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2 Investigators: Police Ignore Home Surveillance Video In Bucktown Robberies

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(CBS) – Cameras catching criminals in action, yet the offenders remain free. Home surveillance cameras record potentially great evidence, but police do not always use it. CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has this original report.

An alleged crook uses a tool to get through the front door of a Bucktown condominium building. The offense is caught on several security cameras. Daria Bernacki lives in the building and says she wants police action.

“I feel like I’m doing my part,” said Bernacki.

Video cameras she and other tenants installed show the burglar heading to the garage where he steals an expensive mountain bike. Bernacki says police have not looked at the video.

If police would have responded to her call, they would have seen on the video, the offender putting his hand on the door before prying it open. Then, they could have dusted for a print.

It was the second break-in at the building in a month. Tenants reported another burglary to police 10 days earlier. A suspect was seen on camera walking through the building and taking UPS packages. Police never came to look at that tape either.

“I’m afraid of that, this is escalating into something that can be a lot more serious very soon and I’m worried,” said Bernacki.

None of these alleged criminals have been caught. The fact is, in Chicago, burglars are hardly ever caught. In 2012, 13.9 percent of burglaries were solved. This year, 14.8 percent were solved.

“We have someone actually on videotape and it’s pointless,” said Bernacki.

Video can make a difference in solving crimes. Two burglars caught on tape breaking into a business, and smashing the camera, were caught by police in Florida. Police recovered the video and it made the difference in catching the offenders says David Welles, who runs a security camera company.

“Of the incidents we catch on video, it’s about 50 percent that they catch the guy,” said Welles. “And typically police know who the person is.”

In another case in Worth, Sherry Vanoskey’s home surveillance camera caught a man as he was stealing bikinis that were drying in Vanoskey’s backyard.

“They [police] came and they copied our hard drive and blew up the picture and they were able to use that,” Vanoskey said about police successfully using the video to arrest the suspect that same week.

Vanoskey says without the video, “He would have never been caught”.

“I’m just worried someone will get hurt and then maybe we will be taken seriously,” said Bernacki.

Because of our investigation, the Chicago Police Department is now investigating the break-ins at her Bucktown building.

Police officials say both break-ins lacked the necessary details when they were first reported.

The victims say otherwise and that they called 911 but got the run around.

As far as the solve rate goes, police sources say there often is less evidence and fewer witnesses to burglaries, making those tough cases to solve.

Some surveillance video is better than others. The latest technology can capture a very clear image of an offender.

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