General Question

nmguy's avatar

Do surveillance cameras really work?

Asked by nmguy (528 points ) January 29th, 2013

A neighbor recently had a burglary, and now everyone is thinking about purchasing surveillance cameras. Do they really deter burglaries or are they a waste of money? How much does a good one cost?

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14 Answers

gambitking's avatar

you can rig up a webcam for cheap if you want, or spend hundreds on an extensive system with DVR recording

As for their effectiveness, they’ve been around a long time, used by just about every business, city, state and security organization…. so i’m guessing there’s something to that

ragingloli's avatar

They are not there to deter burglars, they are there to identify them, and catch them.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Like @ragingloli mentioned

They are not used to deter criminals, except if made visible, but rather to identify the culprit and imprison them…. They aren’t a waste of money in regards to punishment but it’s not going to save your belongings or prevent a robbery.. They simply handle the aftermath (unless of course you plan to monitor them in real time)

Pachy's avatar

Thanks for asking the question. I don’t have any but have thought a lot about getting at least one. I periodically get doorbell rings after dark—usually salesmen, I think—and don’t like depending on a peephole.

flutherother's avatar

The public CCTV cameras have a deterrent effect. People aren’t going to commit a crime if they know it will be filmed.

njnyjobs's avatar

@flutherother ..hardly a deterrent effect. CCTV is mostly for documentation…reviewing events and possibly identifying suspected perputators.. If you are a surveillance professional who seats infront of a CCTV monitor, then you would be able to see signs of possible criminal activity that you may call out and prevent. Whether it is a waste of money depends on the value of the premises being protected.

A good CCTV system can be had for about $200–300 per camera/channel. Better systems with PTZ feature, day/night mode, etc can set you back about $800–2,000/ camera/channel.

LuckyGuy's avatar

One of the groups in my company installs security cameras in sensitive areas. The cameras work from bright sunlight to total darkness illuminated by their own IR sources. They have motion sensing that compares every frame with the previous one looking for changes. Each camera frame is zoned into 150 elements that can be blocked independently for privacy or to ignore regular motion. If any camera sees a change it will begin recording and set an alarm which has several possibilities: It can be silent, private tone and/or send the live video feed to a hand held device and or monitoring station. The video can also be set to pretrigger for up to 30 seconds before seeing the event. The unit will run for about one month on its own battery and has enough capacity to record all cameras for about 2 weeks straight. That is usually not necessary as they are typically set up to record only when motion is detected. Cost ~$2500 with installation.
An inexpensive commercial version of this is made by Zmodo. An 8 camera system with a 1 TB hard drive will cost about $400. You do it yourself.

2davidc8's avatar

The local police in the town where I live had a town hall about a year ago. I went there and asked them this very same question. They had a low opinion of these cameras and paid surveillance/security services, and they said that these don’t deter anything. The criminals mainly look for money, jewelry, electronics (cameras, laptops, stereo), and guns. Quick and fast, and they’re long gone before they (the police) can get there.

They did feel, however, that a big, loud, dog is a good deterrent.

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LuckyGuy's avatar

i agree with @2davidc8 that the paid services with old CCTV cameras do not do anything. The pictures are usually dark blurry and the services take too long to respond.
The new cameras are HD quality and will pick up and begin recording people as they approach the house. Strategically placed, they will identify the vehicle and the and the suspects. The days of the blurry, black and white view from above looking down on a someone wearing a ball cap are over. (Or they should be over.) Multi-camera systems are now placed at all heights, and record sound as well.
You can even attach the motion sensing output to a recording of a dog barking.

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