Much like car insurance, a dash camera for your vehicle is one of those investments you hope you never actually have to use. In the best case scenario, you just install it in your car and forget about it – if nothing bad happens that you need to record in high definition as evidence, you still have invaluable peace-of-mind that only comes with knowing that someone (or something) is watching out for you.

Car dash camera

But if something bad DOES happen, that’s when your dash camera is supposed to snap into action. One minute, your car is parked outside of your home like it is on any other normal evening. The next, you look out your front window and it’s gone – someone has not only broken into it but totally stolen it as well. Luckily, you’ve got that dash camera that you can turn to in the event that the vehicle is recovered. It will have captured the entire event, all of which is actionable information that the police can use to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Or at least, that’s the way things SHOULD work. As one car owner in Vallejo, California recently learned, sometimes things just don’t happen the way we’d like them to. Technology is ultimately made by humans, and humans are nothing if not fallible.

The Case of the Vallejo Dash Camera: What You Need to Know

Joe and Hollie Fraga don’t actually live in Vallejo – it just happens to be one of their favorite destinations on the west coast, as they’re big fans of the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park. In March of 2019, they were in the process of another one of their regular visits when, unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst.

They were having a nice pre-park meal at a local Denny’s when suddenly they heard a lot of noise outside. It turns out their car was one of three that were broken into at the same time – definitely putting a damper on their big day. But luckily, Joe was protected. He’d recently installed a security system in his car, which came complete with an Owl Cam dash camera. After quickly reviewing the footage, Joe had HD evidence of a thief making off with his MacBook Pro and accessories, along with his wife’s clothing and medication.

After Denny’s general manager called the police, Joe showed his footage to the responding officer. But unfortunately, that officer didn’t exactly have what you would call “good news”… because he told Joe there was really nothing they could do.

The officer told Joe that if the dash camera had also captured a license plate associated with the thief’s getaway vehicle, there might be something that the police could go on. But only capturing the thief’s face wasn’t really enough – they needed access to more information that they didn’t have. The officer told Joe to file an online police report, and he did – only to have it rejected. Vallejo police say that this happened because, if video evidence is present, they want an officer to speak with the victim in person.

Likewise, the fact that a license plate wasn’t captured doesn’t mean that the police can do NOTHING – it’s just that this isn’t as much actionable information as people think it is and, as a result, bringing the perpetrators to justice was definitely going to be an uphill battle.

If nothing else, this is an important lesson that a lot of dash camera owners would do well to learn. Yes, these are incredibly powerful devices that bring with them an incredible number of benefits. But they’re not magic, nor are they the “silver bullet” you might be looking for in an effort to fend off would-be car thieves. At the end of the day, the information will always be the most powerful weapon that police and citizens alike can use to keep themselves safe from harm – and unfortunately, sometimes you just don’t have as much of it as you might like.