absolutely love my neighbor's garbage.
The reliable sentry
Ring Floodlight Cam
Bright light, dark night
Ring's Floodlight Cam is everything you need in a wired sentry, with ultra-bright LED lights, fantastic 1080p video quality, a super-wide motion detector, a very loud siren, and it's easy to install.
Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.
I have one of these on my house, along with many Nest cams. I have to say I have the exact with the Floodlight Cam experience you do, both with the camera and the app. The motion sensitivity is indeed very, very high. It's very hard not to get false positives. And that Ring app, Oy... It does often take what seems like forever just to see an alert or even get to a live view with no alerts. This is in contrast to the Nest cams and Nest app which mostly work flawlessly and very quickly and consistently for me. If Nest only made a Security camera with lights and horns like this, I'd move to it. But overall the Floodlight Cam, though expensive, works well and provides me peace of mind ..
Nice review! Great story!
Why not just blare the alarm whenever he came by? That'd likely scare him off.
I don't think he wanted to scare him. It seemed after he confronted him he noticed something about him that made him not a threat. And just that one time got him to stop going to the bathroom on the tire. Rest of the time he just walked around the car. Which I find very strange but hey if he isn't hurting anyone nor going to steal anything, and gave a mental health problem (guessing that what he meant as he had health issues) and it makes you feel good. Then go for it.
I envy your restraint.
Apparently this is a thing! We used our camera to catch our neighbor pouring pee on our car. We thought we had the same situation as you, but video evidence proved that he was actually dumping CUPS of pee on our car. Cops were called in.
What?! The?! Ok I got my ring floodlight to catch a similar person doing similar things to my car. Why catch them if your not going to do anything at all but ask them why? Waste of a floodlight cam. When someone does things like that you have to act. When I caught them I took out every bit of anger and rage I had. I grabbed him by the neck and kept punching until my hand broke then I let him fall while I jumped on him with my boots. Then while he was crying I dragged him on the floor all the way down the street and left him there covered in blood crying. Left him a sad tatted up tweaker, who will never deface or damage someone elses property again. The ring recorded it all too, too violent to put on youtube. Now a year later no issues at all, no one gets near my car at all. Whole neighborhood saw it and you would swear the black plague is on my car the way people avoid it. I get almost no alerts, and I sleep well. He is looking into your car for things to smash and grab. Casing it, building up courage to do something. He also knows you wont do anything to stop him, even if he pisses on it. So to him your prey. Sooner or later you will leave an ipad out and he will smash and grab it. Then the cops will do nothing because it doesn't bump their compstat numbers or bring in revenue. To them they catch them and they get out O/R within a week back on the street doing it again. So they dont really pursue things of this matter. Also the alarm on the ring only scares children away, it's pretty weak.
You should be locked up. Smh.
At least you didn't feel the warmth of your shirt covered in blood as the person plunged a knife into your torso whilst mumbling to themselves during the confrontation.
If that happened at least you'd have the misdemeanor turned murder on Ring camera, floodlit and full of evidence.
He was sleep walking and peeing on his own car
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