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Do people act differently in public if they see a security camera on a streetlight above?  Do they not jaywalk?  Do they think twice about dropping that sandwich wrapper on the ground?  These are relatively minor offenses, of course.

Pictured above is a bullet style infrared security camera

We already know security cameras affect the way we drive.   This is because the cameras on the highways and roads lead right to our wallets—citations are being issued, fines are being paid and insurance surcharges follow.

But what about the serious stuff?  A brief article in Security Systems News magazine discussed a study that was done by the Urban Institute regarding the impact of security cameras on neighborhood crime in city settings.  The following details were taken from that November 2011 article.

We’ll jump right to the conclusion: the success depends on how they’re set up and monitored, says SSN’s article.  But for the most part, the cameras helped put a damper on crime.

Three cities were part of the study which was released in the fall of 2011:  Baltimore, Chicago and Washington.  The study indicated that there were “significant declines in total crime, violent crime and larceny downtown from January 2003 through April 2008” after Baltimore deployed over 500 security cameras in 2005.

It was found that for every dollar the city spent on video surveillance, it saved $1.50.

The report indicated that the investment in video was worth it in Chicago as well.  In fact, Chicago saved much more per dollar spent—over four dollars.

The results weren’t as successful in Washington as the “cameras alone did not appear to have an effect on crime,” stated the report.  There are local city council restrictions on surveillance that were cited as a possible cause for this.

So overall, security cameras work.  Think about.  If you know you’re being recorded, it affects how you act.  The lack of success in Washington makes sense, there were restrictions.

And think of this, if you’re a business near other businesses, you may want to consider installing security cameras outside.  Thieves will see video surveillance at your location, look around, and see the lack of it elsewhere.  Most likely they'll move on.

We thank Security Systems News magazine for this story and the Urban Institute for the study.

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