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Do Security Cameras Deter Crime? Exploring Their Effectiveness in Securing Your Home

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
A man viewing home security camera footage on two computer monitors.
Do security cameras actually deter crime, or are they just silent watchers? I can provide insights and guidance to help you understand the effectiveness of security cameras in crime prevention.

As a home security systems expert with decades of experience, I've tested many cameras over the years. Still, I know a lot of homeowners are wondering if they really work.

If you're considering adding security cameras to protect your property but are unsure, let's explore an evidence-based perspective. We'll examine how security cameras can prevent crime, specifically in residential settings.

» Check out our best outdoor and indoor security cameras.

Do Security Cameras Deter Crime?

Research shows that security cameras can help reduce crime in public areas and homes. For example, studies by Welsh and Farrington from 2007 to 2018 indicate that security cameras generally lower crime rates by about 24%, particularly for car theft, burglaries, and drug-related offenses.

Also, a cost-benefit analysis found that surveillance cameras help prevent roughly 575 crimes a year, with 75 of them being displaced to nearby areas at a cost of $1 million.

Below is a table detailing the percentage of burglars who admit they would avoid a house if they noticed certain deterrents according to the UNC Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology:

Steel Bars
The Presence of People Nearby
Police Nearby
People Inside

Overall, these analyses suggest that security cameras can decrease illegal activities and make communities safer. The numbers vary, but the pattern is clear—cameras can deter criminals and are an effective way to protect your home, even while on vacation.

Data suggests that security cameras can decrease illegal activities and make communities safer

What Makes Security Cameras Effective?

Several key factors make security cameras effective at stopping crime, including:


Visible security cameras often scare away potential criminals who don't want to risk having their faces caught on video. Studies reveal that 83% of burglars also scout for alarm systems before breaking in. If they see alarms, they tend to look elsewhere.

Visible cameras have the same effect—they warn robbers that it's better to find an easier target. Also, outdoor cameras that can withstand the weather, like those from ADT, signal that a property has its defenses up.


From my experience, cameras work better when someone watches the live feed because criminals know they can get caught more easily. So, when security cameras, like the ones from Vivint, send out motion alerts, they help scare off potential burglars because they know people can use the video to identify them.

Basically, the more ways a criminal can be recorded on camera, the less likely they are to show signs that your house is marked or cased. Having someone watch the feeds and being able to receive alerts makes your security system much more effective at stopping crime.


Security camera footage is crucial for police investigations, as it provides strong evidence to solve crimes. Detectives can analyze the footage to gather crucial details and identify perpetrators, which helps them catch and convict criminals.


If just a few houses in an area have cameras, burglars can still find places without monitoring to target. But, when most homes have cameras, it becomes riskier for crooks because it suggests that someone is always watching.

Protected houses can record their actions whenever they try to commit crimes. So, even if a camera doesn't stop a crime right away, having it there can scare off people from doing something wrong later.

The Limitations of Security Cameras

Experience has also taught me that there are limitations to relying on security cameras as an anti-crime tactic. Here's why:


While cameras may initially deter crime, their impact can lessen over time as criminals get used to their presence. This can make them less effective and might shift crime to areas without cameras.

However, Deep Sentinel helps with this by using artificial intelligence (AI) and round-the-clock monitoring. It checks your video feed with AI to spot possible dangers, offering a dynamic solution that adapts to changing criminal tactics.

Poor Installation and Maintenance

If you don't place security cameras carefully, they may not work as well as they should. That's why, when installing security cameras in your home, you want to choose locations that cover important areas without any hidden corners. You should also consider the camera's view to avoid obstructions like trees or signs.

Additionally, keeping your cameras clean and in good working order is crucial. Regularly give them a wipe-down to remove any dust, and check the system occasionally to ensure everything works properly.

» Find out which states have the highest burglary rates.

a tablet sitting on a table in a living room

How to Boost the Effectiveness of Security Cameras

Security cameras can help stop crimes, especially if you follow these best practices:

  • Choose high-resolution, night vision, and infrared cameras to get the clearest facial images possible, even in low light.
  • Position cameras prominently at entry/exit points on the property—where they're most likely to capture images of intruders.
  • Pair cameras with motion-activated security lighting to improve video quality at night when crimes are more common.
  • Use multiple camera types such as domes, bullets, and pan-tilt-zooms for diverse coverage angles.
  • Upload signs/stickers advertising "24-hour video surveillance" to boost the visible deterrent.
  • Enable instant notifications to get updates on suspicious activity detected on cameras.
  • Store video recordings for at least 30 days in case the police need footage for investigations.
  • Conduct periodic maintenance checks and test the cameras to address technical issues immediately.
  • Register cameras with local law enforcement to aid in identifying perpetrators of area crimes.

» Want to control all your security systems with just one app? Try Frontpoint Security.

How Visible Should Your Cameras Be?

While there are some benefits to installing discreet security cameras, such as the element of surprise, visible CCTV cameras provide the most effective deterrent. In fact, the US Department of Justice reports that for cameras to discourage crime, people need to see them.

Also, studies show that burglars often ignore hidden cameras when picking a place to rob. They're more put off by seeing cameras and security signs, which make them think there's a higher chance of getting caught.

So, strategically placing cameras where they're clearly visible maximizes their crime prevention capabilities. A combination of both obvious and discreet cameras may create an even stronger defense, though, making it harder for criminals to evade detection.

Security Cameras Can Deter Crime

If burglars and trespassers can see well-maintained security cameras, they're less likely to invade because they fear being caught. But security cameras are not a guaranteed solution to prevent all crime—they work best as part of a comprehensive home security strategy.

Adding lights and clear signage can make them even more effective. Also, using a trusted home security service with round-the-clock monitoring can help keep your home and family safer by enabling you to quickly react to any unusual activity.

» Follow these tips to choose the best home security system for your home.

Chris Wilson - Writer for Top10.com
Chris Wilson contributes to Top10.com as a CSPM with over 23 years of experience in the North American security market. His expertise includes system design, project management, and solutions engineering. Chris has written for SDM and Locksmith Ledger and co-published various blogs within the security industry.