Home Camera Installation
Home Camera Installation, photo credit @stuart.renn via Twenty20

Home security cameras have been all the rage over the last decade or so.  Admittedly, there was a time when I thought I would buy at least six or so of them and “protect my home”.  The more I’ve learned and the more I’ve dealt with home security cameras, the less I see their usefulness.  I will stay in low crime neighborhoods rather than hunkering down with security systems and cameras.

Now seemed as good a time as any to explain why I didn’t install home security cameras and reasons why you might want to forgo them as well.

An Indicator of an Unsafe Neighborhood

Firstly, the ONE THING every home with a multitude of security cameras screams is: I live in an unsafe neighborhood.  Every passerby notices them and thinks, even if subconsciously, this is a high-crime area.  Not to mention, these systems are often a red flag to a home buyer.  Additionally, there is little research to suggest that home security cameras will increase your property’s value.

Compounding the impression of a high-crime neighborhood, police response times can be very low.  Response times are so low (even if you’re not asleep when the criminal shows up on the camera), don’t expect a police response to arrive for at least seven to 10 minutes.  That’s an eternity when there’s a burglar or assailant on your property.  If you live in a larger cit let’s say Las Vegas, for example, your wait time times can average between 30 and 45 minutes.

Oh, and there’s the technology aspect of it all.  Let’s also not forget home security cameras can be easy to disable. I’ve known of customers who “hard-wired” power to their cameras.  Uhh…okay.  The problem with this is the assumption the burglar won’t simply cut the camera wire or turn off the home power at the breaker panel – which is outside the home in some cases.  I’m speaking of the amateur burglar at this point.  A system like Nest, Ring, etc. is no match for a professional burglar in the first place.

Moving on, this also ignores “snatch and grabs”.  What good is a six-camera system with a doorbell camera if a burglar can mask, strike quickly, and be long gone before the camera sends the notice to a mobile phone and the owner has time to call the police?  This drastically eliminates the opportunity for a criminal to be captured.

More than likely, someone burglarizing your home will wear a mask rendering the video captured by the security camera much less useful even once it’s provided to the police.

Arms Race

We’ve established that the homeowner falls into one of two camps.  They either live in a high-crime neighborhood or are simply living in fear of potential crime.  Nevertheless, they’ve installed or will be installing home security cameras.  What many homeowners don’t think about when undertaking this task is the security camera installation can create an “arms race”.  As one neighbor fortifies their home with cameras it often hints to other neighbors they should install the equipment as well.  It’s self-perpetuating and, before you know it, there are cameras everywhere

Lot’s of cameras in many locations isn’t that odd in say, London, however, who wants to live in a place where they pass from one camera to the next doing something so simple as taking their dog for a walk?  Moreover, good luck when selling the home.  All prospective home buyers and agents will notice the proliferation of cameras throughout your community.

Loss of Privacy

Many critics of security camera systems have taken offense to them being placed on homes and argue that doing so implies that the homeowner has either already assumed or is convinced that crime is imminent.  Step back and think about it: installing cameras in and around your home can make your family, neighbors, and friends feel like they’ve lost privacy.

Don’t forget your HOA!  If you live in a home owner’s association, before an owner considers installing a security camera, they should consult the association’s bylaws and declaration. Almost every association has verbiage that requires a homeowner to obtain approval of any improvement or change to the exterior of their property.  Installing surveillance cameras would be subject to these requirements. Failure to obtain written approval could result in fines and legal action against the homeowner.

Deterrence?  Or Evidence Gatherers?

Cameras by themselves do not make a property secure.  Home invasions aren’t typically perpetrated by local residents, therefore burglars are less concerned about cameras. Think of all the Nest videos you’ve seen where a crook or creep looks right at a security camera, but still burglarizes the home or commits a crime.

Home security cameras make it possible for homeowners to record footage for later viewing.  Home security cameras cannot, however, stop a crime in progress.  Just think, they don’t even alert neighbors or the police like an alarm system would.

Cameras also don’t guarantee you’ll catch the thief.

Many homeowners are excited at the opportunity to have footage of a criminal, however, even if the footage captures the face(s) of criminals, it’s no guarantee they’ll be apprehended.  If prevention is the objective, the homeowner is best to install an alarm system then potentially add cameras later.  60% of criminals interviewed said they would pass over a home with an alarm system not because the home had cameras.  I recommend ADT, and they’ll even give you a free security review.  I’ve used them for years and, with the service I have, I accidentally set off my alarm and two armed ADT men were at my home in less than 10 minutes.

Vulnerabilities

At the end of 2019, hackers were able to access sensitive personal information from Ring users and take control of more than 3,600 Ring devices. In some cases, hackers even accessed cameras inside people’s homes.

Typically, homeowners do their best to stay up to date on the latest in security systems and technology, however, criminals are staying up to date as well.  A smart criminal will know all about your cameras and know how to bypass or disable them.

Thinking worst-case scenario, a criminal might hack your security cameras and use them to spy on you instead.

Cost

Moreover, I wouldn’t call a camera system expensive, but I wouldn’t call it cheap either.  A six-camera Nest outdoor system will run north of $600, even more with the installation.  Meanwhile, most homeowners think nothing of their maintenance, future cost, or potential replacement.  The added cost to the home.

Conclusion

If you live in a high crime place, we get it, cameras can be necessary and a deterrent.  If you don’t, and you’re just considering, you should give some serious consideration to how expansive home camera systems affect you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors.