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Subject: License Plate Reader Security Camera
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Author Messages
GaryT4
(Missouri)

Posts:3


04/20/2017 7:42 AM  
Our Association is 185 members in a Community with a single entrance and exit. Recent car break ins have renewed our interest in security. We would like to capture Vehicle license plates as they leave the Community, since most incidents have occurred in early morning hours this would provide evidence to police. At least 11 homes in our community have surveillance systems, but none of these are positioned to always get evidence.

There are no HOA facilities or electric power near the entrance to provide power and housing for a DVR, but a resident member that lives near the entrance has offered to maintain and control a surveillance system if the HOA provides the cameras and installation which would place a License Plate Reader Camera perfectly positioned to read outbound vehicle plates. This seems acceptable, but raises several issues with the HOA/Member relationship:

1. If the HOA provides a security system for a member to operate, would the HOA be obligated to provide another system to another member resident if requested?

2. If the HOA pays for the Security system installation, not on common ground, can the ownership be passed to the resident member without issue.

I would appreciate any input that would help resolve these two issues.
http://meadowviewcommunity.com/
CjS
(Maryland)

Posts:21


04/20/2017 9:41 AM  
We are currently looking at a camera system also for our entrances and exits. We also do not have power etc. The one we are looking at is a solar system with a cell connection. It will run about $15,000 and cost $50-100 a month to maintain. We are discussing it in the early stages now to determine who will have access to the files (they overwrite every 90 days). A few residents are concerned about their privacy but other are more concerned that the cost of this FAR exceeds the value of what is being stolen. We (on average) only have about 2 weeks of vandalism a year and it's usually petty thefts from cars. Once electronics were stolen, but the police could track it down once it was turned on. We have to decide how much our peace of mind is worth.
GwenG
(Florida)

Posts:521


04/20/2017 10:25 AM  
I would strongly suggest that you do not place a member in control of HOA surveillance device. It opens up several cans of worms, including privacy. It also diverts owner funds to private property and hijacks its operation to the pleasure of the homeowner. This will never have good outcome.

Here is an illustration. Our HOA decided to save money many years ago on internet by allowing a geek with a tower to control its access to the signal and the posting of official business. This has blossomed into a very contentious issue and is just beginning to be resolved by removing the website from the control of the geek owner and setting up an independent website. However, this owner geek is still in control of operation of surveillance cameras and has unchecked access to recorded material. On several occasions of suspicious activity or vandalism, these cameras never see anything because of being down, no night vision, software issues "choose your excuse de jour". They are useless, but owners still pay for their maintenance, software and the special equipment to operate. And they pay the geek owner for internet bandwidth. And, do not have free access, via their HOA, to the recorded material.

These arrangements of convenience might seem reasonable at the time, but one cannot see around corners. Over changing times, mixing HOA and Owner business will have unintended consequences and they will probably not be good ones.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1919


04/20/2017 10:36 AM  
I wouldn't leave the operation of this system to an individual homeowner - it's best to get a system that can be installed and monitored by a professional company, similar to the home security systems. This way it could be set up somewhere in the common area and you wouldn't have to worry about providing systems to other residents (which I wouldn't do anyway - they can buy their own). This type of system will be expensive, so you should shop around and talk to several companies about what they offer. It might also be helpful to talk to the police on how effective these systems are.

But before you go this route, 11 houses out of 185 is about 5% of the entire community, so it may be a matter of educating homeowners on how they can reduce the risk. Start with the 11 break-ins and note the trends - you already know they all occurred during early morning hours - how early? If it was wintertime and people were warming up their cars, they shouldn't leave the door unlocked - that's another way of saying "want a car -here you go!" Were the cars and/or garage unlocked? Has anyone noticed strange cars/people rolling through the community lately? What, if anything was stolen (leaving valuables in the car where they can be seen isn't a good idea, either). Were the targets makes/models that are especially attractive to thieves - check out this link to see what the top stolen cars were last year - https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2016/08/01/the-new-and-used-cars-thieves-love/#2db5d87a2fb9

Inform homeowners of your findings and publish reminders on how they can protect themselves and then pay close attention to what happens over the next few months. Good luck!
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14635


04/20/2017 3:04 PM  
Gary,

Please read the posting rules. Mentioning names of communities are not allowed.


I agree with others, setting up equipment in an individuals home who is not (or might not be in the future) on the Board is asking for legal action. The Board would have zero control over what the individual does with the equipment or video/pictures that are captured. The Board would also have zero agreement with any future owner.

If you want surveillance, pay the money
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:6879


04/20/2017 5:39 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 04/20/2017 3:04 PM
Gary,

Please read the posting rules. Mentioning names of communities are not allowed.


I agree with others, setting up equipment in an individuals home who is not (or might not be in the future) on the Board is asking for legal action. The Board would have zero control over what the individual does with the equipment or video/pictures that are captured. The Board would also have zero agreement with any future owner.

If you want surveillance, pay the money




Sound advice.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:6699


04/21/2017 4:27 AM  
I have a few issues with this idea... What if the thieves are walking in? Driving off with the car just gets the license tag of the car being stolen... Just sayin... Not a lot of evidence there...

My overall issue is that this is an INDIVIDUAL issue being paid by all? Sorry this sounds "heartless" but what responsibility or cost should I have to pay/contribute because YOUR car got stolen? For that matter what responsibility or expense should my neighbors have if MY car was stolen?

This sounds like a great idea but you and the rest of your neighbors are not in the business of protecting your own. If it's a problem then form a neighborhood watch SEPARATE from the HOA. I don't believe crime is a HOA matter as much as it is a NEIGHBORHOOD one. Neighborhood Watches create a group that concentration is on prevention and resolution of crime. That is NOT an HOA matter.

Talk to local police and ask what solutions are available. Education is the key here. Honestly, if your not locking your car or parking it into a garage then you get what you get. No one can prevent that. Most HOA's make it a rule that you must park in a garage. That is the only step I think the HOA can take is enforcing that rule. You can't stop opportunity from knocking especially if it's an unlocked door...

Former HOA President
GaryT4
(Missouri)

Posts:3


04/21/2017 5:48 AM  
Thanks for all the suggestions.

I also apologize for the posting of a specific name Tim, but I read the rules after the first post. I also noted that the HOA website sticky also features names of communities? But I will follow the rules.

To clarify the concern of the neighborhood here, most are concerned with criminals sneaking around at night. This affects the entire community. We do have a Neighborhood Watch with about 35% participation and do share camera images from all of the 11 homes that have surveillance. The police have obtained some of the video, which does help in the investigation. So far, no cars have been stolen, only items removed from cars and open garages or yards.

I plan to heed the consensus advice regarding placing HOA equipment in a non-Board members possession.

We do not have a Meter for electric power near the entrance. Installation of a Meter and an electric feed will be something to look into. This may be the best option. We can then locate the ALPR camera on common ground at the entrance and also subscribe to an internet service. We don't need to locate a DVR at the camera site, but can network to a DVR at a Board member's home (2 available). This should then get around the issues.
CjS
(Maryland)

Posts:21


04/21/2017 6:02 AM  
Gary- If you subscribe to an internet service, you should be able to store the images on a cloud and not need a dvr at a board members house.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:1919


04/21/2017 6:05 AM  
You said " We don't need to locate a DVR at the camera site, but can network to a DVR at a Board member's home (2 available). This should then get around the issues."

No, No, No - you don't need to have anything like this at a Board member's home - whether it's a board member or non-board member, keeping this type of feed at an individual homeowner's house is a problem. If you must get a system, let a professional monitoring service handle the feed.

By the way, if people are concerned about criminals, but there's only 35% of residents participating, those people will need to rethink this. At the very least, homeowners should be encouraged to say something if they see anything suspicious by calling the non-emergency number of the police department (for actual break-ins and other misbehaving, call 911 as usual). And tell them to close the garage door and lock the cars! It doesn't take long for a thief to take advantage of settings like that.
GaryT4
(Missouri)

Posts:3


04/21/2017 7:48 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 04/21/2017 6:05 AM
You said " We don't need to locate a DVR at the camera site, but can network to a DVR at a Board member's home (2 available). This should then get around the issues."

No, No, No - you don't need to have anything like this at a Board member's home - whether it's a board member or non-board member, keeping this type of feed at an individual homeowner's house is a problem. If you must get a system, let a professional monitoring service handle the feed.

By the way, if people are concerned about criminals, but there's only 35% of residents participating, those people will need to rethink this. At the very least, homeowners should be encouraged to say something if they see anything suspicious by calling the non-emergency number of the police department (for actual break-ins and other misbehaving, call 911 as usual). And tell them to close the garage door and lock the cars! It doesn't take long for a thief to take advantage of settings like that.




Our Board are bonded representatives of the HOA and are tasked to monitor the subdivision as required and needed. We also have a Management Company that could also monitor, should we need to arrange it. Use of a DVR is not outside of this scope of duty.

Also The Neighborhood Watch has provided frequent instructions (Newsletters) to the Community as follows:

"Residents should make sure that cars remain locked when parked in the complex. Also make sure that your home doors are locked and garage doors are not left open. If you do become a victim or witness a crime, follow these steps:

- Call the Sheriff dispatch at (xxx) xxx-9999.
- Note the exact time.
- Note any cars in the area, get tags, if possible.
- Take photos.
- write down descriptions of people and movements.
- If a crime has occurred, file a police report.
- Post the incident to Facebook or send to [email protected] relay to the Neighborhood Watch List."
BobD4
(up north)

Posts:904


04/21/2017 6:06 PM  
Posted By GaryT4 . . . To clarify the concern of the neighborhood here, most are concerned with criminals sneaking around at night. This affects the entire community. . . . . So far, no cars have been stolen, only items removed from cars and open garages or yards. . .



GaryT4 Missouri: 1- Maybe it really could help the police identify recurrent opportunistic cruising to steal if the data could pull out coincidence of thefts & particular licence plates leaving your & other communities. I notice Missouri online reverse licence plate sites for your monitors to check.

And if the police had the time and interest to apply it. IF . . .

2 - But a major weakness may be that the same folks prone to leaving vehicles unlocked / articles of some value in view / maybe garage doors wide open, those may also be slow to notice a theft in the first place.

They next may be slow or simply ignore reporting it.

3 - Without the prompt collection of their theft particulars, simply recording recurrent plates in the early hours may have very limited short term value. Few criminals' plates conveniently display "I'm here to steal !"

4 - One might be tempted - instead of all that work - to simply post a big warning sign like "Dissenters & American Civil Liberties Association be damned, we may be recording outbound licence plates ! ".

But detrimental reliance on phony deterrence may unfortunately tend to disincentive some folks already too casual about security.
DouglasM6
(Arizona)

Posts:377


04/22/2017 5:02 AM  
Gary,
Lots of good advice and opinions on here. I'll ad mine.

The license plate reading is a waste of time. It'll show the plate number and that's it. The police won't/can't act on that. Think about it, you call the police with a picture of a license plate and the police go look them up. Unless they were breaking the law by simply being there, the police can do nothing when they deny, deny, deny.

However, should you decide to install the camera at a board members house, draft a contract and lock the DVR so that it takes more than one board member to access it.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:263


04/24/2017 7:32 PM  
I would recommend that you use a street light with pole to mount your security camera. Many wifi systems can be pole mounted
and use the electric that supplies power to the street lamp. said cameras can be remotely accessed to capture a video event.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3427


04/24/2017 8:04 PM  
Posted By DouglasM6 on 04/22/2017 5:02 AM
Gary,
Lots of good advice and opinions on here. I'll ad mine.

The license plate reading is a waste of time. It'll show the plate number and that's it. The police won't/can't act on that. Think about it, you call the police with a picture of a license plate and the police go look them up. Unless they were breaking the law by simply being there, the police can do nothing when they deny, deny, deny.

However, should you decide to install the camera at a board members house, draft a contract and lock the DVR so that it takes more than one board member to access it.


Douglas has a good point ... I would add how can you prove that particular vehicle with that license plate was the individual who perpetrated any crime?

You might check out and consider providing wi-fi internet throughout HOA as part of HOA benefits, then mount internet based cameras in various areas starting where most crime takes place. You can add more cameras down the road if needed. The cameras can then upload via internet to a cloud based server. If I remember I think this is what my mom's HOA for her vacation home in Las Vegas utilizes.

Many homes now have these type systems ... LOL ... Just received tonight a phone call from my neighbor who is out of town because they received an emergency notice that someone was on their back patio. YEP ... was me moving their UPS delivery which was supposed to be delivered to back patio and was not, so as per our discussion this morning as they were heading out of town I moved it for them. Technology has come a long way so their are many options.
NigelB
(Texas)

Posts:201


04/25/2017 8:53 PM  
Here's my two cents worth, I spent over 30 years in federal law enforcement. Admittedly we didn't get involved in local crime, but I do have experience working with local law enforcement.

Surveillance systems are fine for certain applications as are license plate readers. But they have to be monitored in real time to be of any real use in solving property crime and that is a very expensive proposition. The primary use for a license plate reader is to have the ability to run the plate immediately through the other systems such as intel data bases, NCIC, or local law enforcement data bases listing stolen or wanted vehicles.

The problem with just about all surveillance systems including readers used in an HOA application is that they are storage devices. They store the information which can be retrieved manually via on site or perhaps through a cellular downlink. If an event happens in the subdivision, theft of wheels or a vehicle break in for instance, those things generally happened in the wee hours and are not discovered until the morning. If the surveillance system is located at an entrance to the subdivision, all it will capture is the comings and goings of vehicles. In the for instance case - you have a break in and a window of time so someone is going to have to review the stored images and or video.

Even then, unless there is a pretty clear indication that the vehicle captured in the surveillance system was involved in the criminal activity you really don't have too much. And to be perfectly honest the local law enforcement department really doesn't have the personnel or time to investigate. Their sole response will be to give the injured party a police report that they can use to file an insurance claim. If the act was caught on a homeowners security system that is of course a different matter.

These systems are expensive - in the region of $20k to cover various entrances. The HOA needs to ask itself is this an expense that should be incurred based on the crime rate in the subdivision. It is assumed that everyone in the subdivision carries insurance and that some may have their own security systems. Far less expensive remedies are available - motion activated lighting covering the driveway and vehicles can be purchased for under $100. Wireless video surveillance systems for less than $400.

I wouldn't recommend such a system for your HOA's perceived problem.
LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


04/27/2017 5:14 AM  
Gary,

You seem to believe that outsiders are driving into your community in the middle of night to break into vehicles and that this will end if you can provide the police department with a license plate number (and nothing else).

While there may be outsiders involved, I would look closer to home. What you describe is kids' stuff. More specifically, teenage boys. Map out the crime locations and start looking for teenagers who live nearby.

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