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Can You Point a Security Camera At The Street?

If you’re interested in setting up a security system for the outside of your home, you might be wondering if there will be any issues with pointing a camera towards a public street. Being mindful of what problems may arise and considering possible solutions or preventative actions can keep you and your neighbors happy in the long run. 

In most cases, you can point a security camera towards a street. Laws vary from state to state, but if your camera is pointed towards an area where privacy is not a reasonable expectation, and the footage is being used for surveillance purposes, you may be fine. 

Checking your state or municipal laws regarding home surveillance is a great first step before setting up any security system. Some of your neighbors may take issue with pointing a camera towards a public street as well. Be sure to have a conversation with any homeowners who might get in view of your cameras before installation.

Cameras can provide a deterrent for potential illegal activity and monitor an area. This could make you and your neighbors feel safer and more comfortable. 

Benefits of Having a Security Camera Facing the Street

Person stealing delivery package from porch steps, surveillance

Pointing a camera towards a street can provide safety and security for everyone around you. Consider the implications and the benefits of having a camera street-facing. It can monitor your property and the public area just in front of it and any other property that might be in the camera’s view. 

Here are some benefits of having a street-facing camera:

  • Keep track of everyone who rings your Doorbell with a product like The Ring doorbell camera (on Amazon). This type of camera allows you to tap into a video feed that is hooked directly to your doorbell.
  • Prevent crime. A camera tells a criminal that the area is being monitored, and their identities and actions will be recorded. This does double duty for protecting your property and other properties not within the camera’s view. Just seeing a camera make a potential robber think twice. If you’re worried about package thieves, porch cameras are also an excellent deterrent for this type of criminal activity. 
  • Have video evidence of criminal activity. Security camera footage is sometimes crucial evidence when investigating crimes – something we’ve discussed before. When you point your camera towards the street, you allow for constant surveillance of a public area. If an offense goes down somewhere around your camera, it could provide the video evidence needed to help in the investigation. 
  • Maintain peace of mind. It’s hard to quantify safety. But if you’re someone worried about crime, there is a lot of value in feeling secure. Security cameras can provide the protection you need to feel more comfortable in your own home or while on the trail (our guide)

While there are many benefits, always keep in mind that your neighbors might not be as open to the idea as you. Having an understanding of how others could be affected by your security system can prevent issues from popping up. 

Potential Complications

Security Camera with Residential Home in the Background

Make Sure to Check Your Local and State Laws

This is not a legal guide. When it comes to laws, always abide by your state and local guidelines. This article is meant to scratch the surface and outline some necessary information you might need when pointing a camera towards the street. But you need to verify your local laws and regulations outside of this discussion before taking any action here.

Like mentioned before, state laws differ. This means that there might be regulations regarding what you are allowed to monitor. If you are worried about everything’s legal implications, consider talking to a lawyer about the matter. 

Your Intent Matters

Generally speaking, if your camera is pointed towards a public area, you may be able to capture footage legally (although you need to confirm that in your specific area). Any area that can be seen from a public place, like your front yard, also falls into the permittable territory. This is how Google Street View can get a picture of your front door. Be careful, though; in some states, surveillance like this could lead to criminal or civil charges. 

Laws are also in place to regulate what the footage is used for. Intent plays a massive role in surveillance laws, and these laws act as a deterrent for potential nefarious uses. Always look up your state’s laws to find the most up to date and accurate information. 

Neighbors May Take Offense

Laws aside, there is one major complication that you could face when pointing a camera towards a street: your neighbors. 

It may seem like a net win with all the benefits we listed above, but perception is all in the eye of the beholder. What makes you safe and secure could cause someone to feel like their privacy has been invaded. Consider what types of footage your camera might be capturing on a daily basis. 

Aside from criminal activity, you could also catch on video:

  • Cars passing by
  • Dog-walkers
  • People exercising
  • Children playing
  • A family BBQ
  • Your neighbor in their bathrobe getting their morning paper.

You could imagine how someone might feel uneasy that you have access to this type of footage, regardless of how good your intentions are. Even something that seems benign like a doorbell camera can have implications for the people who live around you. 

To Avoid Problems, Communicate

The best way to make sure you don’t run into any angry neighbors down the road is to communicate your intentions before installing cameras. This seems like an obvious step, but privacy can get overlooked in the enthusiasm of security and safety.

Make sure you are thinking of your neighbors long before you install the first cameras. The best way to do this is to have an open conversation with them about your security concerns and the implications of having your cameras pointed towards their property. 

More often than not, you will find that they are on board with the idea. We all want to feel safe, and if you and your neighbor have a trusting relationship, then having security cameras in the neighborhood could be a net win for everyone. For example, if someone were to break into your neighbor’s house, they could request your footage to help with the investigation. Before making assumptions, though, talk it out. 

Be Open to Negotiations

You may have a concrete plan, but your neighbor might make some suggestions on placement that will help them maintain their sense of privacy. They may request that you place the camera in another location or angle the lens, so their home is out of frame. Make sure you listen and hear them out.

This situation requires attention and diplomacy, so keep in mind that your decision can affect those around you. Their privacy concerns are as important as your security concerns. A great way to prevent these issues from popping up is to have your neighbor involved in the planning process.

Your main concerns might be monitoring your property, but you can easily loop in your neighbors’ interests to make sure the project is approved from the beginning. Presenting your security and safety concerns in a way that shows your level of attention and openness is an excellent way to get your neighbors on board with the idea of surveillance. 

You need to build a trusting relationship with your neighbors. This can be bolstered or hampered by installing street-facing cameras. Make sure they know that their concerns are being taken into account and that safety and privacy are your goals as well. Building a mutual understanding of your intent when using cameras can also show your neighbors they don’t need to be concerned with how the footage is being used. 

Deciding whether or not to place a street-facing camera on your home can be a big decision. There are many benefits to using a camera in this way, but there are also possible problems. Always do your due diligence and explore the laws in your area and always chat with any neighbors that might be affected by your choices.