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After an alarming uptick in automotive and household burglaries, Our neighborhood is chatting about installing video cameras on their houses.

I'm looking for research that shows whether or not they work as a deterrent. Does crime leave the neighborhood, just move in-between the lenses, or do criminals ignore them? What is the saturation level that they need to reach in order to be effective - does everybody need to have them, or will every-third-house be enough?

There's a lot about public systems, but I'm looking for specific numbers, for deterrence, for home systems. "Common sense" would suggest that cameras are more effective at deterrence than public systems, but I would like to test that hypothesis.

  • Maybe somebody has combined the postcard "registrations" from people who have installed a system, to crime level changes in an area. Some statistics from LAPD about crimes solved with clues from residential cameras? – JTW Jun 11 '15 at 21:59
  • I live in an apartment building so that is my landlord's problem. However, I do walk around a bit and have observed many houses have small little flags "Protected by Acme", "Protected by ABC", etc. The wide variety of providers suggests that it was not a group decision, but a large number of individual decisions. If I was a thief and did not know anything other than one house was claimed to be protected and the other was not, I would burglar the unprotected house, but then again I am not a thief. – emory Mar 21 '16 at 23:54
  • @emory it is a problem if the landlord is the one stealing – Richie Frame Mar 21 '16 at 23:56
  • Our cameras did not serve as a deterrent. They caught three kids spray-painting on our wall. We passed the video around the neighborhood and identified the people. Two were adults (18) and were charged with felony vandalism and criminal trespass, and held on $20,000 bail. The minor was also charged, along with smoking and littering because he was being a dick, but released to his parents. Cameras are now seen by our neighborhood as a strong deterrent to repeats of this sort of incident - but this is just a data point, not a study. Where is the science? – JTW May 2 '16 at 16:49
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Studies show that the deterrent effect of security cameras is minimal.

Moreover, the question is whether are you trying to deter crime in the whole neighborhood or just in your house. If it's the latter, it makes sense to put up a CCTV in your home if other people haven't -- this will likely shift the interest of the burglars from your home to your neighbors'.

If it's the former, hiring a security guard to roam the neighborhood would probably be better in terms of cost/benefits. A neighborhood watch program might also be effective.

Yet, this largely depends on which country/city you live. The local police, knowing the territory, should be able to give you good advice.

  • Thanks. We have neighborhood watch, and we are considering private security. We were hoping cameras would shift attention from our whole neighborhood. Have you seen any studies about neighborhood watch working with private cameras? – JTW Jun 11 '15 at 20:59
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    There is one case in which CCTV was found to be quite efficient in the literature review done by Gill and Spriggs (2005): car parking lots. Having CCTV in parking lots would displace car theft. As for home burglaries, a mere 2% reduction in burglaries was observed with the introduction of CCTV, hardly warranting the cost of maintaining and operating them. – Steve Dodier-Lazaro Jun 15 '15 at 13:19

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