Sunday 21 December 2014

Man who captured thieves on film forced to remove footage from website

Published 12/02/2014 | 17:23

The Data Protection Commissioner has instructed the founder of a website - which posts CCTV footage of criminals in the act of crimes - to remove the footage.

Robert Waters set up crimecctv.com earlier this month in an effort to raise awareness about the burgalary on his house in Killiney, Co Dublin on December 12.

The CCTV footage shows the thieves climbing the wall outside his house, breaking entry into his house through the back window and leaving again four minutes later.

The four thieves took his wife’s jewellery, small electric items, his phone, and money after ransacking his house.

He told RTE’s Liveline today: “There were four people jumping over the wall of my property. They were masked and they were gloved.”

“They all entered into my house and they left within four minutes.”

“Gardai have acknowledged it as a crime event,” he said.

To his surprise, Mr Waters received a letter from the Data Protection Commissioner, asking that he remove the footage from his website.

The letter told Mr Waters that he doesn’t have permission to make the footage public, because of protection under the law.

“The images that are captured on film are personal data,” the letter said. 

Today, Mr Waters said: “Unless I get the criminal’s consent, I’m committing a crime,”

“It is a crazy situation. Every person that I’ve said this to has said ‘I can’t believe it’…it’s purely based on an effort to end crime in your community.”

“It’s supported by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.”

“It’s personal household CCTV footage. I put the cameras up during the summer as part of a home improvement project.”

“I just missed these [burglars] by seconds. We had just left the house. We missed them in minutes.”

Mr Waters’s footage has had thousands of views on Youtube, and he has had hundreds of people contacting him on Facebook.

Today, he told independent.ie that he will now remove the footage because he doesn’t want to break the law.

However, he said: “This [legislation] is something that maybe needs to be changed. I think people have a right to see these very clear-cut images.”

“It’s a ridiculous situation to be in and I just would put a call out to see if it can be corrected. Obviously this is our legislation.”

“I haven’t taken it down yet because it takes me a little bit of time to take something back down.”

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