Do Security Cameras Scare Burglars?

The goal of any home security system is to deter crime, theft, or intrusion. Having a home security camera on your property lets you view footage of any crime that may have been committed, like someone breaking a window in your absence. It also enables you to view any suspicious activity. We discuss the concept of whether home security cameras actually deter burglars.

Do Security Cameras Scare Burglars?

Do Security Cameras Scare Burglars?


There are several variables to consider when answering this question. Before we get into what studies have concluded, you should note that many criminals have become tech-savvy. Some systems are easier to hack than others, so security cameras won’t deter the crime if the criminal can figure out how to gain access. They’ll simply disable the system.


This tends to occur on systems that transmit using Wi-Fi. When purchasing this type of system, ensure that it is properly encrypted.


When purchasing a security system, you should look for one with a battery backup in case of a power failure. Hard wiring in a system may be nice, but if the power goes out, so does your entire system. Anyone who knows about your system or has watched it will know this is an opportune time for a break-in.


The reality is that a security camera will not deter 100% of crime. Most of the research indicates that overall crime is reduced. However, there are two sides to the story.


Studies that Support Cameras Are Effective

KTVB7 (a local Oregon television station) did an investigative report by interviewing 86 inmates convicted of burglary. Each of these inmates was serving time in the Oregon Department of Corrections. Upon asking them for information regarding their break-ins, they discovered most inmates would immediately leave upon hearing a security alarm.


Generally, they also discovered that security cameras did provide enough of a deterrent from entering a home. However, some equated homeowners who did have a security camera with valuables. They felt that if there was a camera, the house had valuables the homeowners wanted to protect.


What was a surefire deterrent? Interestingly, a big, loud, barking dog.


UNC Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology did a more extensive sampling with a study surveying 422 burglars in Ohio, Kentucky, and North Carolina. They discovered surveillance signs and outdoor cameras did act as a deterrent. About 60% of those surveyed indicated they would choose another location if they found a burglar alarm.


Half of the people said they would immediately leave if an alarm system were found while conducting a burglary.


The Urban Institute conducted a study placing cameras in Washington, Chicago, and Baltimore. When placed in downtown Baltimore, 500 cameras reduced crimes by 30 reports per month.


With the 8,000 cameras installed in Chicago, they saw a 12% reduction in crime. Regrettably, though, not all evidence was positive.


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Studies Indicating Security Cameras Are Ineffective

The same study conducted by the Urban Institute cited above also concluded that while crime decreased in those two areas, the equipment had its limitations. Some panned at the wrong moment, lost a visible picture during bad weather or at night, and didn’t fully capture events. This indicated that while it may have deterred crime, it wasn’t an entirely reliable method for capturing footage.


Queen’s University concluded functioning cameras prove to deter theft. By examining systems from 2001-2003, they discovered 168 technical failures preventing footage from being entered as admission for a criminal trial. While smart home technology has improved since then, many technical glitches still occur.


Interestingly, the Lincoln Police discovered that not all security cameras prevented crime. Some in a downtown bar did not provide enough evidence to identify the criminal, stop the crime, or support evidence. For some, despite the cameras being fully operational, 128 assaults were committed within 500 feet of them.


Is Hiding a Security Camera a Better Option?

When installing a security camera, some people envision keeping them hidden from view. Studies have concluded that if a criminal sees a property with a security camera, they are less likely to break into that home. Therefore, hiding a camera defeats the purpose of deterring crime. Keep cameras visible to prevent crimes from occurring as opposed to passively capturing footage.


How Can You Boost Its Effectiveness?

Do Security Cameras Scare Burglars


You can take several steps to boost your security system’s effectiveness.


  • Ensure your security cameras are clearly visible to criminals. This alerts them that there is an alarm system, and the property is probably not worth the risk.
  • Signs alongside a system offer a better deterrent. A full security system, including a visibly placed security sign, is better than a security camera alone.
  • Outdoor security lights with motion detectors shine a bright spotlight on any activity surrounding your house, making criminals easy to identify. Cameras like the Ring Spotlight Cam Pro, Battery contain a built-in spotlight. It will deter crime by providing a built-in audio system plus visual warnings from the camera.
  • Night vision is essential with cameras. If you don’t have security lights that help with color night vision, at the very least, you should have an infrared LED sensor to generate a clear picture at night.
  • Voices and sirens provide an active deterrent to scare burglars. For example, if they find that someone is loitering, a Smart Sentry system will turn on an LED light and play some music. Others are equipped with 104-decibel sirens to deter crime.
  • The system must also be durable. It needs to work well no matter the weather outdoors and be able to withstand the elements. You will need to check the system’s temperature range and IP rating.


The below YouTube Video will provide more information on how security cameras deter burglars:

Final Thoughts

Do security cameras deter burglars? Despite evidence that may cast a shadow over their effectiveness, functioning security cameras with the right features will act as a crime deterrent. No criminal wants to be captured on tape, identified, and caught. So, yes, security systems do scare away potential burglars.

However, many criminals know how to disarm a system or will look for an opportune time to strike, such as a power outage. Therefore, your system must contain a battery backup and a relatively hack-proof system. And if you’re still concerned about the security of your home…get a dog!


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