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The best home surveillance systems

Recent FBI data shows Americans lose more than $4.5 billion in property each year to burglary. As a result, a growing number of homeowners are installing video surveillance systems in and around their homes.

America Now host, Leeza Gibbons, met with Lieutenant Alan Hamilton of the Los Angeles Police Department to explore the effectiveness of these high-tech security solutions.

"We have what's known as a knock-knock burglary happening here throughout the Los Angeles area, and these suspects thought that they were concealing themselves from one camera, but they were not aware that there was another camera that was actually filming them," says Hamilton. "You can monitor them from your work computer, you can monitor them remotely from other offices, you can monitor from anywhere around the world."

But more than that, he says if someone has broken into your home, you can send a real-time video link to the police.

"We've even had an instance here in Los Angeles where we were advised that a crime was occurring, they sent us the link and we were able to monitor it while we were actually on the way to the house," Hamilton adds.

He says similar practices are being used fairly commonly in a lot of departments throughout the United States. And that footage is valuable evidence when a suspect is brought to court.

Richard Buchanan is a security expert with Post Alarm Systems in Arcadia, California. He showed us some of the best surveillance cameras on the market today.

"There are several low-cost camera options available on the retail market today," says Buchanan. "Some of them actually aren't too bad. The danger you have to look out for is longevity of product. Look at the warranty and the level of support."

That's advice with which Hamilton agrees. He also suggests recording on a remote server as an added safeguard, so no one can break into the house and obtain the video and destroy the evidence.

If you're thinking about investing in a home surveillance system, remember:

  • Multiple cameras are best to capture a variety of angles
  • Keep some visible and some concealed
  • Smart phone monitoring and real-time links can help police catch thieves in the act
  • Recording to a remote server is a good way to protect evidence that can be used to convict a burglar who's broken into your home

Some people may opt for guard dogs rather than security cameras.

Hamilton says, "Although a dog is certainly man's best friend, you can't interview the dog later on and get a description of the suspect. The camera is always going to help the police department in their investigation."

One more piece of advice: If your video surveillance system has recorded a crime but the footage looks dark, remember that video can be digitally enhanced and may contain valuable details. So save all of your footage—no matter how unclear it may seem to you!

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