Opinions home security cameras

I just noticed my neighbor installed a surveillance camera on his exterior wall between our houses. Strikes me as pointing more at my house than down his wall/the property line. But he put cameras at the 4 corners of his house, so at least he isn’t just aiming it at me.

(Full disclaimer - we’ve had a couple of discussions/issues with them about where our properties meet. They were discharging their gutter downspouts perpendicularly from their house - aimed right at our house, instead of to their front or back yards. We asked them to turn it, and they refused, and we had to have the city tell them to move it. Then, they put in some brick work - beds and columns, on the other side of their house. So when they want contractors to go into their back yard, they often bring machinery over onto our side of the property line, where we have a really nice bluestone path we would prefer not get damaged.)

I tend to be kinda over concerned with my privacy (yeah, I know - a losing battle in these times!) And I’m not thrilled with the idea of being filmed as I go about my business around my home. But I’m pretty sure it is legal for him to do that. So we’re thinking we might get a survey and permit and put a 6’ privacy fence down that entire side of the line (currently have 4’ picket fence around the backyard for our dog.) That way, my walking down my path won’t trip their camera, and they can figure out whatever they need to do to gain access to their backyard.

But I was just wondering what you folk think about cameras like this. The other day at work, a guy pulled out his phone and said, “Someone just rang my doorbell.” Was just so weird to me that anyone would care who is ringing their doorbell when they are at work. Same guy proceeded to tell me that he had cameras throughout his house, including aimed at his basement bar to discourage his teens from raiding it.

I can’t imagine wanting such cameras unless I had been having problems. In our old house, some kids were ding-dong-ditching us and I considered it. I’m not aware of whether they’ve had any issues like that. We currently live in a super quiet suburb. I’m not aware of any significant crime in the area.

This article contains what sounds to me like good advice, starting with approaching your neighbor in a non-hostile manner to give him a chance to explain and (maybe) change his setup to reflect your privacy concerns.

“Write him a note, or knock on his door. Kill him with kindness in how polite you are when you approach: “I notice you seem to have a camera pointed right into my backyard! I’m sure you didn’t even realize, but would you mind pointing it elsewhere?” Few neighbors would be so unfriendly as to keep the camera in position after such a direct request.
Or perhaps this will be an opportunity for your neighbor to explain his apparent distrust…
If he does refuse to move the camera after the request or your invitation to dialogue, you might consider self-help options. Perhaps planting trees or shrubs will help, once they grow to block the view of his cameras. Similarly, you might install a tall lattice fence that will give your backyard some needed cover.
If you are still not able to block the camera, you may want to call an attorney. Different states have different laws regarding surveillance…Generally, any publically viewable areas like back yards are fair game – which is how companies like Google can record their Street View images across the United States.
Regardless, a demand letter from an attorney might light the necessary fire under your neighbor to convince him that you will not submit to his unwarranted snooping, even if you would not ultimately proceed to court with such a claim.”

It’s possible that your neighbor believes you would be grateful that his camera’s field of view takes in that side of your house, because it ostensibly would help protect your home from miscreants.

You should check with your city planning / zoning folks. There just might be limitations on how he can legally aim this stuff. It might also need a permit he “forgot” to obtain. Pick up as much leverage as you can before you commence negotiations.
If you are going to erect a fence, make sure it’s properly permitted, has the correct set-backs, etc. Do that exactly by the book and fully as tall as is legal but not an inch more.
Another alternative is to buy a similar camera, even if it’s garage sale junk that doesn’t work, and point it equivalently so he’s “under surveillance” too.

That might backfire as some people love that “I’m being watched; that means I’m safe.” feeling. My own attitude to that is like the OP’s.

OTOH, based on the rest of your post it’s a good bet he’ll be one of the folks who ruthlessly defends his right to total noninterference in his stuff and equally ruthlessly defends his right to total interference in your stuff too.

Just get an AC-powered laser and aim it at the camera…

Yeah, we don’t understand these folk. We get along with all our other neighbors just fine. The side of their house facing ours in - uh - less well kept than the other 3 with weeds and such. We’ve thought before that the best solution would be to extend our fence to the front of our house (allowed per code.) Make it a privacy fence and we can mulch the area, make it a nice shade garden. Maybe hand some flower boxes. Give ourselves a pleasant little area, AND eliminate having to look at/deal with them.

Sorry you’ve had a problem with this neighbor. I don’t understand idiots who re-direct water to a neighbor’s property and then refuse to fix it.

You could check your own local and state ordinances regarding video recording people without their permission. For example, your neighbor might be able to do this provided it doesn’t include audio recording.

Some people go nuts with video cameras like this. I’ve see the TV ad for those systems where you can remotely answer your door bell, which I find really humorous.

As for your privacy, I know this might be easy for me to say, but I wouldn’t be concerned unless they are pointing into your windows. If they are recording you outside someone could just as easily being doing this with an iPhone anyway. The plus side, is that it does increase security for the area if something does happen the video recordings might be useful.

Check to see what the height restrictions are for a fence. They’re pretty tight where I live, but we can still do 1 foot of lattice above the 6 foot fence. Then you grow some vines into the lattice and, voila-- a seven foot privacy fence.

So the last thing that ends up on the recording is our OP taking aim at the camera then ZZZAAAAAPPPP!!!

I predict that won’t end well.

The evil side of me thought about hanging a flag or wind sock on that side of my house. If the camera is motion-activated, it could trigger endless hours of video for them to pore over… :stuck_out_tongue:

Many security cameras, even the low-end ones have software that permits the camera user to establish zones of motion-detection coverage. so it would probably be easy for your neighbor to “blank out” a flapping object and avoid having it trigger a camera alert.

Now if you set up 100 flags covering the entire wall of your house…:smiley:

There is a house a few blocks from us that must put up at least 20 seasonal/holiday themed flags around their backyard fence. Right now it is Easter. Not sure I want to go that route! :wink:

If he’s not picking up your windows in his camera arc, there’s probably little recourse. If he IS picking up your windows, you may have a valid privacy complaint.

Permits and surveys. Yes. Stay ostentatiously inside the local code, so as to prevent acrimony. If he comes to you, present your response in terms in you being considerate. That really makes it hard to complain effectively… :smiley:

There is a place for these cameras. The majority of home breaks-in happen during the day, and are frequently preceded by someone knocking on the door or ringing the bell to see if anyone is home. The Doorbell cameras are effective and useful - rather more so, IMO, than the perimeter camera - unless it’s a shed getting broken into. Based on the rest of the comment though, it sounds like this guy has ‘control’ issues. Or some really out-of-control kids.

Some consider it insurance. Crime can happen anywhere, and the primary expense in the cameras is the initial outlay - they’re pretty damn cheap on an ongoing basis.
Or they could install convincing fakes - that’s actually a fairly viable approach.

I guess it all depends on what you need to feel secure.

Just had staked survey performed. Our existing fence is fully on our property. Next step, get quotes to extend 6’ fence up to the front of the house.

Wind chimes. Lots and lots of hippy wind chimes. :wink:

The world’s a scary place, filled with bogeymen who are after your young children. Especially in the nice little suburbs. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do! Us or them!

You, Sir, are a fiend. I *like *that in a man. :slight_smile:

The cameras (for your uses) need not be ultra high-end. You might need to make out a face from 100’ or a license plate in the driveway. It doesn’t need to look “pretty”, as long as things in the focal length of the lense are recorded clearly enough to be discernable.

You’re better off going with several cameras at a cheaper price than one higher end camera that has blindspots.

PoE (Power over Ethernet) makes install easy, and will be easier to secure. You can put them on their own subnet so they can’t be accessed by someone wardriving. You would be shocked how many compromised home cameras there are. Virtually every wireless camera out there can be accessed easily by anyone. It’s not a flaw with the camera itself (with a few notable exceptions), but with the way most wireless routers (especially those you get from your ISP) are secured.

If you use WEP encryption, I can get in with my smartphone in under 12 seconds (that’s really the maximum time). WPA takes about 3 minutes on average, WPA2 can be 10 minutes up to a couple of hours, but they are all crackable.

The other side of this, it may not be someone hacking your wifi to access your camera, but instead intercepting packets from the camera to crack your wifi, lol. Even if you have really good encryption and a strong key, the cameras become a point of failure. The process or cracking wifi security comes down to intercepting as many packets of data as possible on that network, looking for commonalities in those packets, and using that to reverse engineer the encryption key (this is done through software, so even an idiot can download a wifi cracking app and use it). Wireless cameras kill your network security because they send a constant stream of packets at regular intervals, and the data is fairly uniform. If it’s dark, there’s no motion and the camera has compressed the image before sending it, it may end up sending the exact same image dozens of times in a row. That means the couple of hours it would normally take is reduced to just a few minutes.

This is why PoE cameras like for example Zmodo https://secretstorages.com/best-outdoor-wireless-security-camera-system-with-dvr/ are better, and that negates concerns with interference on the 2.4Ghz spectrum. The downside is you have to run some cable.

If you go wireless, consider getting an enclosure for the camera. This serves four purposes:
• Can disguise the camera (not helpful if you want it as a visual deterrent, but in some situations you will prefer people not knowing you’re recording). If I see a wireless camera, it’s like hanging a big sign in front of your house saying “Hack my Network”, lol. Really comes down to who you’re protecting against.
• Additional protection from the elements.
• Covers the power connection (nobody can just pull the cord, it’s under an enclosure which is bolted down).
• Covers the model of camera. A “hacker” doesn’t know how to exploit every piece of technology, but they sure as hell know how to Google “Default Password for TP-Link Cameras”. If nobody knows what kind of camera they’re dealing with, you’re a lot better off.

You’re the only house on the street, so you’re not likely to find some renegade rural hacker going door to door. If you lived in an apartment where there are 20+ wireless networks visible on your devices… well wireless cameras would surely screw you. You’re probably safer than most people using them, so my advice here might seem a bit alarmist. Just keep in mind, burglars are wise to this tech. They may not be in it to hack your network, but they have the apps and they know how to use them. They check facebook posts for vacation notices to see if anyone’s home, they look for “DIY” alarm systems (unmonitored) and can remotely disable many of them. Gone are the days of someone randomly kicking in your door (unless you live in a drug neighborhood)… They come prepared and it’s very high-tech. Likewise, stalkers don’t just follow you around and sit outside your house, they engage in cyberstalking as well now. They are well versed in information and device security (and security flaws). Crazy people are getting smarter, lol.

Quick Warning on PoE:
If they are powered by a router which also has wifi, make sure it’s secured and not broadcasting the SSID. If I can access the wireless signal, I can reboot the router, thus killing your cameras for a few minutes. If I get on your network I can use a simple script to launch dozens of web requests to your router, one of which is likely the soft-reboot sequence. For example, this would kill most Frontier and Century Link modems (made by Netgear at least).