You will often hear cynics say that home security camera systems are great for recording crime but they do little to actually prevent it. Even if this were true, recording a crime isn’t such a bad thing, is it? The police have a much better chance of finding and convicting housebreakers if they have footage of the incident. This is particularly useful if the cameras record clear mug shots of the criminal(s). For most folks, though, they would prefer it if their security investment actually prevented crime rather than record it. So just how effective are home security cameras as a burglar deterrent?
What the Research Says
There has been some extensive research into this. One survey entitled, ‘Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective,’ is worth noting. The main focus was to look into the minds of serial housebreakers-male and female-to determine how they make their decisions. The aim of this 64 page study was to determine the following:
- Key motivations
- Target-selection strategies
- Techniques used to break in
- Gender differences
- Effectiveness of deterrence factors (security cameras, alarms, etc.)
The results were interesting to say the least. Keep reading to find out what the burglars have to say.
What the Burglars Say
Despite what the cynics think, the majority of intruders do take the presence of security deterrents into consideration-cameras, alarms, dogs, and so on. This is not speculation but the words from over 400 reoffending burglars. Around 83% would look into the security situation of a property before making their decision. In other words, if security is weak or non-existent they are far more likely to break in. If security measures look strong and effective, they are more likely to move on to an easier place. In short, the opportunistic burglar cherry-picks their target property based on its security, or lack of.
Burglars Understand Home Security
Outdoor cameras that are just out of reach, and pointing down, are the best deterrents. The fact is that most opportunistic burglars have a better understanding of home security than most homeowners do. They have to if they’re to be successful as career criminals. If you have cheap and poorly positioned surveillance cameras (especially those which are easy to disarm or bypass) the intruder is likely to know about it. If security is good, about 60% of burglars will move on. Those who decide to break in anyways either know how to disarm the system, or they are experts at getting the job done quickly. These types will cover themselves up and break in even with cameras and a loud alarm blasting out from the property. They have a pretty good idea of whether they can get the job done before anyone turns up.
Home Security Layers
You might have heard alarms sounding off in your own neighborhood for an eternity before someone arrives to investigate. Burglars know all about this ‘lack of interest.’ A professional crook is usually in-and-out in less than 12 minutes on average, and often sooner.
The good news is that your property is much less likely to be a target if your security setup is evident and of quality. Home security cameras alone won’t help much. But when they’re a part of a wider security system they become much more of a deterrent. For example, your property has visible security cameras, an alarm, and maybe motion-activated security lighting. When you protect your home in layers you have a much better defense.
Understanding the Mind of Burglars
According to the above study, there are notable differences in the motivations between male and female burglars. For example, men, in general, tend to think their break-ins through more so than women. They even weigh up the odds in spur-of-the-moment break-ins, whereas females tend to just go in and hope for the best. Another thing to note is that women prefer to commit their crimes in the mid to late afternoons. Men tend to prefer later in the evenings, preferably when no one is home. Home security cameras with good night vision capability are therefore crucial. Over 70% of female burglars are addicted to drugs and it’s their number one motivational factor-a crime of desperation. For men, it’s all about the money.
On conclusion, a home surveillance system is a good deterrent. If it is setup properly, it will either deter crime, of at least record it up to the point where the criminal disarms the system. If you have cloud (internet) storage, the burglar can run off with the camera but they can’t get away with the footage. Remember, home security cameras act as a more powerful deterrent when they’re part of your overall security layer and not your only hope of defense.