It’s true. Security cameras can help catch “porch pirates” in the act, and if the cameras are visible, they maybe act as a deterrent preventing package theft (on the other hand, read: “Police Chief: Security Cameras don’t help fight crime.“). In the best case scenario, a would-be bandit sees the camera and decides to move along to your neighbor’s house. More realistically, the camera catches a blurry image of the thief making off with your package. Maybe you’ll be able to identify the person based on the image, but a quick google image search of “package theft” dashes that hope. Even if the police do an investigation (they’ve got higher priorities and possibly won’t), and the footage helps, they’d need to catch the thief before they sell your goods on Craigslist (they’ve already sold it on Craigslist). Even though surveillance cameras don’t really help, lots of people invest in them to protect their property, and the sense of security they provide is nice. For those folks, there are a couple approaches: conspicuous and inconspicuous (or hidden and visible).
In the first case, the camera is meant to be seen and acts as a deterrent. The idea is that if a would-be thief sees the camera, they’re less likely to try anything. While this might work in theory, for me it’s hard to see surveillance cameras and not think of police states like those in V for Vendetta or (if you’re old enough to remember it) the world of big brother. Plus, I for one don’t want to look like that paranoid neighbor with conspicuous surveillance cameras all around my house. Just saying…
The other option is hidden security cameras. Definitely, the better-looking choice if you’re going for the “friendly neighbor” look, but these cameras don’t deter a thief. Instead, they rely on footage being useful evidence after the fact (good luck). Then, you still have to go through the process of tracking down a stolen package. We’ll be talking about this process at length in other posts. In short, the process may leave you wondering if it’s worth the value of your package.
In any case, security cameras can easily be tricked by, say a hoodie or baseball cap or a $3 ski mask (available on Amazon, but no free overnight shipping…so plan ahead). Let’s say the camera does catch the thief in the act. If they’ve disguised themselves, you’re out of luck. Even if the thief doesn’t see the camera or doesn’t take precautions, according to studies security cameras make little difference. With face recognition technologies, it might be possible that security footage could become more useful in the future, but it’s still a long shot.
Security cameras might seem to be useful deterrents, but generally speaking, they’re not tremendously effective and easy enough to circumvent (remember, ski masks). The worst part, and the thing we should be really concerned with is the false sense of security these cameras can provide. If that sense of security is valuable to you, then install cameras, but don’t expect them necessarily to effectively protect you. If you really want to prevent crimes like package theft, it might be worth looking for other strategies and solutions. After all, we don’t really want to catch a “porch pirate” after it’s too late, right? We want to prevent the theft from ever happening, and The Package Guard does just that.