NBC10.com - Denise Nakano
Philadelphia police want residents to register their home surveillance cameras in an effort to catch criminals. NBC10's Denise Nakano explains how you can help.
It was last Thursday when Steve Petroski discovered the theft. Petroski had just returned to his home on Boston Street in the Fishtown section of the city when he realized someone had broken into the house, stealing a laptop computer, tablet and several items of jewelry, including his wife’s wedding and engagement rings. Yet Petroski says he was also happy to find something just as valuable as the stolen items: footage of the thief from his home surveillance video.
“Smile!” Petroski said. “You’re on camera!”
Petroski’s surveillance camera shows a clear shot of the suspect as he looks directly into the camera, providing major help for investigators.
“Between the police YouTube, NBC10 and the Facebook posts that were shared thousands of times, everybody has seen him, they know his face, what he looks like and how he walks,” Petroski said.
Police say Petroski’s surveillance camera is one of 600 that have been registered in a city-wide program known as “SafeCam.” Through SafeCam, police are able to notify registered members whenever there’s a criminal incident in the vicinity of their camera.
Surveillance video has become a critical crime solving tool. It helped capture and recently convict the man who tried to abduct a 10-year-old girl from a South Philadelphia Street last year and has been an aid in the investigation of numerous crimes.
Police say registering with Safecam is free, quick and completely voluntary.
“The whole idea of SafeCam is to remain anonymous,” said Philadelphia Police Lieutenant John Stanford. “In no way, shape or form are we looking to put anyone in harm’s way.”
Petroski first registered with SafeCam after his surveillance video captured a man trying to steal his grill over the summer. Now he and his wife Jenn are hoping his video will help police find the most recent thief targeting his home.
“When I went upstairs and saw how my room and jewelry were ripped to pieces, I just lost it,” Jenn Petroski said. “I want my stuff back.”
The suspect is described as a medium-built man with a gray goatee between the ages of 50 and 60. He was last seen wearing a light gray cap with a white logo on the front, light gray Polo style shirt and dark-colored knee length shorts.
If you have any information on the theft, please call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-8477.