The best places to install hidden cameras

| December 16, 2013

Often, the very sight of the all-recording eye of a surveillance camera is enough to deter crime — it’s easier for a criminal to move on to a target where evidence isn’t being recorded. But if the goal is to catch an intruder (or an escaper) in the act, then installing a hidden outdoor camera is more likely to get the job done.

How to disguise your outdoor cameras

This garden gnome could be watching your every move as it plays the song flute. Image by Ekko.

This garden gnome could be watching your every move as it plays the song flute. From Ekko.

Cameras have become smaller, cheaper, and more wireless since the heyday of the iconic, but clunky beige surveillance camera. Many digital surveillance cameras are not much larger than your average webcam, and can even be smaller.

As such, disguising an outdoor camera is easy. There are a number of pre-made camera disguises. A whimsical garden gnome can be fitted with a digital eye. Garden rocks are another popular choice for hidden cameras. Less obvious are garden hose reels or one of those plastic yard owls that scare pigeons away.

A vigilant homeowner with a weatherproof digital camera can also opt to make their own disguises. A wooden birdhouse can convincingly hide a camera while the lens peers out of the hole sparrows are supposed to crawl into. Indeed, repurposing objects already in your yard may be the sneakiest way to install a surveillance camera without arousing suspicion. An outdoor wall sconce can be fitted with both a bulb and a camera, as can a mailbox. A potted plant can do double duty, looking pretty while it provides constant surveillance.

Where to place hidden cameras

Convincingly hiding a camera is only part of the challenge of effective surveillance. Placement is key to making sure each cleverly camera is watching what it needs to.

It should go without saying that a camera’s view should not be obstructed by the object hiding it — it would be pointless to sacrifice function for form.

Beyond that, the same rules apply for hidden surveillance cameras as for ones that are aggressively in plain sight.

Cameras should be placed at points of entry and exit. The front and back doors, and any windows that a burglar can crawl through. Outdoor cameras have a lighting advantage here. An indoor camera pointed at an entrance may adjust to the light when the door is opened, and uselessly capture only the black silhouette of an intruder. An outdoor camera trained towards an exit point captures an image as he or she is leaving without light-adjustment issues.

A window for a shop selling nanny cams. Image by M S.

A window for a shop selling nanny cams. From M S.

Another good place to install a camera are target points — the key places where people are likely to steal. For example, the garage where a vintage Jaguar is parked, or the window outside a media room chock-full of tempting electronics like flat screen TVs and high-end sound systems. Bedroom windows may also be targets as jewelry is usually kept there.

Additionally, consider supplementing an outdoor camera with an indoor camera. A brisk trade in nanny cams means the disguise options are even broader for indoor cameras. Besides the standard teddy bear cam, there are surveillance cameras hidden in alarm clocks, electrical sockets, leather wallets, landscape wall paintings, lego blocks, and electric fans.

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Category: Surveillance