Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners
Is it Legal to Use Them?
In the USA it is, generally speaking, legal for home owners to protect their homes with surveillance cameras. There are Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners that are designed to protect both the inside and the outside of your property.
Bear in mind however that laws can vary slightly in the USA from state to state, so it is always advisable to check the law in the state in which you live. If you live in another geographic region (such as the UK for example) it is well worth checking local laws before installing any form of cctv monitoring equipment in or around your home.
Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners inside the Home – Do they have to be visible?
Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners do not have to be visible. They can be used covertly if the home owner wishes.
If you have a hidden camera inside your home you can use it to record visitors without getting the consent of the person (or persons) that are being recorded.
For example many people who employ a nanny to look after their children, whilst they are at work, often use a covert ‘nanny cam’ in order to check that their child / children are being cared for properly and not suffering any form of abuse.
There are however laws regarding the use of video footage that is recorded by a hidden camera.
Any footage that is covertly recorded cannot be shared with a third party unless there is a legal necessity to do so!
It is also illegal to record video footage from a hidden camera within the home that is positioned in any area where a person could reasonably expect to have their privacy. These areas will usually include rooms such as bathrooms, bedrooms and changing rooms (if you have a pool for example).
It is also illegal to install any type of hidden surveillance camera in someone else’s home without their permission.
Can Covert Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners be used Outside the Home?
It is not illegal to install hidden outdoor surveillance cameras around your home. You do however have to take care that you stay within the law with regard to what you record with them.
Anyone who uses surveillance cameras outside their homes are expected to operate them in a responsible manner.
The surveillance camera should only record events that occur on your own property. You may, for example, be in breach of Data Protection or Harassment Laws if you point your camera at the street, pavement or directly at your neighbours house.
Although it is not a requirement it may be worth mentioning that you intend to install covert cctv equipment on your property with your neighbour. This could help to avert any issues that might arise at a later date.
There is no legal requirement, as far as I am aware, to erect notices informing people that there are surveillance cameras installed and that recording is (or may be) taking place.
Do Outdoor Home Security Cameras Prevent Crime?
There is no doubt that having a home security camera will reduce the risk of your home being targeted by a burglar. Outdoor Security Cameras can also be used in conjunction with other measures such as improved security lighting.
A criminal will not want his activities to be recorded and would generally try to avoid properties with surveillance cameras. In fact statistics suggest that Homes that have Security cameras installed are 300% less likely to be burgled than homes that do not have surveillance cameras.
Footage recorded by a home owner can be used by police to help them to identify, and prosecute, anyone believed to have been involved in a criminal act.
Should Outdoor Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners be Visible?
There is no law that requires outdoor surveillance cameras to be overt!
Visible Outdoor Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners are however undoubtedly a better option than covert outdoor cameras. Anyone wanting to commit a burglary will almost certainly prefer to break into a house that does not have security cameras rather than one that has.
Covert security cameras are designed primarily to discreetly record someone who may, or may not, be doing something illegal. The main function of outdoor security cameras is, in my opinion, to act as a deterrent.
You should place the cameras in a prominent position so that they can easily be seen, but not in a position where they can be tampered with. Simply seeing that a property has surveillance equipment will, in most cases, prevent a break in.
Should you still be unlucky enough to be a victim of a house invasion you will have video footage that you can make available to the police to aid them in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
It is also worth considering erecting signage (although not a legal requirement) at the entrance to your property stating that your property is protected by 24 hour cctv monitoring.
The more obvious it is that your home is protected by a home surveillance system the less likely you are to have your home targeted.
Should my Outdoor Home Security Camera Record Continuously 24/7?
Surveillance Cameras for Home Owners are available in a variety of different types. There are surveillance cameras that are able to record continuously but that may not be the best option for you.
It may seem like a good idea to record everything that happens around your home 24 hours a day, but is it really necessary?
Most people are only really interested in recording when something is actually happening. There is little merit in having hours of footage that shows nothing but an empty front / back yard.
You also need to consider how, and where, the video footage is going to be stored. In very basic terms you have two options when it comes to storing recorded data. You can store the footage internally within the camera itself or externally onto a hard drive (usually attached to a computer).
Surveillance cameras that are designed for internal data storage have a relatively small amount of storage space available. If you are considering recording continuously throughout the day a system that relies on internal storage only is unlikely to meet your needs.
What About Outdoor Motion Sensor Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners?
Surveillance cameras for home owners that are activated by motion sensors are generally the best choice for most people. They only record when motion is detected within their ‘field of vision’.
The majority of motion sensor surveillance cameras allow the home owner to define the sensitivity and/or range of the motion sensor. Settings can also be adjusted to take into account the difference in light levels that occur between daytime and night time operation.
Any Surveillance Camera System that you install (including motion sensor operated cameras) must have a night vision facility. There is very little point in being able to record what happens outside your house in the daytime only!
Motion Sensor Surveillance Cameras for Homeowners include both overt (visible) and covert models.
Where Should you Position your Outdoor Surveillance Cameras?
Statistically the front door is the most likely point of entry for a burglar. Doors and windows facing the back yard, first floor windows and garages are also prime targets.
These areas are obviously the areas that you want to try your best to protect.
When positioning the cameras themselves try to position them in such a way that any intruder will be approaching them at an angle. The PIR motion sensors are much more sensitive to anyone moving across their detection field than they are to someone moving directly towards them.
Approximately 34% of burglars gain access via the front door, which makes this area your number one priority. Make certain that the camera is close enough to be able to record facial images of anyone attempting to gain access. Many people tend to position their cameras under the eaves of their property or at second floor level. This does make tampering with the camera more difficult but it also makes it unlikely that you will be able to get a clear image of your intruder.
Ideally the back door and windows will be covered by just one camera. Depending on the layout of your property however this may not be possible and you may find that separate cameras are required.
If you are using covert (hidden) outdoor cameras you need to make sure that they are well hidden. They can be concealed in bushes, trees or bird houses for example. If you are tempted to hide them under the eaves or soffits make sure that they are close enough to record good quality images.
What Options are available for Outdoor Surveillance Cameras?
There are numerous options that you need to consider when Deciding on the Right Outdoor Surveillance System for your home.
Your first consideration is deciding which areas you want the cameras to cover. There are wide angle security cameras that are capable of covering large areas and there are cameras with a much narrower field of detection. Using wide angle cameras will reduce the number of cameras you are likely to need but there will be a compromise when it comes to the quality and detail they record.
The next thing you need to think about is whether you are going to install visible or covert outdoor surveillance cameras. As discussed above there is a strong argument for using visible security cameras but nonetheless there are those that still might prefer a covert option.
Although motion sensor outdoor cameras are likely to be the best option for the majority of people your situation may make recording 24/7 the correct choice for you. It is a decision you will need to make prior to actually making your purchase.
There are also wired cameras, battery operated cameras and wireless security camera options to choose from. Of course there are pros and cons to each of these systems. Your own preferences and requirements will determine which one is right for you.
Whichever type of outdoor security camera system you choose it is essential that it is completely weatherproof. There is actually an international rating system for security camera enclosures (not the cameras themselves). The system, known as the IP Rating System, rates the enclosure depending on the amount of protection it provides against contact with solid objects and also liquids (notably water).
The IP Rating System is voluntary so it does not necessarily mean that cameras that do not carry an IP Rating are not weatherproof or are inferior in any way. Buying one that does have an IP Rating does however provide the purchaser with a little extra peace of mind.
Should I use Both Indoor and Outdoor Surveillance Cameras?
Whether you use indoor or outdoor surveillance cameras will depend on the reasons you have for installing them. As stated above Outdoor surveillance cameras are used primarily as a deterrent whereas indoor surveillance cameras are generally used for covert observation.
There is however no reason why you should not use both indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras simultaneously to make your home more secure.
Although having a visible outdoor surveillance system is likely to deter the majority of thieves there is always the outside chance that you may still be the victim of a home invasion.
The more enterprising criminal may even decide to try to disarm your outdoor cameras. If he succeeds and actually gains access to your home having footage from a concealed indoor surveillance system may help considerably when it comes to bringing the criminals to justice.