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#1
Old 07-08-2013, 11:42 AM
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How can I hide my security cameras but still get a good picture?

After being burgled twice, the beloved insisted on security cameras around the house. However, unless the criminals are incredibly stupid, all we will see is a masked face before the cameras are moved to where they won't see anything.

Is there any way to hide them, but still get a good picture to identify faces? Obviously, any type of mesh will not do, and as our house is all concrete, I can't hide them in the wall cavity.
#2
Old 07-08-2013, 12:30 PM
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Hidden cameras may help you get a good I.D., but cameras in plain view may also act as a good deterrent and prevent you from even needing an I.D. If your house is concrete, you most likely need a wireless multi-channel system. I suggest wireless assuming you don't have anywhere to hide wiring. If you do, though, a hardwired system may work better as I'm not sure how concrete may interfere with the camera's communication. Definitely consult an expert first.

Good hiding places may include behind a plant, in a bookcase (perhaps disguised in some way) or something like that.

Or you can opt for a hidden camera that looks like something else like a smoke alarm, a wall clock or an ordinary ceiling light.

Do you already have an alarm system? Whichever camera you select should be able to integrate with your current system.

Home Security Store has some affordable DIY options for cameras, alarms and other devices, which may help:

Cameras

Hidden Cameras

Good luck to you. Having been burglarized before, I know how bad it sucks to feel vulnerable in your own home.
#3
Old 07-08-2013, 12:30 PM
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Faux birdhouse?
#4
Old 07-08-2013, 12:38 PM
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Cameras come in all sorts of clever containers. Tissue boxes, radios, clocks etc. Things that sit on a table and never draw attention.

I haven't looked to see if wireless cameras are available in that stealth packing. Seems like they should be by now.

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-08-2013 at 12:39 PM.
#5
Old 07-08-2013, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Cameras come in all sorts of clever containers. Tissue boxes, radios, clocks etc. Things that sit on a table and never draw attention.
These are often called nanny cams


Quote:
cameras in plain view may also act as a good deterrent
this is also true. Of course, you can't prove a negative, so you may never know that you were not burgled. But it's worth considering.

Last edited by chappachula; 07-08-2013 at 01:01 PM.
#6
Old 07-08-2013, 01:57 PM
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We have visible "dome" cameras, as well as some hidden in bird houses, bird feeders, etc. Our garden - and my shed - are almost 60 yards back behind the house, and no one coming in the back would expect it, but they trip a motion alarm and an IR camera in a bluebird box.

After more burglaries nearby, we also added hi-res cameras down at the street, so every car on the street gets a face and tag shot.

While masked bandits are not exactly rare these days, you'd be surprised at how bold and brazen - and stupid - some burglars are. Something new I've seen is door peephole cameras. Folks just walk up to your door, and never know they're already being recorded.

Motion-sensing laser cannons are good, too.
#7
Old 07-08-2013, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ducati View Post

Motion-sensing laser cannons are good, too.
Especially if you are tired of the cat.
#8
Old 07-08-2013, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMarie View Post
If your house is concrete, you most likely need a wireless multi-channel system.
Wireless networks suck at penetrating concrete walls. Masonry bits and CAT5 are cheaper than The routers you are going to need to get decent bandwidth through masonry walls.

http://thisoldhouse.com/toh/arti...094325,00.html

Quote:
That's the second big challenge when setting up a Wi-Fi network: making sure the radio waves don't run into any obstacles. Everything blocks Wi-Fi signals a little. Wood, plaster, cinder blocks, and glass don't interfere much, but brick, stone, and water (think of that 30-gallon fish tank) can be more problematic. Worse still are ceramic, concrete, metal, and mirrors, which reflect visible light and radio waves alike.
#9
Old 07-08-2013, 04:45 PM
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Like ducati mentions, a "best of both words" solution might be a combination of obvious and not-so-obvious cameras. Deterrence (to the extent that you get any) from the obvious ones, and more likely coverage of the undeterred from the hidden cameras.

Of course, this would probably roughly double the number of cameras required, meaning extra cost.

This might also permit less thorough concealment of the "hidden" cameras (which might mean less cost and/or better image quality), banking on the likelihood that thieves who disrupt the cameras they easily find won't look hard for more.

Last edited by brad_d; 07-08-2013 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Added paragraph
#10
Old 07-08-2013, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad_d View Post
Like ducati mentions, a "best of both words" solution might be a combination of obvious and not-so-obvious cameras. Deterrence (to the extent that you get any) from the obvious ones, and more likely coverage of the undeterred from the hidden cameras.

Of course, this would probably roughly double the number of cameras required, meaning extra cost.
Don't they sell cheap, fake cameras for the deterrence part?
#11
Old 07-08-2013, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ducati View Post
Motion-sensing laser cannons are good, too.
For the budget-conscious, motion-sensing paintball guns have their uses as well. Particularly if you have squirrels in your back yard.
#12
Old 07-08-2013, 05:54 PM
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One thing I saw in the news recently is some guy got caught using a hidden cam that was inside a wallwart. Amazon has one.

Getting a camera that is hidden inside such an everyday object is best. Note: have it face the fake camera so the crook will turn away from the fake and towards the real one.

(And don't use any trick mentioned on a message board. Even this one.)
#13
Old 07-08-2013, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
Don't they sell cheap, fake cameras for the deterrence part?
Yes, I put some on the rent house.
#14
Old 07-08-2013, 07:30 PM
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Most security cameras don't record well in low light. So, invest in motion detectors... lots of them and bright. They are a deterrent, and if they don't deter, then you have a good picture of them.

Also, if you want to get a bit more high tech and psychological, attach to the motion detectors spinning yellow lights or a strobe light with a slow pulse to make the criminals think they set off an alarm or are getting their picture took with a flash.
#15
Old 07-08-2013, 08:06 PM
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For the cost of all of the security cams you'll need, wouldn't the OP be better off with a monitored security system? Monitoring costs can be as low as $8-10 per month and a basic wireless system can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.

All you need is the base station, 2 PIR (passive infra red) motion sensors and maybe a couple of door/window or glass breakage sensors if you want to get fancy. For extra protection you can even add fire/smoke detectors.

In the event that you're worried about the burglars cutting the telephone wires to the house, most now come with a SIM slot so that you can buy pre-paid cell service and use that as a back up to contact the monitoring station.

Last edited by deltasigma; 07-08-2013 at 08:09 PM.
#16
Old 07-08-2013, 08:38 PM
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Two elements here: one is deterrence, the other is catching the bad guys.

For deterrence, just having cameras and/or a security system (or for real cheapo, buying a security company yard sign (on Ebay or Amazon) and a fake camera or two) makes your property less attractive to burglars.

There are inexpensive wireless cameras that not only snap photos on motion detection, they are capable of sending the photos to your e-mail. They can be mounted in fairly inconspicuous locations, assuming you can get a cord to a power supply.

Not too many burglars are going to want to prowl around wearing masks. At least, the ones I see caught on videos commonly don't bother with disguises.

There's a decent selection of DIY security cameras and home security systems on the market, and some have good reviews.
Quote:
Originally Posted by deltasigma
In the event that you're worried about the burglars cutting the telephone wires to the house, most now come with a SIM slot so that you can buy pre-paid cell service and use that as a back up to contact the monitoring station.
Cutting the phone wires won't affect a home system that doesn't use them.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 07-08-2013 at 08:40 PM.
#17
Old 07-08-2013, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltasigma View Post
For the cost of all of the security cams you'll need, wouldn't the OP be better off with a monitored security system? Monitoring costs can be as low as $8-10 per month and a basic wireless system can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
The police here wait fifteen minutes before responding to alarms because of the high false alarm rate.
#18
Old 07-08-2013, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carnivorousplant View Post
The police here wait fifteen minutes before responding to alarms because of the high false alarm rate.
That sort of statistic is generally for unmonitored systems. A central monitoring station can directly query the base station and reduce or eliminate the possibility of a false alarm.

However where pets are involved, if you're relying solely on PIR sensors, that could potentially be an issue. However there are specialized units that restrict sensitivity to eliminate areas close to the floor for example. If you combine this sort with careful placement, you should be ok.

edit: in addition, the monitoring station can contact neighbors to look out their windows to see if there is any suspicious activity or otherwise provide an additional check. Many base stations also will integrate with ip surveillance cameras.

Last edited by deltasigma; 07-08-2013 at 10:06 PM.
#19
Old 07-08-2013, 11:37 PM
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A small but visible sign near the entrances can help:
"Video surveillance in use"
This may be required in states anyway (like Illinois).
#20
Old 07-09-2013, 12:29 AM
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I'm curious who you think is going to view the footage? What good is cinematic-quality high-def 3-D footage of a person whose name you don't know? To prove to the police you were burgled?
#21
Old 07-09-2013, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
I'm curious who you think is going to view the footage? What good is cinematic-quality high-def 3-D footage of a person whose name you don't know? To prove to the police you were burgled?
To identify the miscreant.
#22
Old 07-09-2013, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
I'm curious who you think is going to view the footage? What good is cinematic-quality high-def 3-D footage of a person whose name you don't know? To prove to the police you were burgled?
Police may a) recognize a repeat offender or b) publicize the perp's image so that the general public can help identify him/her.
#23
Old 07-09-2013, 10:45 AM
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Wow. What kind of crime-free hamlet do you live in that the police would put out wanted posters for a mere burglary?
#24
Old 07-09-2013, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
Wow. What kind of crime-free hamlet do you live in that the police would put out wanted posters for a mere burglary?
I've not seen wanted posters, I've seen pictures on TV and web sites.
#25
Old 07-09-2013, 11:39 AM
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Our counties and local towns often include stills of suspects in weekly newsletters to the neighborhoods.

Our local TV stations pick them up all the time, so it's not unusual to see burglary suspects on TV almost every night around here.
#26
Old 07-12-2013, 05:40 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions.
To answer some replies, I live in Thailand and cameras would not be a deterrent, I only put them in to identify the crims, which are probably local kids, should they be stupid enough to climb in without a mask.
I don't think monitoring is even an option in the backwater where I live. Certainly the police won't be turning up.
Wiring is inside the house, a big hammer drill and a long drill bit make that easy. My problem is that the cameras can be easily moved or covered.
Hiding the cameras in a bird cage or flowers would seem to be the best solution, thanks to those that suggested that.
#27
Old 07-12-2013, 06:03 PM
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Many house some sort of external flood lamps on their house - something that looks more for lighting a backyard so you can take out the garbage than for security purposes. The bulbs are pretty exposed and don't look like anything special. A burglar may check to see if they light up from motion detection at night, but otherwise look like something that is just for lighting.

You can buy bulbs that screw into a standard socket that look like a regular glass bulb, but have a camera inside and transmit a signal to a remote receiver through the electrical wiring of the house. They even have infra-red built into them for night vision. A burglar would expect to see such lighting outside a house, and if it isn't night, or the lamps don't light up when tripped, would probably not think them to be anything more than a standard glass lamp.

A camera out in the open that doesn't look like a camera, but does look like something that is normally there anyway.
#28
Old 07-12-2013, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Doggo View Post
\I live in Thailand and cameras would not be a deterrent, I only put them in to identify the crims, which are probably local kids
And the authorities would pick them up on the basis of your images?
#29
Old 07-14-2013, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
And the authorities would pick them up on the basis of your images?
I take it that you don't know Thailand!

More likely what would happen is that if we could identify the culprits to the locals, and they knew them, a bit of "social justice" would occur.
These crims aren't just stealing from me.
#30
Old 07-14-2013, 01:25 AM
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Are the laws regarding lethal booby traps more ..greasy or perhaps abesnt than here in the US?
#31
Old 07-14-2013, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by deltasigma View Post
However where pets are involved, if you're relying solely on PIR sensors, that could potentially be an issue. However there are specialized units that restrict sensitivity to eliminate areas close to the floor for example. If you combine this sort with careful placement, you should be ok.
They can also be tuned to know how many 'pixels' your dog is on the sensor.
If you have a competent alarm integrator, they may even be able to set the alarm so that it knows what size dog you have.
#32
Old 07-14-2013, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by moriah View Post
Most security cameras don't record well in low light. So, invest in motion detectors... lots of them and bright. They are a deterrent, and if they don't deter, then you have a good picture of them.
You can actually get cameras with a bunch of tiny IR LEDs on them for as little as $50 if you want. Bright light is a great deterrent, of course, and I'd suggest it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moriah View Post
Also, if you want to get a bit more high tech and psychological, attach to the motion detectors spinning yellow lights or a strobe light with a slow pulse to make the criminals think they set off an alarm or are getting their picture took with a flash.
A visual and audio deterrent, if you can avoid annoying the neighbors with falses, is probably a much better idea than the cameras themselves. You don't have to stop the bad guys, you just have to make them choose nextdoor.
#33
Old 07-15-2013, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Slant View Post
You can actually get cameras with a bunch of tiny IR LEDs on them for as little as $50 if you want. Bright light is a great deterrent, of course, and I'd suggest it.



A visual and audio deterrent, if you can avoid annoying the neighbors with falses, is probably a much better idea than the cameras themselves. You don't have to stop the bad guys, you just have to make them choose nextdoor.
That wouldn't work for me. Although I am by no means rich in a western sense, where I live, I'm the rich guy, and the neighbours don't have anything worth stealing.
One time, they even stole the yoghurt out of my fridge.
#34
Old 07-15-2013, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jnglmassiv View Post
Are the laws regarding lethal booby traps more ..greasy or perhaps abesnt than here in the US?
The consequences of using a booby trap would depend on how much money I have to pay off the relevant people.
If I was really rich, I could just pay someone to shoot them, but that isn't an option I can afford.
#35
Old 07-15-2013, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doggo View Post
One time, they even stole the yoghurt out of my fridge.
I know what you mean.
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