What's A Safe Location For An LPC Camera In A Leafy Cul-De-Sac?

A customer would like a license plate capture camera but is concerned it will be deliberately damaged. I'm wondering what methods exist to protect such cameras as most of them aren't cheap.

The customer has several office buildings along a cul-de-sac. He would like to capture the licence plates of cars as they approach the buildings. Due to trees planted along the the sides of the road, any camera would need to be low down to see under the lowest branches which are barely above head height. It would also need to be located very close to the kerb otherwise the tree trunks will block the view. Mounting a camera high up on a building won't work as it will just look down on the dense tree canopies.

I don't think there is any choice other than to locate the camera at about chest height and close to the kerb. Given that, can anyone suggest how such a camera might be protected from deliberate attempts to rotate it so it's pointing at something useless or from damage? Thank you for your ideas!

"how such a camera might be protected from deliberate attempts to rotate it"

In general, that's a reason people choose domes over bullets. Purpose built LPC cameras are almost always bullets but you can take a higher end integrated IR dome and frequently get it to work (e.g., LPC shootout and Low Cost LPC Shootout).

Btw, it might be tempting to try a covert camera but the limited lensing options and almost always color only makes that very risky.

Thanks very much John. I had hoped to use a dedicated LPC camera as they "just work" but perhaps I should consider a dome in this case. I hadn't considered a covert camera because most of them are not rated for outdoor use and also their low light capabilities are usually pretty poor. I think I'll follow your suggestion of a dome camera.

There's definitely more risk and time when using a non LPC specific dome.

If you use a true LPC box or bullet, you might be able to build some form of covert housing around, I don't know, put it inside a mailbox or something, just thinking out loud!

Thanks for another helpful suggestion John. The office has a sign with the company name out near the kerb so I might be able to hide the LPC camera there.

Hi John, given the leafy nature of the area, the appearance of a bird box or possum box would fit in and would also hide the camera nicely. However any IR illuminators would need to be located elsewhere so as not to draw attention to the camera in the bird box.

Could I suggest you look at sourcing an ANPR bollard or fabricating something similar? There are a number of products around, some can take a range of cameras and IR LEDs - here's a UK one. Of course it will be more expensive and you'll need to get cables across which will potentially mean civil work (digging up the sidewalk!) but it would be robust and long term.

From member Frank Potempa:

"We have fabricated 12 gauge perforated enclosures surrounding the camera. The lens portion has just enough of an opening so as not to impair the imaging.

The housing has allowed the camera to perform without interruption. We painted The enclosure to match the surface the camera was mounted to. It is perforated too as to allow heat buildup to escape. We had other items such as power meters and breaker panels that were all exterior. Our distributive NVR cabinets were all exterior.

The neighborhood was a low income housing community. It all worked out great and the community was able to capture a great amount of surveillance which assisted local law enforcement with the judicial system."

Thank you Undisclosed 1, John and Frank. The steel housing idea has merit but the appearance would need to be right to not attract too much attention. I'll have to think about that.

I agree with the contributors who propose steel solutions. My choice would be a 4" steel pipe firmly planted in a concrete foundation and filled with concrete as my mounting pole. I would go to my local welding shop and have them fabricate an enclosure suitable for the application and the neighborhood crime. Paint the whole contraption to blend in as just another utility sticking out of the ground. it won't be cheap, but it will stand the test of time - as it will be built as strong as a brick - ahem, lets just say: a brick ... house of unpleasing smells that we have to be periodically visit. and oh yeah, doesn't have a flush handle!

Thank you Rob, this is a good idea and I just have to try to balance the level of protection with the aesthetics of the area so it doesn't look like a WWII pillbox.

I found a number of these by searching camera bollard images.

Hi Jim, thanks for your tip. I'm now finding some quite promising products by searching on security camera bollard. Thanks again!

If your customer has the budget and the stomach, fabricating something substantial is definitely the way to go.

If not, I'll just throw this out there for ridicule:

LPR TrailCam w/camoflauge tree mount

Wifi SD card (I'm assuming there's wifi available.)

< $750

Hi Undisclosed 2, thank you for mentioning the SM750 HyperFire License Plate Camera. I think it has great potential, especially if disguised in the HyperFire Cable Box. The WiFi SD card is an interesting idea. There is also a cellular version of this camera. Many thanks!

I'd like to thank everyone who's posted in this thread. You've come up with more ideas and novel ideas than I had hoped for. I've now got several options for the customer which is great as I was struggling to solve this problem. Thank you IPVM and members!

I would also consider some solution that can detect and report loss of video or tampering. If you don't know the camera is out of service, the only time you will find it out is when you need the info.

Surprised nobody's mentioned a speed-bump camera yet: http://www.eaglevision1.com/speed_strip_camera.htm

(This is just an example I found through a Google search, this is not a recommendation of this product.)

Just spoke with Eaglevision, they said they stopped making it because it had too many problems, big trucks, weather conditions, etc.

They did recommend putting a camera in a bird house and that you could customize that.

Thank you for finding out John. It sounds like their product hit a bump in the road.

*insert rimshot*

Thanks Matt, I was aware of that product from an IPVM post some time ago. However I never liked the idea because simple things like rain, dirt and oil from vehicles would be likely to settle on top of the upwards-facing cameras. However it was a clever idea for places where there were no other options.

What's the local flora, fauna?

Would a CactEye draw any attention?

Kinda obvious, but if protected by legal barbed wire (aka thorns), it might not be a fun target...

Given the location is in an industrial park in Australia, a cactus would seem rather out of place although I like the idea. Maybe the camera could be disguised in a Minion?