Subscriber Discussion

LPC Camera Needed To Catch Vandal Knocking Lights Off Mailbox

I have a customers that is fanatical about catching whoever keeps knocking the lights off his mailbox. He currently has cameras that provide an overview but he wants their license plate number. I have tried to talk him out of this because of cost but hes determined.

I need some help coming up with a possible solution. He currently has a icrealtime 808e DVR so I will have to pull this off with Analog cameras.

What do you guys think about me mounting two cameras on each side of his brick mailbox to catch traffic going both ways. Its just a small two lane neighborhood roadway going downhill about 10 degrees.

Does this seem feasible and if so whats the cheapest recommended camera to pull it off?

He wants something thats pretty close to 100% to constitute spending the money. All he cares about capturing is license plate numbers with what I provide.

Thanks and sorry for the typos its late and I'm exhuasted.


Oh yeah its in GA so license plates are on the rear only.

Keith, rear only makes it easier, so that's good. There are many analog LPC cameras.

What cost / price is he is trying to stay within? For instance, icrealtime has an LPC camera but it's ~$1,400 online. From a scan of google products, there are lower cost ones from DW and Bosch for ~$600.

Also, how far is the camera going to be from the car when it passes by. 10 feet? 20 feet? 100 feet?


I am considering the ICRealtime camera. When the car passed in one lane it will be around 15 ft. In the opposite lane it will be about 20-25 ft. And the vandelism is happening at night so lets take very low light into consideration.

LPC cameras, pretty much as a rule, have built in IR illuminators, so night time should not be a problem, especially if it's a rear plate and glare is not as much of an issue (see our headlights test report).

The distance, though, is a concern, as the $1300 icrealtime camera only is only spec'd for 16 feet range (and typically manufacturers are liberal with such specs).

The Digital Watchdog one claims 13 - 30 feet range and is half the price.

That said, we have not tested any analog LPC cameras so take my suggestions with appropriate skepticism.

We've had good results with the Digital Watchdog cameras, with acceptable performance up just over 35 feet.

However, nothing is 100%, so be careful about managing expectations. In this case, dirty plates, dented plates, plates maybe blocked by spare tires on the back and cars just at the wrong angle.

Or even intentionally obscured plates, since it sounds like its the same perp(s).

In that case they probably drive by during daylight to 'admire' their work and would likely be expecting counter measures and possibly notice any new security work.

Perhaps a good use for a big ol' dummy camera mounted carnival style, looking straight across the road with two covert lpr's ready to catch the whole event... Provides cover for any wiring/work. Hard to resist for any self-respecting mailbox basher.


Some thoughts:

Are any of your customers neighbors experiencing similar difficulties?

Do the lights on his mailbox get clubbed on specific nights, or is it random?

What other close-by locations (not on the mailbox itself) could a camera be mounted and powered from?

I tend to agree with Chris's comment about the punks being on alert for countermeasures that can be observed during the day time. As your customer is a frequent victim, I'm sure the punks are aware of the angst they are causing your customer and are enjoying their spree. However, this is what makes them vulnerable to being caught too... :)

However, if the punks see any countermeasures, they might just avoid that target - for awhile. There are plenty of other targets they could find. But they will probably still come back 6 months later - further infuriating your customer.

If the customer already has overview cameras, then capturing the plate as it approaches the batters box (the mailbox) would be good enough evidence when used in conjunction with the time-stamped overview cameras. If you can mount the LPC cam down the block (on the approach side) the punks will be less likely to notice.

This is a problem widespread problem throughout the subdivision. Over 40 houses all have the same style lights, brick structures on both sides of driveway. One side has a mailbox. They each have lights on top of them. About 30 % of the lights in the neighborhood are destroyed.

This particular customer has replaced his lights twice in the last 6 months. He wants to be the neighborhood hero. The attacks are random. There is no where else I can see to mount cameras. the house is about 60 feet back from the road. The only other place to mount cameras would be to install a pole in the ground but that would be really obvious. The mailbox has vegatation growing on the back side so Im thinking of installing the cameras off the back side pointing torward the street. Only the lense would be visible.

The customer is not interested in deterance. In his own words " I want someone to prosecute!".

I recently bought some Geovision LPR camera’s after this discussion. I got the GV-Hybrid LPR Camera 10R for $862 which for me was very inexpensive to get LPC. The camera’s just flat out worked. I was skeptical because of the price But I am very happy with the results that I am getting. They offer an analog single lane camera but I don’t know if it would integrate with the VMS. Looks like they are available online for ~$570.

Amos, thanks for the feedback. Good to hear!

I have been meaning to go back and post some results in that thread. Just haven't done it yet

I know of a nearby homeowner association that had trouble with skateboarders in a drained swimming pool. They stuck two of these on trees adjacent to the parkinglot entrances:

We covered Reconyx in this note.

They had initially asked to have LPC cameras mounted on a nearby building to run to their DVR, but that would have resulted in a poor FoV. Having the flexibility to mount on trees got the camera much closer to the target. They used the cameras to track down two different groups of teenagers (they got good images of plates), and the vandalism has stopped.

That's an interesting idea, especially in a situation where you do not need to have real time access. Btw, Reconyx has a specialized LPC model.

Can you mount the camera in a car parked nearby. I had a similar problem with the theft of mail and i concealed the camera in a trash can set by the curb (complete with "garbage"). Fortunately, it was not emptied, but it did capture a marvelous image. Did not catch the guy because the guy never came back. Also, try putting the cameras where the suspect has to travel rather than on the same property. Then use a house mounted camera with a telephoto lens and a long range IR to catch the act itself as it goes down. You may also be able to put the camera in a car parked in the driveway.

Just some thoughts...

Can you recommend a good long range IR camera. The area is pretty much black dark. I need a camera that can provide good images at 100ft. Most of the cameras I have tried cant cut it.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: Capture License Plates 100 Feet Away - What Should I Use?

Keith, good question, I created a new discussion dedicated to answering that.

For a more budget-friendly solution, how about this LPC posted a short while back? Since you don't need an encoder, that keeps cost down even further. I have one for testing purposes, but haven't had a chance to get it up and running yet.


I am Allan from Bosch Tech support.

I have not seen note of this but would recomend if possible.

One thing I would recomend of the recorder to record in 2 CIF to prevent interlace problems.

You would hate to record the event and not be able to read the license plate becaus of interlacing problems.