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Lately, there has been a marked increase in car vandalism in my area. To prevent damage to my car and catch the perpetrators in their tracks, I decided to invest in high-quality security equipment. I also did a lot of research on how to catch someone keying your car, which I will share here with you all. Hopefully, you live in a safer neighborhood than mine, but knowing a few tricks and tips wouldn’t hurt either way.
Step 1: Consider the Amount of Light in Your Parking Spot
Most people who park their cars outside choose poorly lit areas. There’s a good reason for doing so — long term exposure to direct sunlight can severely damage your car’s paint and interior.
Besides, most convenient outdoor parking spots tend to be naturally shady. Just think of small alleys tucked between a couple of buildings, tree-lined curbsides, or narrow side streets, and you’ll get the picture.
What’s more, even if you park your vehicle in a well-lit outdoor spot, it is still bound to get dark at nighttime.
With this in mind, consider investing in a quality outdoor security camera if your car spends a significant amount of time parked outside. And if you want to take it further up a notch, get yourself a camera with color night vision. These capture minute details, such as the colors of the perpetrators’ clothing, their facial features, or the make of their car, even when it’s dark outside.
There are many brands and models out there that start at different price points, so make sure to do your research well. A key factor to keep in mind is the camera’s distance range. For instance, certain models can capture up to 33 ft at night.
Other things to consider are the camera’s cut filter, dynamic range, lighting, and ability to capture details.
Step 2: Consider the Distance Between Your Parking Spot and Your Home
Some lucky car owners are able to park right next to their house. Some even have a private driveway or garage. Many others, however, are forced to park their vehicles at quite some distance from their homes.
If you are among the not-so-lucky ones, you may want to buy a long-range HD outdoor security camera. Many models also come with a built-in infrared night vision of over 100 feet and a varifocal lens, which increases the optical zoom capability.
Simply install your long-range camera at your house, and it will monitor your car even if it is parked all the way down the street.
Step 3: Consider If You Would Need a Wired or Wireless Security Camera
Wired and wireless cameras both come in many shapes and sizes and with various features. These include night vision, different memory storage options, and motion sensors. However, before buying one, you need to be clear on which of the two types would best suit your needs.
Before getting a wired security camera, take a moment or two to think it through.
Wired cameras can be a liability. Often, the first task on the to-do list of a burglar or car vandal is to cut any accessible wiring. That way, they disable any alarms, cameras, and other security systems in place and can continue their work undisturbed.
Another drawback of wired cameras is that they rely on a constant power supply. That makes them a poor fit for any place with regular power outages or that has no access to a power outlet.
So if you’re set on getting a wired security camera, place it very high up or hide it entirely altogether. Make sure also to conceal any visible wiring and consider installing a back-up electricity generator.
Alternatively, get yourself a wireless security camera. These are more difficult to disable and are the go-to choice for any place that is not connected to the power grid. Examples include detached garages or outdoor parking spaces.
The downside to getting a wireless security camera is that many models run on batteries. That means you’d need to keep an eye on the remaining charge and replace the battery well before it runs out. That can be a hassle and also increases the follow-up maintenance costs in the long term.
Other types of wireless cameras connect to the grid via an AC power adapter. These don’t need batteries but still require access to the grid.
Finally, there are some models that are rechargeable or run on solar energy. However, just like battery-powered cameras, rechargeable models require follow-up commitment that may not be to the taste of many consumers. Solar cameras are a great and eco-friendly option, but they only work if you live in an area that gets plenty of sunlight year-round.
Step 4: Consider Your Internet Access
Many, if not most, parking spaces have limited internet access — or none whatsoever. That is especially true for underground parking lots and remote, out-of-city locations that are not in the range of Wi-Fi networks. Even the curbside next to your house may not get a decent signal from your home router.
The lack of an internet connection means that your camera may not be able to upload and store security footage.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. You can set up a cellular security camera, as these don’t require network access.
Another option is to install a hot spot connection. Hot spot devices use data from your mobile phone plan and are thus able to access the internet without requiring Wi-Fi. Simply contact your mobile provider and ask if they can offer you an affordable plan.
Step 5: Consider Installing a Motion or Gravity Sensor
Simply recording video footage of someone keying your car can only do so much in terms of crime prevention. Yes, it could later help to catch and bring them to justice, but it won’t do much to stop the deed in the first place.
Luckily, modern security cameras can do so much more than simply record videos. Many of them allow you to view the footage both remotely and in real-time.
What’s more, you can also get a camera with a built-in gravity sensor. It detects changes in pressure and weight resulting from, for instance, someone leaning against the car or slashing the tires. The gravity sensor then sends notifications to your mobile device as soon as it detects any suspicious activity.
Alternatively, you can buy a camera with a motion sensor instead. These are much more sensitive and can pick up even the slightest movement near the car. However, a motion sensor is only a good fit for indoor garages and underground parking lots, as every passer-by or a gust of wind can trigger it.
Whether you opt for a camera with gravity or motion sensor, you can adjust how sensitive you want it to be.
Step 6: Consider the Memory Storage Options
Last but not least, you should weigh the various memory storage options and decide which one works best for you.
One option is to have the video footage stored on a microSD card. They can have a storage capacity ranging from 16 GB to 128 GB or more. Depending on their make and model, security cameras can come with a microSD card, or you may have to purchase one separately.
MicroSD cards are generally reliable and do an excellent job. Their main downside is that they save the footage locally, and when they run out of storage space, they may overwrite existing footage.
The way to avoid this is by adjusting the settings beforehand and have the camera stop recording when the microSD card is full. Then, you would have to stick in a new one. Alternatively, simply download the footage using a card reader, delete it, and put the old card back in.
The main advantage of microSD cards is that they give you a lot more control over your content. Your files are much more difficult to hack or access when stored on a card or other external memory storage device. That makes microSD cards an excellent choice for anyone concerned about their privacy.
Alternatively, you can have your camera automatically upload video footage on remote servers or a cloud. Cloud storage works best with Wi-Fi cameras, as it requires good network connectivity at all times.
While cloud storage is typically more convenient and hassle-free than microSD cards, it is often a subscription-based service. The fees vary depending on your country and service provider, so make sure you do thorough research.
The problem with cloud storage is that it gives you zero control over your content. Power outages and hacking attacks could cause delays in accessing the videos or delete them altogether. What’s more, you never know who else might be watching them.
Step 7: Consider What’s the Best Spot for Your Outdoor Security Camera
Finally, think about where you should put up your outdoor security camera. Great spots include high exterior walls, under the eaves or overhang of your roof, behind exterior lights, and in trees. You want a discreet spot that gives out a good view of your car and the surrounding area and doesn’t attract unwanted attention.
I hope you enjoyed my short tutorial on how to catch car vandals. It is a rather sensitive topic for me, as I’ve been worried about my vehicle lately. Nevertheless, I think these tips could be useful for anyone who owns a car.
As a general rule, remember to weigh your circumstances. Factor in things such as light, distance, location, power and internet connectivity, and memory storage options.
As always, please let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share the article with anyone who might find it helpful.