Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Written by Cheryl Tan
Cloud recording for at least 30 days
4K live-streaming and 1080p cloud recording
180 degree viewing angle
Chance of catching a thief
I do have to preface this article with a statement that a police report was made with regards to the theft, and investigations are currently ongoing. But the new Arlo Ultra security camera system I installed actually managed to catch a thief on camera. It also gave the police sufficient evidence for the investigation, as well as gave me a great story to tell over drinks with my friends.
Over the past year, my family has noticed things going missing from our mini-garden outside our apartment. Sometimes it could be a small plant, other times, perhaps a gardening tool. Police reports were made, but since we never had any evidence, nothing was ever able to be done.
When I received a set of the new Arlo Ultra security system, I thought to myself that it would only make sense to install one of the two cameras in a way that it could capture what was going on outside our door. But I didn’t want to drill a hole in the wall or make any permanent alterations.
So after a few days of contemplation, I ingeniously made use of some zip-ties to loop through the holes of the mount and secure the camera to my gate. Do note that I zip-tied the camera to the mount AND the mount to the gate, and the ties were all pulled to the tightest to ensure that removal wouldn’t be easy.
I left the camera there for around a month or so, removing and swapping the battery to charge as and when needed, which was around once every 3 weeks or so. Battery life was actually surprisingly great since the motion-activated capture wasn’t triggered as often as the camera that I placed in my living room.
Captured footage can be reviewed through the Arlo app, but it was mostly just my family returning home or neighbours walking past, so I never scrutinised the footage captured after the first few days of installing the camera.
One day, I was leaving my house around 9am, and I was greeted with the low battery notification from the Arlo app so I made a mental note to swap out the battery later that night for a charge. I never got the chance to.
When I reached home at around 7pm, I noticed that the camera was gone from my gate. I immediately thought it was a joke played by my younger siblings, and opened the Arlo app to check the last footage captured. What I saw shocked me.
A man came by about an hour after I left and stood there looking at the camera. He jostled the camera (presumably to check how it was secured to my gate), then knocked on the door once, which went unanswered since nobody was home. The video cuts off after he moves out of frame since it hit the 30-second cap, but the motion sensor captured a second clip and uploaded it to my cloud account before the camera unit went out of my Wi-Fi range.
In the second clip, the zip-ties were already cut, and someone (wearing the same top and carrying a similar style of bag as the man in the previous video) lifts the camera away from my gate and is videoed walking away and down the flight of stairs beside my apartment.
Knowing now that it wasn’t a prank by my family, I went down to the nearest police station and made a report. The officer on duty took my statement, viewed the videos and took a few images of the man’s face caught on camera. That’s about it for my story, but I do have to point out some of Arlo Ultra’s features that made it that easy to get the footage.
To start off, I was using the Super Wide angle setting for the external camera to ensure that I could capture as wide an angle as possible (180 degrees), and the footage, therefore, started from the moment the man was walking up to my door. This gave me enough time to pause the video and use another feature, which was the ability to zoom in.
Zooming in allowed me to get a closer shot of the man’s face. While it’s not as high-res as I would have hoped for, the police reassured me that it was enough for them to go on. There is 4K live streaming, but that feature only makes sense if you already know there’s something to look at in real-time. There’s no ability to record to the cloud in 4K with normal subscription plans unless you top up extra or use a MicroSD card, which stores the footage locally.
And of course, Arlo’s biggest selling point was always the ability to connect over Wi-Fi through the Arlo SmartHub and store the past 30 days worth of captured footage to the cloud (if you have an Arlo Smart account). Without this, I would be none the wiser about what actually happened.
While I’m still patiently waiting for the police to finish investigations, I’m optimistic that the culprit who took the camera from my gate will be apprehended soon, since I have evidence from the Arlo Ultra camera.
What a story, and what an amazing way to really be able to test the Arlo Ultra system by having such a thing happen in real-life.
More information about Arlo Ultra (starting from S$499 for a camera, and S$1,199 for two cameras and the SmartHub) and purchasing options can be found on Arlo’s website. Thief not included.