Covert Investigations: Cameras
Is covert surveillance a necessary part of your investigation? Lux levels, nanny cams and other camera considerations
By Brandon Gregg
April 01, 2010 — CSO —
The elusive suspect had countered the manufacturing site security's reactive measures for the last 3 months. Dogging the well placed but ineffective overt closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the unknown suspect gained access to the administration's offices and finger-painted anti-corporation slogans along the walls with red paint for the fourth time. Even after increasing physical security patrols to that area, the stealthy suspect made his mark on the walls expressing his discontent for the company's stock price.
An often simple, but miscalculated solution to this type of investigation and others like it is the use of covert video cameras.
Catching your criminal red handed and much like an undercover sting operation on COPS can do wonders for solving your investigation. However, there are many technical considerations you need to know before you join the CIA's black ops team.In this three-part series we will cover covert cameras, recording devices and setup for your security investigation.
Covert Surveillance Part One: Cameras
As you may have experienced with your own CCTV system, not all cameras are created equally. When shopping for a covert camera there are four main factors that need to be decided upon before you set up:
- lux level
- and power consumption.
Size is an obvious part to focus on due to your covert setup, but not always a must. Cameras range from large bricks to fingernail-size pinhole 2.9mm lenses. You will also find as the size of the camera decreases, often times the resolution and lux levels get worse and the price goes up. With that said, I always leave size on my list of needs last. Cameras can be hidden no matter what the size, and will be more effective with high resolution and a low lux level.
In a world where everyone has a digital camera or HDTV, many people already recognize the need for high resolution images. This should be no different with your covert camera. The last situation you need is to catch a criminal act on video but then be unable to identify the individual clearly due to the poor resolution from your cheap camera. To combat this, always make sure you are getting a camera that captures 740 x 480 lines of resolution or more. Anything less and you may have a hard time making out details, especially in low light situations.