Would You Recommend Signage Warning Of A Surveillance System, Or Not?

I installed a camera system on a house and placed signs at several locations alerting others to the presence of cameras. Well, yesterday a burglar broke-into the house next door. They moved two of my cameras so they would not be seen carrying goods into a shared alley. I got video of them moving the cameras so it partly worked against them as evidence. To prevent future tampering I am going to put protective housing around some of the cameras.

However, this also brings up the issue of whether I should keep the surveillance warning signs up, or take them down? There are also signs about the presence of a monitored security system, so maybe that is enough.


Terry, regarding the signs, what are your concerns? Is it a legal / liability issue or?

Hi John, the only concern I have is whether an intruder will modify their tactics to avoid being seen by a camera.

It seems like there is a tradeoff of

(1) Deterring bad behavior by warning bad guys there are cameras to catch them

vs.

(2) Providing the bad guys with the information about the presence of cameras, so they can hide their face before they begin bad behavior.

I think I got lucky this time. The vandals/thieves were caught on camera before they noticed them, then jumped up and moved the cameras to avoid being watched while they moved stolen goods.

If there were no signs, I don't think they would have seen the cameras because they are painted to match the background and blend in well.

Signs are not required in the US and if this is your home, I doubt there's any expectation that you should put up a sign.

People generally put up signs as a deterrent, i.e., if the potential intruder sees the sign, they may choose another house. There likely is some deterrent value in that.

Professional criminals typically assume that there are cameras somewhere all the times, ergo they tend to cover their faces or look down, etc. And then there are the guys who hit your neighborhood who might be amateurs and will get caught before they do anything to the cameras.

All in all, you could go either way, but I think there is a net benefit of using the signs as a deterrent.

First and foremost, check what your State law says about it. Second, you have signs now and the burglars robbed the neighbors. Sounds like the signs worked pretty well to me. I would also ask my neighbors what they think if we are on speaking terms, but I live in the sticks. You sound like the homeowner so my advice is to protect your home using every reasonable method.

Yes, I am the home owner. The neighbor was very thankful to have footage of the thieves. The police also liked having the video. I did not think to ask whether signs are needed which say there are cameras present, but can find out.

Dovetailing Mark's comment above: I think the intent of signage regulations were not originally to deter, but to divulge.

Once upon a time, video surveillance was fairly uncommon. Notifying the public cameras were in use up front was a better alternative that someone discovering a camera and accusing you of 'privacy violations' or being a creep or some such thing.

For a private residence, I doubt any signage regulations apply.

Cameras should be sited so that they provide mutually supporting fields of view. In other words, It should be impossible to approach and interfere with a camera without being viewed and recorded by another camera. If you're going to have signage, you'll want the signs to be within the field of view of at least one camera, at a high enough PPF to ensure facial recognition, because those signs are irresistable to idiot high school boys and sending their parents video of their sons stealing your signs is always good for a laugh.

While signs won't deter the 'professional' burglars- that is, people who plan a burglary, and who commit burglary on a semi-regular basis- it may well make your local meth addict nervous enough to decide to go and bother your neighbor instead. Studies show that 60% of burglars decide against carrying out a burglary if they detect the presence of an alarm system. I do not know specifically what affect surveillance camera signs have on would-be burglars, because, as you can see from this thread, they aren't very common, but I would conclude that it probably has a similiar effect.

Excellent points. Most of the cameras work in pairs with opposing and overlapping FOV. In this situation it happened exactly as you describe. While the thief was moving one camera, the other watched him do it. He made the mistake of looking TOWARDS the camera while moving the other one, which provided a good face shot!

Thanks for the PPF article. I have 3MP cameras but have not done the PPF calculations.

I remember reading the study you mention but had lost the link. I'll print this out for my neighbor.

Were these the bullets that you wanted to prevent from tampering? Domes will fix this.

Yes, I started two discussion threads to address a couple of issues that came up after the burglary.

On that note, one of the burglars/vandals has been identified thanks to someone posting on Facebook the still images I provided.

Excellent! That is always gravy.

No. While it is "great advertisement", it can turn into a nightmare, such as cops getting accustomed to coming to you for video, or the chance of you getting pulled into court as owner of the camera system.

I put one of those house number reflective signs out infront of my one house out in the country, and it attracted break ins, so I took it down.

Undisclosed A: Just curious, but what were your experiences in regards to the house numbers "attracted break ins?" Since the house is in the country, I'm assuming that the signage attracted attention to a house that most never knew was even there..??

House is behind a thin tree line but there's a mailbox at the road. As soon as I put up one of those green reflective house number signs for emergency people to find it, I starred having issues. The sign looks like mile marker signs on the side of the highway. I took it down and it reduced problems. The problems I have had, we're caught on camera and we were able to prosecute off of the video. Neighbor has alarm signs in front and back yard and still gets hit.