As part of the DC Private Security Camera Rebate Program, I purchased three outdoor cameras and one indoor cameras for Lebaum St which we installed this week.
The outdoor cameras are on the front door, back door, and side of the house (5th St) and the indoor is in the living room. My tenants have reported to me that that someone in the house is damaging property and conducting illegal activity – that’s the reason for a camera indoors.
This morning, Raymond, my tenant who lives on the main floor called me and said that the camera was missing. I reviewed the footage on ARLO and saw Domanique who lives upstairs come down to remove the camera at 6:28am.
She then takes the camera outside the front door and disposes it. I immediately contacted Domanique who denied taking it. I then called 911 and the officer first informed us that the camera located in the living room is considered community property. As such, it is not a crime to appropriate or destroy community property – no different than taking a pot or utensil from the kitchen, they said.
I called BS. What if I had an expensive plasma TV in the living room, or an rare painting on the wall. My roommate or tenant does not have the right to steal or destroy it? Where do you draw the line?
The officers interviewed Domanique who after reviewing the video admitted that she grabbed the camera and threw it away. Apparently, she didn’t know that the camera stores footage in the cloud, so she destroyed it thinking she could get rid of the evidence. The camera cost me $140 and she refused to reimburse me for it. She had been destroying other property in the house and we needed a camera for the protection and safety of the other tenants in the house.
So I requested the officer contact their supervisor in which they agreed. Twenty minutes later the SGT showed up and reviewed the lease. Realizing that the living room is community property – shared by 3 other people, she agreed that I had a right to install a camera and my tenant did not have a right to remove and destroy it.
The SGT then instructed the officers to write a report and a subsequent arrest warrant for Domanique.
After a few days without hearing from the police, I emailed Chief of Police Newsham. I was surprised that he responded right away, and informed me that a detective has been assigned.
The detective called me later in the week and informed me that it was up to the U.S. Attorney’s office on whether they would prosecute the case.
“Why wouldn’t they,” I asked. “Domanique took something for value that she had no right taking.”
“Yes, but did she consent to having a camera installed in the living room?”
“She didn’t object. But why would I need her consent. The living room is communal property. It’s just the lobby of a hotel which doesn’t need my permission to having a camera installed.”
What do you think? Did Domanique have a right to remove and destroy the camera? Or is what she did considered petty theft?
Three years ago, DC police had no problem arresting me because I broke my tenant’s remote control (after she broke into my room)