Beverly Hills Police Detectives Christophe Lelong and Aaron Goff knocked on the door of a house near Los Angeles International Airport. Only 10 hours had passed since a guest home in Beverly Hills had been burglarized. When the door opened, the detectives found two suspects whose pictures they’d seen on surveillance footage, along with every item that had been stolen from the house on Foothill Road.
“Everything lined up perfectly,” Lelong said. “I don’t think anything could have worked any cleaner that day. And no one got hurt.”
The odds of catching burglars and recovering stolen items is low. Nationwide, just 30% of stolen items are ever recovered. Working in their favor is the fact that thieves can usually slip in and out of homes unseen.
Not so in Beverly Hills. The city is peppered with 1,300 cameras, not to mention residents’ home security cameras, businesses’ surveillance systems and a Ring or Nest on seemingly every door.
“There is no limit to how priceless cameras are to help us find the bad guys,” Lelong said. “We continue to add cameras to the city because of the amount of help they give us.”
The officers who responded to the burglary call took detailed notes and relayed the information to the detectives. Lelong and Goff were able to use the resident’s surveillance footage, cross-reference it with city cameras and layer on some additional resources at the department to find the suspects’ car and home. A plainclothes officer confirmed that the get-away car was where they expected it to be.
From there, solving the case and recovering the stolen jewelry, makeup and other personal items was relatively easy. One of the suspects had been out on parole for burglary. Both face felony charges.
Lelong said the footage – both the resident’s and the city’s – sped up the investigation greatly.
“The faster we are able to obtain information, the more likely it is we can recover stolen property or locate suspects,” Lelong said. “I think they thought, ‘We’re square.’ That was not the case.”
Lelong suspects the city’s cameras act as a deterrent.
“We do have some things that occur like this one. There’s no failsafe to prevent everything,” he said. “But we have lots of officers on the street, and because our response time is what it is, it makes criminals think twice about hitting our city.”