Caught in the act

sunday argus 13 October 2002

By MELANIE PETERS

They could go down as the criminal mugs of the week.

Two burglars who ransacked an upmarket home in Welgemoed, Cape Town, were blissfully unaware that their every move was being captured by a miniature closed-circuit camera linked to a computer in the house.

The criminals, who are the stars of their own police file home movie, could soon be playing a different role behind bars.

Resident R.V. has handed the footage to police who are confident they will arrest the burglars soon.

R.V. recently installed a PC-linked closed-circuit television system and one camera was already linked to the computer when the burglars, a man and woman, broke into the house on Thursday.

They stole a hi-fi, video machine, compact discs, clothes and jewellery but left behind the computer on whose hard disk their activities had been recorded.

R.V. said: "The house was a total mess, we felt violated. Fortunately they did not take the PC or the evidence would have been lost.

"The police were also able to lift some fingerprints and the footage will now assist them in bringing the culprits to book."

R.V. said in one frame he could even see one of burglars trying on his leather jacket.

He said he had only one camera active as the system was not yet fully operational. But he planned to install two more cameras inside and two outside with a microphone strategically placed so that if he was burgled again he could pick up additional information such as names.

He said the system would allow him to log on from another computer at work where he would be able to view what was happening at home.

He had also installed a software package that would alert him when there were intruders in the house or someone was at the front door.

So the message to all you criminals out there is: smile, you may be on candid camera.

* Initials used to protect identity