Camera that doubles as doorbell captures burglars in the act

Device connects to smartphone

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Images of alleged thieves and burglars have been captured by the latest in gadgets: a tiny camera that doubles as a doorbell and connects right to a smartphone.

But do these doorbell cams really work?

Miami police Commander Armando Aguilar thinks they do.

"This is the next generation of doorbells," Aguilar said.

The camera is typically mounted next to a front door and as soon as a person gets into range, the camera starts recording, whether or not the person rings the doorbell.

A homeowner can watch live on his or her smartphone, from anywhere, and even talk to the person through a speaker. The camera also records clips of the video.

"The good thing about cameras like these is that they get a straight face shot of the suspect," Aguilar said.

In December, a woman was caught on a doorbell cam allegedly stealing packages in Miami. When the video made the news, Aguilar said other officers recognized her right away. Babellie Perez was arrested and charged with burglary and theft.

"We were able to take her into custody and charge her with several package thefts," he said.

Across the country, in one Los Angeles neighborhood, police credit a pilot program using Ring brand cameras for reducing burglaries by more than 50 percent.

"I was driving home from work and all the sudden I hear this sound from my smartphone. And I answer it and that's when I saw this individual at my front door. And I think it potentially saved me from being burglarized,"  Los Angeles-area resident Jon Sims said.

"It's definitely a game changer for law enforcement that technology is just becoming a lot more affordable, a lot better quality, a lot more user-friendly. It's really helping us do our job," Aguilar said.

The Ring video doorbell retails for about $199 on Amazon. At last check, the Skybell camera was on sale for $115.

Click here to find out how you can receive a discount on doorbell cam devices courtesy of the Southeast Florida Crime Prevention Association.