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In Creepers Versus Cameras, Creeps Win
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Care-free creeper checks the car doors.

After our burglary last year I went a little nuts on the house camera system. After awhile it became clear that the building out of such an extensive surveillance system was probably done more as a hobby and frankly (and pathetically) no small degree of ego gratification since footage tends to equal great share content. It's hard to tell where my genuine appreciation for frustrating bad guys ends and my deplorable need for online attention begins though I imagine it's a pretty fuzzy one.

Burglar loots my room in May 2018. The recounting.

Creeper footage is not just great Facebook fodder though -- the potential of technology, and in particular off the shelf consumer technology, to combat crime problems once considered 'just the way things are' is a personal genuine fascination. 'Combating crime' is of course done on a number of different fronts starting most fundamentally with making sure civilizations have a robust and just social fabric that encourages empathy between humans, provides reasonable safety nets, authentically educates, and that they exhibit compassion throughout all of their institutions. This array is followed quickly by prevention techniques and then in some short order, effective control, penal, and rehabilitative measures.

We will have achieved utopia when the only crime left is that which is motivated by pure impulse or some degree of mental illness. And we will of course never reach utopia. The limitations of our human brains leaves this reality window open as an effective fact of life to criminals horrific and more benign, like creepers.

Creepers as I deem them are people who are grounded down so far in life that they take to preying on the unguarded by slinking about probing unlocked cars, garages, and yard gates for loose treasure or any measure of sustenance. My over-investment in cameras catch these people in action and it's incredible to see how far they will go and the risks that they take - to the extent that they consider what they do 'risky'. It seems that as home camera systems have begun to proliferat these folks have become somewhat ambivalent.

There seems to be good reason. Based on my own experience in all this, as well as on the postings of creeper videos by others in social media or within proprietary camera network (such as Ring's Neighbors app), some things have become apparent.

Ring is a mission-driven company with an app.

First, it's amazing to me how having a real-time eye on places using all this great technology rarely translates into an intercept or in-time capture of various perpetrators (like this rare exception which is awesome). I am not sure I have a good understanding of why just yet but it seems to boil down the simple fact that while our cameras can be 24/7, our attention kept in sync with them, cannot be. The burglar in my apartment last year rummaged almost 20 minutes in clear view of my camera and was not challenged the least by it, tangibly or even psychologically. As I toiled away at work, my camera app tried to notify me, repeatedly, but I didn't notice.

Other people consistently and almost exclusively post video in social media of porch pirate and other illicit activity, but it's always video after the fact by hours or even days.

So bad guys are learning that no matter what they do in front of the camera's eye, the chances of a homeowner bounding out with a shotgun are probably nil. The same goes for anyone part of a social media group. Hundreds of people can be notified but the chances of certain confrontation are still low enough to mute the creeper's concern.

In fact, this Allstate Mayhem ad pretty much exemplifies the futility of notification.

Even watching live is not enough sometimes.

It's one thing to not always be ready for intercept; most of us are not poised to attack criminals all day long after all. People kind of 'get' that camera systems exist just as much, if not more in reason, to document evidence of a crime, not trigger an instant armed response. But even on this point the cameras are not particularly aggravating to swines.

At least for the 'creeper' ilk, where clear criminal intent exists but no (serious) criminal event actually winds up taking place, it seems that law enforcement attention is practically non-existent. Again in my personal experience, but also by an observed lack of engagement by police or others in the online forums where these things get posted. One may have the idea that police would take a keen interest in any video showing someone prowling about and that they would breathlessly integrate those postings into their daily patrol efforts. But if they are they aren't telling.

So, bad guys in this era of the constant eye are learning that even as an erection of some giant red flag about their existence, it's a flag that will be ignored. All this means that at the end of the day we have non-confrontation and lack of follow up in their favor. Cameras be damned.

I am of course guilty of daring to muse about all of this with no clear solution to propose. Creepers are a dime a dozen, rarely impact anything seriously aside from an intangible sense of safety perhaps, and police and for that matter the time in the lives of ordinary people, are too strapped to take every creep action as seriously as this blog post sort of asserts.

Even so, I still find it incredible that as a society we now have the means to build a literal video database of inclined behavior, yet we seem uninterested in doing anything with it other than gaff over the audacity of certain people's behavior in social media.


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