Many families see their surveillance cameras as luxuries they’ll only need after a break-in or incident has occurred. Some don’t even think about viewing the actual footage on their cameras unless there’s a burglary, but believe the mere presence of cameras will deter them away entirely.
Surveillance cameras can be both offensive and defensive tools. Don’t wait for a break-in or a natural disaster to happen before looking at your archived surveillance footage. Regularly look at your saved footage in order to ensure the following.
1. Make sure they’re working.
First and foremost, you should periodically review your archived surveillance footage to make sure each camera on your property is working properly. You could have a malfunctioning camera for years without knowing it. If you were to rely on that particular camera’s footage after a break-in, that would be a terrible time to find out it wasn’t working.
2. Ensure it doesn’t black out.
Events like storms, power outages and severe winds could cause your cameras to black out sometimes. It’s important to know if this is happening and bring in a professional from your security company to fix it. Keep in mind that a power outage is a perfect time for a burglar to break into your home, so you can’t have your security cameras fail you then.
3. Spot any obstructions.
Your cameras won’t do you much good if an overgrown tree or a tall truck blocks their view. A camera’s view may have been totally clear when you set it up but over time, a neighbor may have started parking their tall SUV in just the right spot to block your street view, or some vines on your roof could have grown over the lens.
4. See if anything has been deleted.
If you suspect any foul play on your property, you should check your archived footage periodically to make sure no one has deleted footage. If you find any footage has been removed, that is a critical time to sit down any employees you regularly have in your home—from babysitters to handymen—and try to assess if they’re still trustworthy.
5. Be aware of prowlers.
You can’t have your eyes on the street in front of your house all of the time, but your cameras can. Should you see a strange man standing in front of your home, looking over your hedge one day, you may not think much of it. But if you check your surveillance and see that man has been there several times, it’s time to call the police.
6. Spot suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
If there has been any sort of suspicious activity reported in your neighborhood, from car theft to vandalism, you could help the police put together the missing pieces of the puzzle. Your surveillance could prove that a suspect was, in fact, on your street during the time of a break-in or provide other valuable evidence the police need to stop the activity.
7. Confirm the landscapers and dog walkers come.
You likely have some professional services come to your home on a regular basis, even when you aren’t there, like landscapers and dog walkers. If they don’t come one week, you probably won’t notice, but you’ll still pay them. If these professionals aren’t showing up on a regular basis, your surveillance can provide the proof you need.
8. Ensure your automatic lights are working.
If you schedule lights to go on around your property at night, you probably won’t notice if they aren’t working, because you’re asleep. Looking through your archived surveillance footage can show you whether or not your automatic lights are on when they should be.
9. Spot fire and flood hazards.
Your surveillance footage could help you spot fire hazards, like an overgrown branch that now lies on a hot lamp at night. If you’re not quite sure what in your yard is causing water to pool by the structure of your home, checking out your footage could help you solve this mystery.
You pay for your surveillance cameras and for the electricity to power them. You may as well get the most out of them by checking the footage regularly. Who knows, it may pay off better than you would expect.