Neighbors Catch Bad Acts on Videos, Resulting in Charges and a Judge’s Guilty Plea
The price of surveillance equipment is falling, tempting people who are plagued by neighbors’ bad acts to buy a camera and play spy to catch the wrongdoers.
Sometimes the videos result in criminal charges, the New York Times reports. In one case, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., homeowner Steve Miller took action after he became fed up with plastic bags of dog poop that were being tossed into the shrubs in his front yard. In another, Houston real estate developer Adam Kliebert used a camera and caught a former judge who appeared to be keying his car.
The poop tosser was cited by the security patrol in Miller’s community for improper waste disposal, littering and leash law violations. The ex-judge, Woody Densen, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor mischief, although his lawyer said he didn’t damage the car and pleaded guilty to avoid trial. Both videos were posted online.
David Ardia, director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said such taping is generally legal. “It matters how you’re doing it and why, but generally it’s true that you can film your own property as well as anything that is in public view,” he said. “It’s when you extend your senses into unexpected places, like using a telephoto to film what’s going on in your neighbor’s bedroom, that you could run into trouble.”