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Uploaded security camera video online becoming an increasing legal risk

Uploaded security camera video online becoming an increasing legal risk
WATCH: Security videos showing apparent thieves in action are being seen more and more on social media. Global's Timm Bruch reports.

You’ve probably seen them on your Facebook or Twitter feed: security videos of what appears to show a thief trying to break into a car or home.

One local company told Global News its sales for residential security cameras have jumped 20 per cent in 2017.

But along with that jump comes an increase in videos shared with the aim of catching possible thieves.

While Winnipeggers are often posting the footage in hopes of catching the perpetrator, a lawyer said those shares could potentially land residents in more hot water than the would-be crook.

READ MORE: Doorbell camera catches man trying to break-in to Winnipeg family’s home

Defence lawyer Jay Prober warned homeowners to think twice before accusing anyone of a crime — even if they have security footage.

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“Even if you capture someone trying to break into your house, you can’t post that on social media,” Prober said. “Maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.”

“You’re slandering them and their reputation by saying they committed a criminal offense.”

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Prober said sharing surveillance footage with neighbours after crimes are committed is a form of vigilante justice which could put residents at risk of a civil lawsuit for defamation.

“If you say ‘this individual was trying to break into my house’ and it was a mailman or a milkman… then you have a problem,” Prober said.

READ MORE: Surveillance video captures recycling bin tossed by Winnipeg collection crew

Prober suggests going to police — not the online community — the next time one of thousands of security cameras in the city captures a dark figure in the middle of the night.

“Let law enforcement agencies deal with it,” Prober said. “Don’t take justice into your own hands.”