A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Hugo Reed
Many security camera companies market their products under the guise of providing protection to consumers, and I can’t really blame them. After all, they have a sales quota to reach. However, I do believe saying a security camera helps deter crime and protect your property, is a rather misleading statement.
Now, I am sure that there are benefits to using a security camera, but how many of these benefits are actually security related, and how many of them will keep your property safe or stop a crime from happening? I want to emphasize that I am not disparaging security cameras. I am simply stating that just like picket alarm signs, they are not all that effective at protecting your property.
The main purpose of a security camera is to observe and document a particular area that falls under its visual radius. For some cameras, this radius might stretch far, and for others, it will be nothing more than a few feet. The keyword I would like you to pay attention to here is ‘observe’. Observation is a passive activity that does not indicate that any action will follow. This is the key facet of security cameras that people tend to overlook.
Observation alone is not enough to protect your property. Relying solely on a passive security measure like security cameras will leave your property vulnerable. As I pointed out earlier, there are benefits to using security cameras, but not many of these benefits will actively protect your property.
The unfortunate thing is that many people who have security cameras installed in their homes or offices believe that these devices keep them secure. That is until something goes awry and then they are stuck wondering why their security cameras were not enough to protect their property. Join me for this wild ride as we take a look at the reason why your security cameras are not protecting your property.
People often cite the deterrence of crime as their reason for utilizing security cameras. I completely empathize with people that foster this notion, but I can’t say that I agree with them. I believe that the perspective which sees security cameras as a feasible stand-alone security solution is somewhat flawed.
By saying that you hope that a security camera deters a criminal from approaching your property, you are assuming a stance of dependence rather than actively working to prevent them from approaching your property. In this instance, the first thing you are depending on is your security camera. The second element that you are placing your trust in is the nature of the criminal compromising the security of your property. Let’s get one thing straight, criminals do not care, but you should care about your own security measures.
I would imagine that they care a great deal about some of the things that go on in their personal lives, but they do not care about your property or the presence of your security camera. One thing you have to understand is that criminals, burglars, and thieves do not care enough about the aforementioned elements to not try breaking into your home. To them, the presence of a surveillance camera is a mere suggestion that they should find a different path for their lives. There are countless minutes of surveillance footage from multiple sources that show criminals ignoring the surveillance cameras that are meant to keep them at bay.
An argument could be made that if burglars notice the security cameras that are in place, they will refrain from committing a crime, but I consider this to be wishful thinking. Regardless of whether a burglar sees a surveillance camera or not, the outcome will likely be the same. If they do not notice the camera, they will commit the crime or attempt to do so. Burglars are usually more frightened by alarms than they are by security cameras.
If they do notice the surveillance camera, there is a very high chance that they will ignore it because they know very little will come out of the resulting footage. For reference, consider this absurd crime that occurred in Las Vegas, where a burglar blatantly ignored the presence of surveillance cameras and made off with an air conditioning unit. Does it sound like he cared about the presence of surveillance cameras?
The truth is having a security camera around does not guarantee that criminals will not commit a crime. In discussing this, we will touch on the nature of passive security once again. If a criminal wants to damage or steal your property, there is very little that a security camera can do to stop them. This holds true even if they do spot the surveillance camera or a warning sign that tells them they’re being recorded. Ideally, you want to have security measures in place that are actively working to prevent and deter any crime that might make your property and its inhabitants vulnerable.
At best, a security camera will only be able to incite some action while the crime is underway. Imagine you receive a notification from your surveillance camera (equipped with remote access features) alerting you to a crime being committed. You will be prompted to take action to prevent the crime from being carried out successfully.
However, if the crime goes unnoticed, but still observed by your security camera, nothing has been accomplished and the crime has still been carried out successfully. Let’s take another look at the example that was used in the above section. The only way the culprit would not have known that there were surveillance cameras installed is if they were illiterate because the homeowner had placed several warning signs up. This simply goes to show that having a security camera installed, and keeping it easily visible, does not stop the crime from being carried out.
If I had to take the time to describe how the mind of a thief works, I would not know where to begin. I will admit that in re-reading the above headline made me laugh. Surely you see the irony in this as well? Let’s place irony aside for just a second, and point out the fact that many people do not consider the fact that security cameras can be stolen. It might sound surprising, but it makes sense.
Most surveillance and security cameras are given minimal security, which makes them fairly easy to access. There are additional parts of security cameras that are vital to its operation, like the security DVR, CCTV cables, power supply, etc. Most people think that because the cameras are placed separately from their accessories that each part is kept safe.
However, if a burglar is ready to steal your security camera while it hangs on the side of your building, or in a hallway in your home, you should rest assured that they will have no qualms about breaking in and grabbing additional necessary parts. Security cameras are valuable and can easily be resold as a unit or as individual parts.
I cannot say that I comprehend the motives that drive anyone to steal a security camera, but I believe it is usually done to either gain something of additional value or to get rid of evidence. There is the possibility that some burglars will want to steal a surveillance camera simply because they believe it caught them in the act, and they want to make sure there are no breadcrumbs leading back to them.
In the past, this was likely to be a logical solution, but in this modern age, most security cameras, especially DIY cameras that are easy to install, back their footage up to the cloud. Not many cameras store footage locally anymore, so walking away with a camera in a bid to cover one’s tracks is rather pointless, and it seems like a lot of work is being done for no reason. If a burglar were to steal a Nest Cam, or a Logi Circle, it would amount to nothing.
The battle cry for anyone who has a security camera installed as a means of protection seems to be the aspect of documentation. I think that documentation is important, only as long as the documented footage serves a purpose. Although security cameras offer security footage, they do not guarantee that your property will be protected. At the very least, they offer closure about how your property was compromised and this could help you figure out what you have lost, but it still offers no protection. Also, it doesn’t help you get your belongings back or repair any damage.
The need for documentation exists, I don’t dispute that, but it is way too passive of a measure to seriously be considered as a way to protect your property. The truth is if you review your camera footage and find something odd, your next course of action would be to report it to the appropriate authorities or to try and solve the problem yourself. Unfortunately for you, burglaries generally have a very low probability of being solved, so law enforcement usually doesn’t commit a great deal of time and resources to solving these kinds of cases. If you opt to not report this occurrence, and choose instead to go into vigilante mode, there is still slim chance that you will be able to catch the perpetrator in the act.
Many homeowners have footage of crimes going down around their homes, but this footage has yielded little to nothing. For instance, take a look at this Rio Rancho neighborhood that was plagued by a peeping tom. This weird man was spotted on multiple surveillance cameras (in different homes), but there was not much that could be done to reprimand him or stop him from committing the sordid act again. At this point, the harm had already been done, and there is very little chance that he will be caught and held accountable. Take a second to comprehend the fact that he was able to freely walk up to people’s homes and peep into the windows of young teenage boys and girls.
I do not want to sound like I am praising thieves or criminals for breaking the law, but I do have to point out their uncanny resilience. There are quite a few articles that go into the art of repeat burglary and repeat crimes in general. The thing about burglars and thieves is that they want to hastily move through whatever location they are taking advantage of. Often times, in their haste, they do not get everything they need so they will decide to come back for more. The same goes for criminals like peeping toms. They often believe that if they can get away with it once, they can get away with it again.
If someone approaches your home, or your office, and is not met with any active security measures that are meant to stop them, they will think the coast is clear and they will continue to show up. Would you want to have security footage of a criminal committing a crime again and again, or would you rather implement a way to stop them?
Security cameras offer no guarantees that a criminal will stop committing a crime, especially if there are no measures in place that can stop them. Similar to the first point I made, if you think the presence of your security camera will stop a criminal, you are banking your property security on the goodwill of someone who feels like they have a right to take something away from you. This could be your valuables or your sense of safety and privacy.
A security camera does not restrict the access that a criminal has to your property, which is something everyone forgets to tell you when they say security cameras protect your property. Remember how I said that security cameras were merely suggestions to criminals not to do anything? The same can be said for almost every type of security measure, but there are some key differences.
Essentially, every security measure can be considered a suggestion, until it is put to the test. The fact that you might have the world’s most secure lock installed on your door does not mean that it will stop a burglar from attempting to break in. If you have window blinds and security shades installed on all the windows in your house, there is no guarantee that it will prevent someone from trying to peek through to see something they shouldn’t. However, unlike security cameras, active security measures restrict the access that a criminal might have to your property. How does a security camera restrict access? It doesn’t, instead it observes and stands guard while someone potentially gains access to your property.
It would make much more sense to have a security measure that was capable of restricting access in place. Many common commercial door locks are geared towards increasing access control methods. Always keep in mind that you should strive to work on the things that you know you can change. Spending time on the unknown will increase the likelihood that you leave a stone unturned and your property vulnerable. In this scenario, the mind and intent of the criminal is what should be considered the unknown factor. The thing that you probably know better than anyone else is the layout of your building (home, office etc) and you want to use this information to your advantage. By this I mean that you should ensure that there are adequate security measures installed that actively work to restrict unauthorized access.
Here are some active security measures that you can utilize to ensure that your property is better protected. If you choose to integrate your security cameras with the measures listed below, all the better. That will ensure that you are actively securing your property while simultaneously documenting activities that occur around your property.
1. Actively work to restrict the access of unauthorized individuals. This should be done for your home, office, and any other property you want to protect. Assess the ways in which your property can be accessed. Secure all ingress and egress points with the appropriate locks and security alarms. Utilize window shades and window locks on all your windows. Remember that no access point is too small to be used by a criminal, so leave nothing to chance. Perimeter security has a huge role to play in restricting access, so do not overlook security gates, motion sensor lights, etc.
2. Take the time to layer your security measures. Having layers in place ensures that if one security measure fails, there will be another active measure to back it up. For example, if you have installed a monitored security system in your home, make sure that there are more traditional security measures in place propping it up. These can range from reinforced deadbolt locks to stand alone motion sensor alarms placed at vantage points within your home or office. Striking a perfect balance between modern and traditional security methods is usually best. For example, understanding whether smart locks or traditional locks are more secure is something you will have to consider.
3. Secure all important valuables. This means that you should have air conditioner brackets guarding your external AC units, and use padlocks and security chains to guard your security camera equipment. If there are valuables within your home or office that need to be secured, consider using a safe or a lockbox to store things. Research the different types of security safes to figure out which is best suited for your needs.
4. Do not neglect to maintain these security measures. Installing them is only one part of the solution. Maintenance will keep all facets of your security in tip top shape and prevent anything from breaking down and causing a vulnerability. Assess your doors and windows and their respective locks to see if they are up to par. Also, assess the way your alarms work as well as the parts of your perimeter security. If you notice any damage (or structural wear and tear) in your door locks and window locks, consult a locksmith so they can assist you by installing new locks or repairing any damaged locks you have.
Property is an investment, regardless of how you look at it. For this reason, protecting it is important, so you have to do your best to accomplish this. Like I said earlier, I am not advocating against the use of security cameras. I simply pointing out that they have to be used in a smart fashion, so that they complement other security measures that are protecting your property.