Is CCTV Useless?

I just had some items stolen from my car in a locked apartment compound with CCTV, however was told that even if the person is on CCTV and their fingerprints were found it would be difficult to get a conviction.


  • +3

    Yes and no

  • +3

    CCTV useful, if there is a murder or criminal offence. Otherwise insurance is useful.

    • Insurance: "Hmm, could be a cousin. Do you have their name, address and phone number?"

  • +4

    ….even if the person is on CCTV and their fingerprints were found it would be difficult to get a conviction.

    A finger print alone is useless because they have nothing to match it to. They may store it on their database with the details of the crime and the CCTV footage.

    If the person gets busted for something else and gets fingerprinted, the database will throw up this case and say that it's a match. So they'll get questioned about why their fingerprint appeared in the above location and, if there's enough evidence then they can get charged with the above as well. The CCTV will get included in the evidence.

    Or if it's the other way around and someone recognises the person in the footage, the person can get questioned and charged and then they can check if the person's fingerprints matches those found at the scene.

    DNA works the same as a fingerprint. It's useless by itself.

    Back to your question - CCTV isn't "useless" - most of the time, the possibility of someone's face being captured and recognised acts more of a deterrent more than anything.

  • +1

    How much worth of stuff was stolen?
    Surely you'd want to know what the person looked like all the same, others in the place may also want to know who to be careful of, and who knows, it could be someone living in the building. At the very least you could share it amongst other owners and they can help look out for each other if they see the guy rummaging around again.

    From a police standpoint it likely will depend on them, if you chase it up enough I know people whose had clothes stolen and have been able to get the police to go round to their house. From what I was told, the police was just gruff with them and tell them "to get the persons stuff now" and they did which proved they stole it. But other then that I don't think much happened?

    Still though, the police will always know to watch out for them in the future, and you steal enough times and I'd imagine police would definitely take action. I would imagine this person would probably steal more then just once and whatever police report/CCTV/info you use now will help for the next time also.

  • +1

    Is CCTV useless? it depends what the ultimate goal is.

    • to prevent your stuff from being stolen. depends on location, good for private residences, carparks and public places, not really,
    • to identify the person to get your stuff back your self, ehhh not much of a chance of that is happening,
    • to identify the person to get your stuff back through the police, ehhh not much of a chance of that is happening either

    deterring and prevention is always better. anything after the fact is pointless

  • It should be fairly easy to get a conviction if they have the perpetrator's fingerprints at the scene and have them on CCTV.

    The hard part is undoubtedly finding and catching the person who actually did it.

  • +8

    As others have said here already, not very useful for "catching" anyone after the fact. However I will offer up my own experience.

    I think real-time alerting with the ability to open an app on your phone and see what's happening is the most useful thing. Also peace of mind. We were burgled one Christmas and they went through everything. It was extremely unsettling, and it still makes my blood boil when I think of it. It made me suspicious of everyone I saw in the neighbourhood who I didn't recognise. I was angry for months.

    I should get an alarm I suppose, I just keep putting it off. But I did set up cameras with motion sensing. Any motion in the hallway of my house (connects every room so no matter where they come in it will trigger motion sensor) will send a notification to my phone. So when I'm away from the house I'll know if someone enters. My DIY smart-home could easily be fitted with an alarm, so that's my next project.

    It's also been useful for other things, e.g. couriers will claim they knocked on my door with "attempted delivery" when in fact they didn't even walk up to the door at all. Just dropped the letter in the mailbox and walked off.

    I'm a tech guy so I love playing around with it all. Definitely not useless to me. You catch some funny stuff on the cameras too. My neighbour didn't believe me when I told her that her dog (who roams off the leash) shit in my flower bed until I showed the video evidence.

  • +2

    Few months ago, friends car was parked on the street and a guy was seen jumping on the roof of their car and damaging a number of others cars in the same street (smashing side mirrors, jumping on hoods) He was seen pacing outside a house, and he was also caught on multiple cameras doing the damages.

    He was known to the local cops as well, but they didn’t bother going after him because he is known to have had mental health problems and they said there’s no point going after him

    On the plus side, my friends car was pretty new and they got a brand new car out of it..

  • +3

    CCTV is good provided active monitoring is in place (i.e. someone in a control center somewhere who is paid to do nothing but look at security monitors) and this is usually supplemented with other security controls (e.g. card access systems, PIRs etc.) but this is costly.

    Nowadays, it is mostly used to

    (a) deter crime, but some criminals may not be deterred by the presence of CCTV.
    (b) for investigation / evidence after the crime, but this depends on whether the authorities are motivated to do anything about it

  • +3

    it would be difficult to get a conviction.

    Are you talking about police or bikies? ;)

  • +3

    I have had cops randomly call me a few years after I've submitted CCTV and a statement that the person in question has been caught and convicted. So it definitely helps in building a profile or case on people.

  • -1

    Because as disappointing as it may be to you, a $200 thief shouldn't waste $20k in police and court costs.

  • CCTV is just an additional tool. It isn’t magically going to make matching the image of a person who did the crime with a true identity - unless we get all big brother and use facial recognition from the licence/ID database.

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