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ShotSpotter device mounted on house without owner's knowledge

PITTSBURGH — A Brighton Heights man came home recently  to find a strange-looking device mounted on top of his home. Mike Natale called the police because he had never seen anything like it before.

They arrived and told him it was a ShotSpotter device.

"I was mad. I was real mad," Natale told Target 11 investigator Rick Earle. "I never gave anybody permission to do that."

ShotSpotter pinpoints the location of gunshots. Target 11 recently reported the city is expanding the range of the system's coverage. The company started installing them several years ago in the East End.

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Most of the devices are on city-owned utility poles or buildings, but in some communities they're installed on private property. This time, they put the device on the wrong rooftop: it was supposed to go on the townhome next door.

Channel 11 brought the issue to Pittsburgh Councilwoman Darlene Harris.

"Accidents will happen like that," Harris said. "If there's damage, then it should be rightfully paid to that person."

It did do damage. The contractor left holes in the siding where the power box was mounted in the back and on the fascia where ShotSpotter was installed. Natale said he even had to call Duquesne Light because his air conditioner didn't work. He told Channel 11 the crews working on the ShotSpotter put a piece of the air conditioning unit in backwards.

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A representative from the company sent an email to Target 11 sayingd they were working with Natale on remaining repairs.

The emails went on to say they normally put the devices on taller structures like light poles and public and commercial buildings, but use private residences with the owner's permission when they have exhausted other options.

Natale found another ShotSpotter in a nearby cul-de-sac. He says what's even more perplexing is why ShotSpotter picked this location.

Said Natale: "I haven't heard a gunshot in 30 years."