Caught on camera: Virginia Beach family says newly-installed security system captures images of thief

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 11:38:52-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Virginia Beach family contacted News 3 after their newly-installed home security system captured a man on camera, apparently taking items from their yard.

Shawn and Amanda Ellis say they’ve never seen the guy before and that it happened as they were volunteering at church on Wednesday evening. Video shows that a car pulled into their driveway; then, a man got out, walked around briefly and began to take seemingly random yard décor.

Amanda was alerted on her watch that the garage camera detected a person in the driveway.

“We watched it a couple of times, and we’re just very shocked to see someone come in the daylight and just take our things,” said Amanda Ellis.

“Technology has improved by leaps and bound,” stated Master Police Officer Linda Kuehn, public affairs officer for Virginia Beach Police Department. “The home security cameras that people can get at a big box store have amazing quality. They’re very helpful, very clear - even at night in the dark. The night vision is amazing on these, and you can really get a lot of detail.”

Police say cameras have been proven to help prevent crime as well as prosecute criminals - not just in the yard of the individual, but sometimes for a whole neighborhood.

“If a vehicle or suspect crosses the path of your camera, that can assist investigators in finding what occurred elsewhere,” explained MPO Kuehn.

While Shawn Ellis was pretty excited about installing multiple cameras around the exterior of their home, his wife wasn’t so sure at first.

“I was like, ‘I don’t think we need it.’ But after seeing the footage of someone just taking our things, I think it’s a good idea,” Amanda said.

The Ellis family is grateful the crime wasn’t anything more serious, but they still felt violated.

“I know the police department has major crimes to worry and things like that, but no crime should go unpunished,” Shawn Ellis told News 3. “Maybe I get my gear back. Nothing serious, but you can’t just go yard shopping or any other type of shopping, and property doesn’t belong to you. That’s the overall message.”

Police have identified a suspect. They say they are in the process of serving a warrant for petty larceny. In Virginia, this would be a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months of jail time.

The family told News 3 Tuesday that their stolen light fixture has been returned and the family is dropping the case.