Can I bug my parking lot?
I have somebody who keeps tagging my building with graffiti. I'd just love to catch these guys, so I'm thinking to put up some hidden cameras. I'd also like to put out a microphone or two, in hopes they might call each other by name.
My question is: Is it legal for me to record the conversation of these hoodlums without their knowledge? It sounds terribly stupid that I have to ask, considering they are breaking the law and damaging my property, but you know how the law protects the criminals now days.
I'd hate to get it all on tape, and then have some judge fine me for 'violating their civil rights'.
(Thanks a lot, ACLU.)
The odds it is not legal are slim. Using video to secure property has not been challanged as far as I know. The limits generally are to never install cameras in locations indoors where people would be expected to disrobe: bathrooms, change rooms etc. Outdoor installations should be watching the property not aimed at a window of a residence or business. You can always ask the local PD.
CCTV has gotten pretty cheap dollar wise. However to get what you are looking for you need an extensive amount of cameras.
The field of view of each camera would need to cover the entire area in question.
As most cameras used for home use have a fixed lens NOT designed to get an ID shot. They are intended for surveillance.
An ID shot means that the size of the persons head will be 1 square inch (approx) on a 9 inch monitor, if not it will be fuzzy and unrecognizable in most cases.
You would need a digital switcher and time lapse recorder. Time and Date MUST be superimposed onto the tape or digital storage. No time and date means you cannot prove when the crime took place, meaning they can alibi for the time you claim this occurred.
In order to get audio you cannot record slower than 24 hour speed. This is old VHS type equip.
The more cameras you have the more likely you miss a crucial picture while all the other cameras are being scanned thru in sequence. Video motion detection (provided by a digital switcher with the feature available) is not cheap, that would cause the cameras most likely to produce to be recording when motion was detected in it's field of view.
This is hopefully long enough answer to discourage you from spending 3-5K to try and do something that can be fixed by lighting the area with secure lighting devices.
If you must get pictures try it with a hand held recorder. You will lose some sleep waiting for them.
Yes on the video cameras.
The audio is a little trickier but actually in most areas yes, but this would be dependant on jurisdiction. Here in Colorado, I believe as long as one party is aware of the recording (including the party doing thge recording) it is legal. I'd have to double check that. I haven't had occasion to research this one.
But, I think the solution is to simply add the warning to the No Trespass/ You're Being Videotaped signs so they also advise Audio Recording is also done, but do check your local statutes.
If you own the property, you are allowed to put surveillance cameras up and videotape anything the camera records. You are NOT allowed to put bugs anywhere and record surreptiously without a) notifying anyone who might be recorded that he/she might be recorded or b) having a court order in place to record conversations without the person's knowledge. As strange as it sounds, on your own property you are allowed to record what people do without their consent, but you are not allowed to record what people say without their consent or unless you give them very reasonable and flagrant notice that voice recording devices are in place(unless there's a wiretap court-order in place).