Questioning the competency of home security equipment is understandable, especially if you plan to invest in an expensive system such as a network of surveillance cameras. The issue is rooted in the common observation that crimes happen even in cities where a video recorder is planted on almost every corner.
On the other hand, news outlets often share stories in which burglars are caught mid-action thanks to the surveillance footage streamed live by a hidden camera. The truth lies somewhere in between, as video security systems are great deterrents and useful tools for catching an escaped thief but they do have their limitations.
Cameras Are the Best Deterrents
In 2015 roughly 1.6 million burglaries took place in the U.S., meaning that over 4,300 homes were robbed per day. To rub salt into the wound, only 13% of reported cases were solved by the police due to the lack of evidence or witnesses. In light of these numbers it’s evident that homeowners need some form of defense.
The reason why so many experts recommend surveillance cameras is because they serve a dual purpose. The mere presence of a camera might intimidate less experienced thieves from targeting your property, and even if they do decide to break-in you at least have solid evidence against them.
On April 19 2018 a man broke into an empty house in Whiteville, NC but much to his surprise the police arrived sooner than he anticipated because the residents had spotted his presence via the remote camera system – something the criminal failed to notice while ransacking the valuables. Despite the fact that the offender managed to escape, he was soon snagged thanks to the diligence of the victims who posted stills from the security footage onto their social media account. The local residents spread the news, leading to the arrest of the interloper.
A Burglar’s Perspective
When thinking about the purchase of surveillance cameras it’s important to remember that there is no guarantee that they’ll protect you from every criminal. It’s possible that a rookie thief simply won’t notice them (as seen in the story above) or try to pull off the plan while wearing a mask. Even so, cameras remain one of the most effective deterrents.
According to a study that was conducted among convicted burglars, 60% of the attackers factored in the presence of a surveillance system when choosing a target, while the remaining 40% stated that they would rather skip on homes where high-quality cameras are visible. In summary, alarms and recorders have a definite effect on the burglars’ behavior and decision making.
Effectiveness Is Affected by the Setup Too
Surveillance cameras aren’t without flaws though, which could drastically reduce the effectiveness of your defenses or even go so far as to allow backdoor access for any crooks. The biggest issue is without a doubt hacking. IP cameras in particular are susceptible to virtual attacks where tech-savvy criminals can exploit weak Wi-Fi passwords or unencrypted security connections to disable or tamper with the cameras, rendering the expensive equipment useless.
There are other pitfalls that responsible homeowners should avoid when looking for cameras, too. For example, “weather resistant” doesn’t equal “waterproof”; your surveillance equipment quickly become useless after sitting in the rain for too long. Outdoor recorders should either be equipped with night vision or motion activated lights and they should be pointed at either the main entrance or the windows. And speaking of motion sensors, be sure to check the camera’s lag time before buying it, because too much of a delay between frames could potentially ruin any evidence footage.
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