Smile, You’re on Candid Crime Camera!
For most companies with widespread remote facilities, like cell towers and electrical substations or construction sites, the expense of staffing each location for security purposes is prohibitive, and with the advances in video surveillance technology it is generally unnecessary. Many companies are discovering that used individually or in combination, hidden cameras and motion detectors are helping to stem the flow of cash to the pockets of copper thieves. For many thieves, the realization that they have made a serious blunder comes when they’re watching the evening news and see a video of themselves committing a copper crime, followed by the anchor person saying, “If you can identify this person contact the police department.”
Most adults today will fondly recall the popular show in the early days of television; Candid Camera. The first and longest running reality-based comedy program, premiered on ABC 10 August 1948 and celebrated its 35th anniversary with an NBC special in 1983.While the show was amusing, at the expense of those whose actions were being secretly recorded by hidden cameras, the most amazing aspect was the subjects allowed very embarrassing footage to be aired on television.
Since those early days of hidden cameras, there has been an explosion of electronic eyeballs watching almost every move we make in public, and some in private. So you might wonder, with the presence of video cameras in parking lots, restaurants, retail stores, and even along highways today, why would anyone commit a crime? The answer to that is beyond me, or the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, read the headlines. Criminals are not smart, just criminal. What seems criminal to me is that companies don’t protect their property better than they do.
Today, a wide range of security camera equipment and capabilities exists, which can make any security surveillance system extremely able and highly functional.
The key to setting up a good system is choosing the technology that is most easily adapted to your particular physical requirements and limitations. What is really remarkable is the sophistication of the software that is used to control today’s remote cameras. For example, many remote cameras have an internal network interface that easily transmits footage back to a management platform – and then to anywhere in the world. It is also configurable to email alerts or footage on a regular basis. So you don’t have to sit in front of a screen waiting to catch someone, the camera will notify you. And, some cameras use a combination of motion detection to trigger a camera, so you don’t have to wade through a lot of tape to find the culprit.
To begin narrowing your options, you should identify a few basics that will help you choose the right solution. Wireless versus wired surveillance cameras is the first decision that you’ll need to make. And there may be extenuating physical limitations that require a mixture of cameras. Then comes the question of how many cameras will be required. Using too many can be overkill, while too few may not get the job done. Then comes the question of remote video surveillance provided by a secure Internet connection.
Once you have a clear idea of these primary considerations, then you need to look at the type of environment where you will be using video surveillance cameras. Will exterior or interior areas be monitored, or do your needs require both types of locations? What lighting conditions exist during different times of the day and night, in each area you will need to monitor? Will outside equipment be exposed to direct sunlight during part of the day?
When you have considered all of these questions, you can begin to look at the different brands and models of video surveillance camera systems and continue the elimination process. Here’s a quick rundown of the major categories from which you will be able to choose.
• Fake security cameras are not functional units, but a very inexpensive alternative to purchasing an actual system. Basically it’s rattling a non-existent saber. While these cameras can act as a deterrent, keep in mind that many criminals don’t have the presence of mind to check for the presence of cameras, and should something happen, you will have no record of the criminal.
• Covert surveillance cameras are cameras that look like regular household or industrial items. They are disguised as a wall clock in a small store, a stuffed animal in a baby’s room, an elaborate floral display or in an industrial setting it could be atop a storage cabinet. The point is to conceal the camera so that it doesn’t attract attention. Thieves intent on stealing copper are focused on the items they want to steal and getting out quickly. Covert cameras catch them every time.
• Wireless security cameras are generally small and offer more flexibility in set up. They are easy to install, can be moved readily, have no tell-tale wires, and are very discreet.
• Wired surveillance cameras are used most often in situations where a permanent setup is desirable. If you have one location that you would like to constantly monitor and will not need it to be changed, a wired camera is perhaps the best option.
• Night vision security cameras are ideal for any low-light areas and not just for the nighttime. Color images are more difficult in extremely low light, so night vision cameras records in black and white to capture images best.
Many wireless systems exist which make use of a different means of getting image signals from the camera to the receiver/monitor/recorder devices. WiFi is now one of those.
WiFi stands for “wireless fidelity” and it allows you to browse the internet in places like McDonalds or Starbucks from your smart phone or laptop. But it can also be used for the security system as well. The good thing about WiFi cameras is that they come equipped with an IP number and it is possible to set up a ‘website’ that you can log into from anywhere in the world to see what’s going on in your home, business or remote location. Essentially you can control the IP cameras from anywhere in the world, changing the angle and zoom setting of the camera from your computer.
These cameras are digital, so they provide superior quality footage compared to analog CCTV and as the information is stored digitally on a hard disk, there is no chance of footage degradation common to analog equipment. Digital footage is also easier to search at a later date.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. Although CCTV may employ point to point wireless links, it is often most used for surveillance in areas that may need remote monitoring. The length of operation and duration of operation for CCTV systems are totally controllable by software. A more advanced form of CCTV, utilizes Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), to provided recording for virtually an unlimited period of time, with a variety of quality and performance options and extra features such as motion-detection and email alerts. Generally, CCTV requires a hardwire connection.
Motion detectors are another weapon in the arsenal for criminal protection. You can even select models that detect motion and breaking glass. Again, new technology has eliminated some of the early problems associated with simple motion detection devices, like pets or stray animals triggering false entry alerts. Today, units detect objects that generate heat with infrared radiation, such as animals and the people within the detection range. Dual technology sensors combine Stereo Doppler Microwave Technology with a dual element Passive Infrared system that is ideal for commercial and residential use. And some detectors can be installed so they are virtually unnoticeable. Used in combination with remote cameras, these crime fighting technologies can result in the criminal becoming the victim when they hear that once popular phrase adapted to today’s copper crime environment, “Smile You’re on Candid Crime Camera.”
Camera’s and motion detectors are effective tools, but the foundation of a good program of copper theft protection begins with busbars that are stamped with your identifying information. For more information on copper electrical components, here’s a helpful link to information at StormCopper.com
For more information on preventing and protecting your assets from copper theft, please read these helpful articles from our Copper Crime Center.