ORLANDO, Fla. - It seems as if, every day, there's a new story about home surveillance video that exists of a crime or that has helped catch a criminal.
If you don't already have security cameras for your home, you may want to consider them. And if you do, are you utilizing them the best way?
We've come up with some tips to help make sure you have the best possible coverage of your home.
Before you even purchase a system, there are a few features you want to consider while researching the equipment you'll need, according to Safety.com.
- Live, remote monitoring: Easily check in on your home using your security system’s mobile app or a web browser.
- Activity alerts: Receive real-time alerts via email, text, push notification or phone call if your security camera picks up any suspicious activity.
- Cloud storage: Security footage is stored in the cloud, making it tamper-proof and easy to access and share.
- Panning and zooming capabilities: Most cameras allow users to pan, tilt and zoom through the security system’s app or web browser.
- Two-way voice communication: Use your security device’s built-in speaker and microphone to hear what’s going on in your home and communicate with whoever is there.
- Multichannel recording: Monitor multiple rooms in your home using a multichannel security system.
- Tamper alerts: The security camera sends an alert when someone interferes with it.
- Night vision: Record at night using cameras equipped with infrared technology.
You'll also need to decide if you want a wired system or a Wi-Fi-enabled wireless system. Both have pros and cons. If you have strong Wi-Fi and don't mind changing batteries, a wireless system might work, especially if you're really not into running wires. If you don't have strong Wi-Fi, a wireless system won't do you much good. A wired system would be more reliable but a wireless system is generally easier to install, and you may have more maneuverability.
Once you choose your system, the big question is: Where do you place the cameras?
Angie Hefner, of Global Alarms, said knowing where to put cameras is critical.
The first location she recommended is above the garage.
"We want to see the cars driving by, we want to see the people walking down the street, and we want to see people as they walk up the driveway,” Hefner said. “We want to pay attention to our cars.”
Then, she said, you need one by the front door.
"We want it at eye level,” said Hefner. “We don't want it mounted up high where we are getting the top of a baseball cap or all we're getting is sunglasses. We really want a good face shot.”
For this reason, we're seeing a lot more Ring doorbell video. Of course, if a criminal notices the camera is there, they can reach it and potentially disable it, which we have also seen. But a camera at that level definitely increases your chance of a clearly identifiable shot.
Finally, Hefner recommends two cameras in the back -- one by the back door and the other facing the backyard.
Hefner said the cameras in the back should be motion-activated.
"When the camera detects movement within 15 feet of the camera, it’s going to send me an email notification," Hefner said.
If you have the budget and can get more cameras, here are some additional things to consider:
- Other than the camera at the front door, you can consider higher angles, where the wall meets the roof. Consider the type of lens the camera has to get the best effect. Safety.com points out that wide-angle lenses record wider viewing areas, but objects within that area will appear smaller. Narrow lenses record narrower views, but objects within that view will appear larger.
- If you're putting cameras indoors, consider cameras that would get a clear view of someone coming in an entrance, or of a heavily trafficked area of the home. Placing cameras in rooms with valuables in them is also something to think about.
- Outdoor cameras should be protected as best as possible from the elements, and should be placed out of reach, with perhaps the exception of a doorbell camera. If a protective covering is available to prevent vandalism, that's not a bad idea.
- Cameras that work with apps can provide greater peace of mind because in some cases, you can access or change angles with them.
- Make sure the areas in which you're placing cameras are well-lit, especially at night. Some cameras come with night vision or infrared sensors.
The most important tip is: If you catch criminal activity on your camera, alert police immediately. People often post the video on Facebook and while word-of-mouth can help identify a suspect, police should always be notified as well.
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