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Ring cameras can help you spy on your neighbors, but they have not really helped the police

Ring’s security equipment is advertised as a way to have peace of mind about your home, and the company’s cooperation with law enforcement to provide additional security is well documented. But two recent stories about the Amazon-owned company show how security cameras can distort your view of how much crime is actually taking place near your home and how they may not help the police at all in solving crimes .

In one article, Max read, to write for New York Magazine, wrote about his experience with installing a Ring security camera on the door of his apartment. The installation of it apparently made him hyper aware of what was happening around his house, partly because of the many reports from the app about the movement of his camera and from “Safety Alerts” sent by the Neighbors app from Ring, which looks a bit like a social media network for ring owners.

Read said he found the Buren app to be “terribly addictive, a wildly engaging hodgepodge of voyeurism, suspicion, discomfort and mystery.” Neighbors seemed to read more than he wanted to know:

… as entertaining as neighbors is, it is haunted by a background feeling that you may not need to know so much about your block or your neighborhood. Moments that you would never have known without the Ring – a stranger standing on your doorstep or knocking on your door – stand up as evidence of potential danger and urban decline. Even unquestionably harmless activity, like me unlocking my own door, gets the tension of danger thanks to the images in the style of a security camera.

He also disputed how Ring’s marketing strategy “depends to a large extent on convincing homeowners that their property is constantly threatened by crime and that Ring Cameras can help prevent this” and how it encourages this heightened sense of danger.

But Ring footage is not only interesting for individuals – the company also has partnerships with nearly 900 law enforcement agencies based on the premise that the agencies can use Ring Data to solve crimes. According to many organizations, no crime can be attributed to a solution thanks to a ring camera NBC News investigation.

NBC News spoke to 40 law enforcement agencies in eight states that have been working with Ring for at least three months. Here is a quote from the article about how effective those partnerships have actually been:

Thirteen of the 40 jurisdictions reached, including Winter Park, said they had made zero arrests due to ringing. Thirteen were able to confirm arrests made after viewing Ring Images, while two offered estimates. The rest, including major cities such as Phoenix, Miami and Kansas City, Missouri, said they did not know how many arrests had been made due to their relationship with Ring – and therefore could not evaluate its effectiveness – although they had had more than a year worked with the company.

And of the arrests that were attributable to the Ring, there were many for low-level non-violent property crimes:

Of the arrests that the police linked to Ring, most were for low-level non-violent property crimes, according to interviews and police records assessed by NBC. These arrests detailed the theft of a $ 13 book, the theft of a Nintendo Switch video game console (and various items, including two coffee mugs, purchased from the Home Shopping Network with a value of $ 175. In Parker County, Texas, two people were arrested for alleged steal a dachshund with the name Rufus Junior, worth $ 200.

The two articles together indicate that although Ring is effective in raising your awareness of the ins and outs of your home, the company’s devices and services can make you more susceptible to that ins and outs and may not help you law enforcement in an important way.

Ring declined to comment.