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Ring puts suspected thief in Facebook sponsored ads

Ring footage is being used across Facebook sponsored ads to help identify a suspected thief.


Ring is being used to track down suspected thieves.

Robert Rodriguez

Ring has used a sponsored video on Facebook feeds to show footage of a suspected theft attempt in California.

The footage, captured on the doorbell camera and shared via Ring's Neighbors app, asks anyone with knowledge of the suspect to contact Mountain View Police Department.

"Mountain View and vicinity: do you recognize this woman?" asks the video, spotted earlier by Vice. "This video was shared by your neighbor on the Neighbors app."

The video shows a woman attempting to open a locked car.

The description beneath the idea adds: "On May 22, this woman was caught on camera breaking into a vehicle at a Mountain View home near Castro St and Miramonte Ave ... please share this post, so we can all stay alert."

As of time of publication, the video had 13,274 views, and had been shared 108 times.

A Ring spokesperson said its community alerts system is helping keep neighborhoods safe by enabling community to work alongside local police.

"Alerts are created using publicly posted content from the Neighbors app that has a verified police report case number," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday. "We get the explicit consent of the Ring customer before the content is posted, and utilize sponsored, geotargeted posts to limit the content to relevant communities."

People are then able to post tips or share info, which is used by police to find persons of interest or to investigate crimes.

Amazon's Ring is also being used to help law enforcement to build a surveillance network, with police departments across the nation offering free or discounted doorbells to citizens.

In some areas, recipients of the subsidized or free Ring doorbells are expected to hand over footage to police when requested.

On Tuesday, Ring said it would start stepping in.

"Ring customers are in control of their videos, when they decide to share them and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan," Ring said in a statement this week.

"Ring does not support programs that require recipients to subscribe to a recording plan or that footage from Ring devices be shared as a condition for receiving a donated device. We are actively working with partners to ensure this is reflected in their programs."

Originally published June 6, 1:02 p.m. PT.  
Update, June 7: Adds statement from Ring.