According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, burglary is one of the most widespread crimes in the country. Identifying the perpetrators and helping the police convict criminals is tough, even with the help of an eye witness. Security cameras in your home can be of great assistance in aiding the police, as well as giving your peace of mind.
As a person who has lived in some of the more ‘up and coming’ areas of London, I am no stranger to intruders. I once found a rather charming behatted gentleman on my property, helping himself to the contents of my modest conservatory. I still get goose-bumps thinking about that incident. At around midnight, I arrived home from a work event when the rest of the household was asleep. I heard a noise and assumed it was the family cat attempting to get out through a small top-opener of the window. Muttering internally that someone had been too lazy or forgetful to close and lock it, I went out to the back of the house to investigate the source of the fumbling sounds.
In true horror-movie style, I was heading right towards an invader. I don’t know why I didn’t think to go upstairs and call out to my husband first for backup. I suppose I really was just expecting to find a frustrated kitty pawing at the double-glazing. However, kitty wasn’t there, and the back door was ajar. By now I was pretty cross with my husband, ‘he must have gone to bed without locking up!’.
I found our ‘guest’ crouching just outside the back door with a bag of swag at his feet. Shocked, I stood frozen to the spot. He slowly stood up, looked me in the eye, put his finger to his lips and said ‘Ssshhhh’. Many thoughts race through your head when you feel so vulnerable and threatened. Should I shout for help or should I be quiet? I decided not to give him a reason to silence me, I slammed the door shut and sprinted in the house, by now I had changed my mind and decided I wanted the intruder to know I was not alone. I yelled for my husband and sprinted like I have never sprinted before!
Luckily, our uninvited guest was as surprised to see me as I was to see him and he fled back into the darkness of the alleyway that backed onto our garden at the same rate I went fleeing into my house. This one was an opportunist, but was only interested in robbery and not in causing personal harm. But from now on, I will not go personally investigating the bumps in the night like an overly-eager TV cop, especially not on my own. In the US, the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report has stated that in approximately 28 percent of burglary cases, a household member was at home. Even more worrying is that in seven percent of cases, household members were the victims of violence.
How I became a security camera buff
I couldn’t help but think that if I had had the right security system, I could have checked that back door from a distance without putting myself in danger. We might also have been able to give the police something useful. But my vague description of a bad man in a hat fell well below par and there was little they could do. We did have a motion detection system, but that was switched off if anyone was home. Even if it had been armed, it may have made our burglar abandon his mission, but it wouldn’t help the police with their investigation for the breaking and entering, or help them secure a conviction. My new resolve was to find an effective way to help not only deter burglars, but also to help identify them if the worse should happen. Here are the results of my own research:
Improve the chances of your home security system catching and convicting intruders
Choose a security camera system with a live-feed so you don’t walk into the path of danger
Include night cameras (my intruder’s face would have been more visible to a night camera than to my own naked eye)
Make sure your cameras capture high-resolution images. Court convictions depend on identification beyond reasonable doubt
Place cameras at both the front and the back of the property
Do not place them too high up- in court, the picture must capture the intruder so that they are identifiable to help with a conviction
Set up obvious cameras as deterrents and discreet cameras to capture useable footage
Twenty-five percent of burglars cut security system wires. Go for wireless security systems.
Since my first-hand experience, I would never consider going without home security cameras again. Choosing the right security camera setup and configuration for your home is just one part of the solution. For other crime prevention advice and tips, have a look at this helpful guide from the Australian Police. Although I feel lucky that my experience was non-violent, it was traumatic. Stay vigilant, take precautions and minimise the risks to the safety of you, your home and your family.