Ring Continues To Insist Its Cameras Reduce Crime, But Crime Data Doesn't Back Those Claims Up

from the any-spin-necessary dept

Despite evidence to the contrary, Amazon’s Ring is still insisting its the best thing people can put on their front doors — an IoT camera with PD hookups that will magically reduce crime in their neighborhoods simply by being a mute witness of criminal acts.

Boasting over 1,000 law enforcement partnerships, Ring talks a good game about crime reduction, but its products haven’t proven to be any better than those offered by competitors — cameras that don’t come with law enforcement strings attached.

Last month, Cyrus Farivar undid a bit of Ring’s PR song-and-dance by using public records requests and conversations with law enforcement agencies to show any claim Ring makes about crime reduction probably (and in some cases definitely) can’t be linked to the presence of Ring’s doorbell cameras.

CNET has done the same thing and come to the same conclusion: the deployment of Ring cameras rarely results in any notable change in property crime rates. That runs contrary to the talking points deployed by Dave Limp — Amazon’s hardware chief — who “believes” adding Rings to neighborhoods makes neighborhoods safer. Limp needs to keep hedging.

CNET obtained property-crime statistics from three of Ring’s earliest police partners, examining the monthly theft rates from the 12 months before those partners signed up to work with the company, and the 12 months after the relationships began, and found minimal impact from the technology.

The data shows that crime continued to fluctuate, and analysts said that while many factors affect crime rates, such as demographics, median income and weather, Ring’s technology likely wasn’t one of them.  

Worse for Ring — which has used its partnerships with law enforcement agencies to corner the market for doorbell cameras — law enforcement agencies are saying the same thing: Ring isn’t having any measurable impact on crime.

“In 2019, we saw a 6% decrease in property crime,” said Kevin Warych, police patrol commander in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but he noted, “there’s no causation with the Ring partnership.”

[…]

“I can’t put numbers on it specifically, if it works or if it doesn’t reduce crime,” [Aurora PD public information officer Paris] Lewbel said.

But maybe it doesn’t really matter to Ring if law enforcement agencies believe the crime reduction sales pitch. What ultimately matters is that end users might. After all, these cameras are installed on homes, not police departments. As long as potential customers believe crime in their area (or at least their front doorstep) will be reduced by the presence of camera, Ring can continue to increase market share.

But the spin is, at best, inaccurate. Crime rates in cities where Ring has partnered with law enforcement agencies continue to fluctuate. Meanwhile, Ring has fortuitously begun its mass deployment during a time of historically-low crime rates which have dropped steadily for more than 20 years. Hitting the market when things are good and keep getting better makes for pretty good PR, especially when company reps are willing to convert correlation to causation to sell devices.

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Comments on “Ring Continues To Insist Its Cameras Reduce Crime, But Crime Data Doesn't Back Those Claims Up”

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13 Comments
DannyB (profile) says:

Someday, maybe

I’ll let others address the privacy implications of Ring, and that Ring hands over video to police and government behind the backs of the property owner and camera owner.

Those things ignored . . .

Someday, Ring might actually reduce crime. Today, at best, it might only deter some crime, or help catch crimes that continue to occur. This might, eventually, make crime decrease some as crooks avoid Ring infested properties.

However those crimes might simply move to other properties that are not infected with Ring.

Anonymous Coward says:

I would argue that having a camera on your property, or more importantly a sign stating you have a camera on your property, would keep most from stealing packages off your porch. Option 2, you don’t put up a sign, and stick an exploding shit bomb in the package, post the vid on you tube,….., profit!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nothing happens to people stealing packages off of a porch. You can report to the police and they will do nothing. During these times, it’s even worse than that.

The RING doorbell is not going to stop packages from getting taken. Once you see one of them, you’re already there and might as well take the package at that point. I have Security cameras around my house. Easy to spot. Overlapping fields of view.

Still, if I can, I’ll either get my packages delivered to work. if they’re Amazon, I get them Delivered right inside my garage which I really like. I wouldn’t be a fan of dropping off inside the front door. it would be an issue anyway with a security gate. my Retired Dad lives at my house and may not be fully dressed sitting in the room watching TV. The Garage is perfect. I do have a camera inside there. A cheap WYZE one. They’re not looking around and scoping things out. They are in/out as fast as they can. My Package is now secured inside and so I don’t have to worry about package theft.

Police having access to Ring Cameras, Ya, no thanks. I wouldn’t get a ring. I don’t want another monthly charge. I would look at the EUFY Doorbell. It does Local Storage. They now have a battery option. The Video Resolution is better and it’s quicker to report someone on your phone than Ring. Oh and no police spying through your camera. If I was going to get a video doorbell, the EUFY is the one to get. Check out Youtube reviews and comparisons.

Koby (profile) says:

Misunderstanding of Security

Some security features can delay criminal acts, such as locking valuables inside a safe might prevent a crook from grabbing your property and then fleeing the scene. The hope is that this delay will increase a cook’s chances of being detected before the theft is complete, and thereby deter crime.

But a video camera offers no such delay protection. In fact, an obscure doorbell camera might go completely overlooked by crooks. Therefore, there probably isn’t any mechanism for it to deter crime.

The main possible use, at least for now, is for these doorbell cameras to assist in the identification of crooks, and then help provide evidence that might later be used to secure a conviction. Someday in the future, crooks might be deterred, but for now it is just misleading advertising to claim that a doorbell camera that few people even know is there will prevent crime.

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