The creepiest things caught on doorbell cams

The technology of the 21st century has brought us many things, several of which are of dubious usefulness in the long run. One of the most popular consumer electronics, though, have been smart home cameras. There's no longer a need to spend a bunch of money wiring and installing equipment, nor do you need an absurdly large monitoring setup and tapes and who knows what else in order to use all of it.

Now, you can buy cameras about the size of a hockey puck (or smaller), install them yourself in about an hour, and monitor them on your phone, smart display, computer, or even your TV.

Most popular of these are video doorbells. These can be hooked into an existing doorbell system or just stuck to a wall outside your front door. These will record if someone rings the bell, but also when they detect motion. And sometimes what they capture is pretty freaky.

A kidnapping in progress

On a fall night in November 2019, residents of a Los Angeles neighborhood were startled awake by the sounds of a woman screaming for help. When one homeowner stepped outside to see what was going on, her doorbell camera sprung to life, recording the event as it was happening.

In the video, an unseen woman shrieks and calls for help. The homeowner, stunned by what's happening, looks on in horror. What's especially eerie is, just below the sounds of the woman's screams are a man's voice saying what sounds like, "I'm sorry." A white car then speeds off down the street in front of the homeowner's porch.

A police investigation quickly determined that the voices were actually coming from the white car that departed the scene, and they suspected the camera caught a kidnapping in progress. However, the most chilling details only came out afterward. While the Los Angeles Police Department did have reports of missing people in that area, none could be confirmed as the abducted woman. According to ABC News a few days later, police did at least say that the incident did not seem to be a hoax. On November 29, 2019, according to The Mercury News, police had still not identified the woman. As of 2020, there have been no further updates on the case.

A nightmare television salesperson

Henrico County, Virginia isn't a big place, and smaller still is its town of Glen Allen. While it's typically quiet there, an event in August 2018 left residents baffled and understandably creeped out. According to WTVR News, multiple Glen Allen homes found something strange on their porches one morning. Old-fashioned, boxy tube TVs mysteriously appeared in front of several houses. While this might be a boon to anyone itching to play some Super Mario Bros. or hook up the old VCR, Glen Allen residents found the "gifts" unsettling. In all, more than 20 retro TVs were left on porches.

Things got especially weird one year later, in August of 2019, when the same thing happened again. This time, though, some residents caught the culprit on their doorbell cameras. The unknown person, sporting a mask shaped like an old TV, was spotted by several homeowners quietly dropping more TVs off on porches. This time, more than 50 were delivered.

Locals began calling the person "TV Santa Claus." A video released publicly by WTVR shows the individual, wearing what appears to be a mechanic's jumpsuit and a TV-shaped mask (possibly an actual hollowed-out TV) calmly stepping onto the porch, depositing the TV, looking in the direction of the doorbell camera briefly, and then walking away. TV Santa Claus apparently skipped August of 2020, but no one has identified them or knows if they'll one day make another appearance.

The scariest Florida Man encounter ever

You might be familiar with the phenomenon of "Florida Man," a meme derived from newspaper headlines written whenever a man from Florida commits some sort of bizarre crime, giving the state a reputation of residents who just love to get involved in strange events. Florida Man is sometimes even used to refer to an imaginary superhero who is actually a singular person behind all of the reports of Florida Man.

A particular creepy encounter with Florida Man occurred in Boca Raton, Florida in September 2018, according to CBS Miami. A doorbell camera captured a man dressed in a bulletproof jacket, khaki pants, and nothing else stumbling to a home's front door. The man was also wielding a semi-automatic rifle and seemed inebriated. Tom D'Errico, one of the house's residents, wasn't home that night, but his wife and children were. Seeing the man on the doorbell camera, D'Errico's family hid inside the house in terror as the man continued ringing their doorbell.

Police arrived 20 minutes later, but the armed man had disappeared by that point. It didn't take long to locate him though — he was the family's neighbor. It turns out the armed man's daughter had been staying with the family after she told them that she was terrified of her own father. It's not clear exactly what he was planning to do if someone answered the door, but chances are, it was nothing good.

A very scary attempted break-in

Homeowners worry about the same things — fires, floods, termites, and yes, break-ins. Calling 911 and home defense are things most folks would turn to in these situations, but in a 2018 attempted break-in in Fresno, California, the crime was so strange that it actually stunned the homeowner, a former police officer, according to ABC 30 News.

The homeowner's doorbell camera captured a very disturbed woman. She knocks on the door, pacing back and forth, agitated, and demands to be let in. Most shocking of all, the woman eventually rams her shoulder into a window by the door, shattering it, rips the screen off the now broken glass, and begins trying to climb inside. The homeowner shouts from inside that she is armed and is prepared to shoot. The strange woman, confused, asks, "Why?" and wonders aloud, "What is going on?"

Police arrive and confront the woman, later identified as a first grade teacher, claiming her friend lives in the house. Things got even creepier from there. The following day, a man in a police chaplain's uniform (which looks similar to a police uniform) showed up at the house, saying that the intruder was his daughter. Since the homeowner was a retired cop, she knew this was not protocol and suspected the man was trying to intimidate her. After this occurrence, an investigation was opened against the chaplain, according to Fox 26 News.

A stranger in dire need

We all like to think we'd help a stranger in need. You may have even had someone you don't know at your door, requesting assistance. While these incidents normally raise our alarm, as such situations can occasionally go sour, a great many people say they're willing to help people they don't even know, provided nothing creepy is going on.

Unfortunately, creepy was pretty much all that was going on when a woman rang a homeowner's doorbell at 3:30 in the morning in Montgomery, Texas in August 2018, according to ABC 13. In the video, the woman looks to be in distress and some sort of restraints are dangling from her wrists. The woman doesn't speak in the short clip, but she reportedly rang several other doorbells that same early morning. Investigators couldn't identify the woman in the video right away. Residents thought she resembled a local missing person.

The following month, the woman identified herself and explained what happened, though that didn't make things any less scary. In an interview on Inside Edition, the woman explained that her boyfriend had tied her up and sexually assaulted her, according to ABC 13. She managed to escape, ringing any doorbell she could find, but got no response and eventually had no choice but to return home. It's not all bad news, though. She was able to get away again and drove to her family's home. A few days later, her abusive boyfriend was found dead of suicide.

An abandoned child

We've all heard stories of children being abandoned at hospitals or orphanages. Several tales in pop culture even begin that way. While it's awful for a child to be abandoned by their parents, in many cases it's a better outcome than staying wherever they're at. But what happened in Houston, TX in October of 2018 was anything but a story.

When a homeowner found an abandoned 2-year-old on her doorstep, her first act was to call the authorities, according to KSAT 12. Police came out to investigate and checked the recordings from her video doorbell: An unknown woman drags the child by his arm onto the porch. The woman then sprints away, leaving the little boy behind. The homeowners and the public at large were aghast that something like this happened, and the footage quickly made its way through social media and onto the local news.

Thankfully, this led to the boy's father seeing the video and contacting Houston police. A few days later, the woman in the video came forward to explain, according to ABC 13. She said that the boy's mother was in the hospital and asked her to drop the child off at his father's house, but she had the wrong address. She claims she was cold and forgot a sweater, so she sprinted back to her vehicle, but, frankly, her explanation of her behavior leaves more questions than answers.

Strangers trying to kick doors in

In movies, there's a surefire way of defeating any locked door standing in your way — taking a few steps back and kicking the door down. In movies, this always works easily. The door splinters or the lock gives way immediately. In real life, though, that's not really how it happens, as evidenced by multiple video doorbell recordings out there showing criminals attempting this and failing.

In a video from Oakland, California, two men walk up and look to see if anyone's watching. One of the men then gives the door a hard kick, followed by another. He pauses briefly and kicks the door twice more, at which point the homeowner shouts at them. They quickly flee. In a similar video, two crooks linger outside of a door and leave when they notice the doorbell has a camera. Apparently this doesn't dissuade them, because they come back shortly after and this time give the door a kick. When the homeowner speaks to them through the intercom, they run off again. 

The strangest occurrence of this caught on video is a man in Sacramento, California who, completely unannounced, attempts to kick down someone's front door, then starts ranting incoherently when the owner tells him he's called the cops. The man, confused, asks "Why would you tell me that?" He then says he's planning to "smash what's in there." Police arrested the man minutes later and found him to be highly intoxicated.

Serial robbers attempting to do their thing

Burglary typically isn't a one-off crime. A great many of the burglars out there (the ones who are caught anyway) have probably done it many times before, whether for money, the thrill, or something far more sinister.

Sometimes, these thieves are caught on doorbell cameras, and it's sort of eerie watching them work. In 2016, a Milford, Connecticut couple went on vacation and saw the same masked man trying to open their locked door three separate times, according to Ring. After his second visit, the video was released publicly, but that didn't scare him off. He kept coming back, five times in total, and leaving when he found the door locked. He was clearly waiting for the night when the door wasn't locked and someone was home. After his fifth visit, police staked out nearby finally caught him.

But what about the crooks who don't come sneaking around at night? What about the ones that show up in broad daylight? In 2016, a homeowner in Escondido, California had an odd conversation with a "salesman" who claimed to be looking for a client, according to Ring. Later that day, a neighbor's house was broken into and the homeowner remembered the odd visit. Her doorbell camera captured the conversation, and she posted the video to social media. Police caught the stranger and found he was a prolific burglar, responsible for at least 19 break-ins in the area.

A bizarre late-night visitor

In 2016, a YouTuber named Shannon Wood posted a seriously creepy video captured by her home's doorbell. In this case, no one even rang the bell, but the device's motion sensors picked up movement and recorded the whole weird event.

A shirtless man steps onto the home's porch at night, casually walking up and reaching out to push the doorbell button, only he never actually pushes it. According to the video's description, the residents were able to see the visitor from other angles and confirmed that he never rang the bell or knocked on the door. He only pretended to do so.

This is where it gets very strange. The stranger begins pretending that he's talking to someone, but he's only talking to himself. He looks back over his shoulder at one point, revealing that he's not alone. There's a driver parked nearby. He then asks no one, "Matt live here?" He gets no reply, but says, "Okay, sorry about that." He waves, saying sorry a few more times, and walks away. You can then barely hear the man say that no one named Matt lives there. He gets in the car with the driver and they leave. The poster of the video believes that the man was being forced to do something he didn't want to do, so he faked the conversation to get out of whatever it was.

The creepiest trick-or-treaters ever

In movies like The Purge or other home invasion films, criminals will often wear a creepy Halloween-style mask and appear at the front door to intimidate whoever is inside. They might make an eerie monologue or they might just stare silently, scaring the pants off of whoever is inside. But that's the movies. That doesn't happen in real life, right?

Unfortunately, if doorbell cameras are to be believed, it probably does. Multiple homeowners have caught weirdos wearing creepy masks hanging around outside their homes. In some cases, it's even literally a Halloween mask, as strangers have been caught on video wearing Michael Myers get-ups, once in 2018 and again in 2019. In the first, the stranger rings the bell and runs away, clearly a prank, but in the second video, another Michael Myers steals a random decoration off of the homeowner's porch before casually walking away.

Creepier than either of those is a video that Ring, the video doorbell manufacturer, posted on their Facebook page after having it sent to them by a customer (something people do regularly). An unknown person in a spooky clown costume, holding a huge machete, paces outside the door, rings the home's doorbell, then runs away.

Mysterious, inhuman creatures

If you have a doorbell camera and cats that go outside, you're probably well aware that things other than humans can trip the motion sensors and give you an uncomfortable recording of Mittens cleaning his unmentionable area. While these are often ignorable little reminders that technology is not yet perfect, sometimes doorbell cameras catching animals can yield video that is just incredibly terrifying.

Take, for example, a video captured in Montgomery County, Texas where the homeowner's doorbell camera was set off by a snake that just happened to be slithering all over their doorknob. There are likely people reading this right now that would see that and simply buy a whole new door. Even worse is a similar video captured in Orlando, where a visitor walking up to a home's door is surprise-attacked by an awaiting snake, which immediately bites him in the face. Hopefully it was nonvenomous.

But for a video that's just downright horrific, a homeowner posted a recording from his doorbell cam on YouTube. The doorbell's motion sensor caught what appears to be someone standing just out of frame wearing all black. The owner asks if he can help the person, who appears to look around suspiciously. Then, a black object drops into frame, followed by another, revealing that the "person" is actually a large, black spider, crawling across the camera's lens.

A stranger licking your doorbell... for three hours

There are some things you can simply never anticipate. While cheaper home security platforms make us feel safer, it can be tempting to wish to flee back to the good old days where we could just assume no weirdos are coming up to our front doors, doing or saying bizarre things. We might miss the warm feeling of naivety that came with not knowing that there are some things out there we'd just rather not see.

Take, for instance, a video captured by a family in Salinas, California in 2019. In it, an unknown man leans over to the doorbell on the wall beside their front door and just starts... licking it. It's like watching a kid with a lollipop, except it's a grown man and a doorbell. To say this is bizarre is an understatement.

What makes it next-level weird is that the man didn't just do this for a second or even a minute. No, this prowler licked the family's doorbell for three hours straight. Who even has that kind of time? Police were later able to identify the man, according to ABC 13, specifically because the video was so clear, which is good marketing if you're a camera company, but horrifying if you're the family who wakes up to see this in action the following day.