Using video cameras to catch taggers and thieves

Like many people in Los Angeles, I've had my house tagged and things stolen from my car several times, and I wondered whether security systems could help.

Personal Experience

I'm trying out a home video security system to see if it is effective in nabbing bad guys.

Experimental Setup

A Lorex L19WD800 system, recording 352x240 resolution video, with four "450 line resolution" analog cameras, was installed. Our garden wall and gates are on the north side of our property. At each of the two garden gates, two cameras were mounted, one facing northeast, one facing northwest. The Lorex bundled software was installed on a Windows computer and used to extract .avi files when needed.

Recorded Crimes

The camera system recorded the following crimes:

6 June 2010: Wall tagged. Video, stills, and writeup here.

28 Aug 2010: car radio stolen. Video here. Still pictures one, two, three.

4 Feb 2011: garage door tagged. Video here, here, and here. Still pictures one, two, three, four, five. Happily, these were good enough that showing them to the principal of the nearby completion school allowed her to identify the taggers.

14 Feb 2012: garden wall tagged. See writeup here.

16 Aug 2013: Neighbor breakin; see writeup with video clips.


Of the five crimes observed, only in one of the five cases was the video good enough to identify and catch the offender.


Resolution bottlenecks

Both camera and video recorder limit the resolution of the recorded video. Buying a higher resolution camera, like the Lorex lbc6050, won't do any good if the video recorder only supports 352 lines. It looks like more recent Lorex DVRs support 640x480 recording.


There have been a number of studies over the years about whether surveillance cameras actually reduce crime. Here are a few links: