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Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66?

Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66

Over the decades we have been installing camera systems we have seen many times that cameras get water in them and the client assumes this is a warranty claim as they are IP66 rated.

So firstly, let’s look at this rating.

IP66
Able to protect against powerful water jets.
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Test duration: at least 3 minutes (3 minutes of water does not create the same issues as days at a time in storm season).
Water volume: 100 litres per minute (this is at the nozzle).
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m (this may equate to very little pressure at the camera).

This all sounds like they are quite waterproof, however these specifications are misleading, let’s look at some household pressures that put this into perspective, as you can see, these numbers are significantly above the approved limit.

A water jet cleaner, like a Gernie is around 10,000 kPa, 10,000% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose without a nozzle is around 250 kPa, 250% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose with a jet nozzle can be around 2,000 kPa, 2,000% greater than the camera can handle.

Clearly these water jets are well above the guaranteed measure.

Now to discuss wind, as we know there are many times gusts of wind reach up to and over 100kph, with around 125kph enough to start lifting or moving heavier objects. Combine this with heavy rain and you have a situation where your 100kPa is again well exceeded and your camera may get water injected around the seals or threads.

So what does this all mean you may ask, well it means that if you hose your cameras, install them directly in exposed weather, Gernie them or otherwise allow them to be wet and hit by harsh wind, they will probably get water ingress which will eventually kill them, and these issues do not form a valid warranty claim as the manufacturer’s only warranty against the IP66 specifications.

When cleaning your cameras, use a damp microfibre cloth and do not leave them wet, when installing them, even if they are weather proof, they belong under an eave unless they are in a housing or have a stronger IP rating, and remember direct sunlight will also damage your cameras and cause wear on the seals, further reducing the cameras ability to withstand the harsh Australian elements.

So to keep your cameras healthy and clean.

  1. Always mount under eaves or away from direct weather exposure
  2. Never allow water to hit them directly
  3. Clean your cameras gently with a damp microfibre cloth

If you follow the above tips, your cameras will last a lifetime and will always deliver crystal clear images like the day they were installed.

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Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Intro

There are so many cameras on the market, ranging from low quality diy kits to high quality installed security systems, from no name brands to reputable brands like OzSpy, HikVision, Dahua, etc., each having it’s own ranges of cameras with different features and performance. So exactly what makes a great night vision camera, or better still, are there things to look out for?

The answer is yes, there are a couple of areas to look for, one being the sensor brand and model, the other is the LED array, both of which we will cover here.

LED Array

Firstly we will discuss the LED array, which are the LED(s) around the lens or next to the lens that normally glow a soft dim red at night. These act as a flashlight for the camera and come in many shapes and sizes.

There are a few things to remember about IR, that will help you understand what to look out for and what to expect.

LED is like any other light, like a torch, or a spot light, it needs something to reflect off. Imagine you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a torch, if you shine it at the boat below you it will be bright, but if you shine it on the water it won’t be, and worse still if you shine it into the distance or up into the sky it will be non-existent. This tells you that the usable light only travels a short distance and needs to reflect of something light to be useful, shining into water or the distance makes it useless. Keep this in mind when placing or evaluating your IR/night vision capabilities, if your camera is facing into the distance or darkness and there is nothing to reflect off, it will be useless unless someone walks up to it.

Your LED IR may also not like dark trees, or swimming pools, or even a dark fence as it will not have a light surface to reflect off, so even if you have a reasonable quality camera, the position may affect the visible or usable night vision.

A camera inside a room or patio is amazing at night, when you place the very same camera outside in a large grassy area, it may be next to useless. This is purely because of the reflective surfaces giving the camera lots of reflected light to use.

Rule of thumb: Make sure there is something for the light to reflect off.

IR Range

Next is the IR range of the camera, which is normally advertised in meters, for example with a 30m IR camera you would expect 30m night vision, but sadly this isn’t true at all, in fact you should always take off 30% or even 50% to get a more realistic usable range. This is because in testing the camera is placed in the darkness and someone walks in white overalls, at the point they completely disappear, or just start to appear is the distance factories advertise. The big issue is, crims rarely wear white overalls, and at the point of just seeing an outline is not usable.

Rule of thumb, for excellent night vision allow a drop of at least 30%, so a 30m camera, would suit a 20m area.

The Sensor

Now for the important part, the sensor, this is the CCD or CMOS electronic sensor that turns light into electronic signal and is the most crucial part of the equation. There are many brands and many models, and it is way too much for the average person to keep track off, each brand also has many models, so if you want exceptional night vision, you should stick with the SONY Starvis IMX sensor, if you want above average night vision you should stick with a SONY non Starvis IMX sensor, if you are happy with average night vision an OV or other non SONY brand will be fine.

Normally suppliers will list their great night vision cameras with names like Starvis, Starlight, Night Shot, Dark Fighter and so on, try searching in our search box at the top of the screen for Starvis and you will see our specialty night vision cameras.

We sometimes get complaints that the Starvis cameras don’t turn on the night vision and stay colour, that is because they need such little light, often they will stay full colour at night.

SONY Starvis Nigh Vision Cameras

Rule of thumb: If you want excellent night vision, stick with SONY Starvis, for good night vision stick with SONY (not starvis), for ok night vision try OV (Omnivision) or other no name brands.

DIY Kits

As specialty night vision cameras are much more expensive to manufacture, you won’t find them in DIY kits, regardless of the brand, if you are serious about your night vision, you will need to buy specialty cameras and build your own system.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect night vision like this from a DIY kit or no name brand camera.

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Setting up a 3G remote surveillance camera

Setting up a 3G remote surveillance camera

What if you wanted to set up a camera in a remote location and needed to remote view, in this article we will discuss a simple way to set up a remote surveillance set-up with a 3G modem and a car battery/solar system using a standard IP camera.

We will only cover setting up the camera for email alerts, remote access and motion detection as well as the overall set-up, we will not be covering setting up the 12v DC power supply.

Firstly you will need all your parts:

1x 3G modem with RJ45 (LAN) plug preferably 12v DC

1 x IP camera with SD and P2P

1 x 12v power source like a car battery or solar set-up with a 2.1mm DC connector attached

1 x 2 way DC splitter (Search our site for VPSPLIT) for dividing the power to both devices

1 x IP66 JBOX

1 x LAN lead (Cat5 or Cat6)

1 x 12v DC power supply for initial setup

Despite many people telling you how hard this is, it is relatively simple.

Before going bush, you will need to set up your system and test it from home, so for now in the comfort of your home, insert the SD card (preferably 128GB), plug the camera into your home modem and also into the 12v DC power supply and then open internet explorer (must be IE) and type in your cameras IP address. If you are using an OzSpy IP camera, it is probably 192.168.1.168. If you are on the wrong network range, you will need to fix that first so you can see the camera.

Next login to the camera and set-up your email alert, this will set the camera to take a high res image and email it to you whenever it sees motion. Now download the correct app, if you are using an OzSpy camera, this will be FREEIP or BITVISION, then navigate to the Config>Network>Advanced>P2P and scan the serial number into the app, you should now have live view on your phone, and set-up motion detection so the camera knows to take action when it sees something move.

Make sure everything is saved and restart your phone and the camera and test again.

Now the last step is to plug the camera into your new 3G router and test to see if you have connectivity. As you have already setup your camera and phone app, now you simply unplug the  LAN lead from your home modem and plug it into your new 3G modem, restart the 3G modem and the camera, wait 5 minutes and then test the phone app, you should now be set-up.

The last step it to take your set-up to it’s location and finish the set-up.

Once on site locate your 12v DC power source and use the VPSPLIT to give you power to the modem and the camera, you can add an extension cable to the camera to put it up high, or hide it away somewhere. You will also need to make sure that the modem is weatherproofed so use an IP66 weatherproof JBOX, available from electrical suppliers. Do not use a metal box as this will cause a loss of signal to the 3G modem.

After plugging it in, wait five minutes and walk in front of the camera, you should receive an email, and if you have PUSH activated on the app, your mobile should show a notification. Lastly, try logging into the camera with the app, you should be able to view the camera remotely now showing your setup is working well.

An alternate way of setting this up would be using  PoE injector at the power end so the camera would not need the 12v DC chord and you could run the LAN cable to the camera a larger distance with less effort.

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How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

When you find out there is a problem in your home or business and you decide that electronic surveillance equipment like CCTV or hidden cameras may be the answer, you are then faced with the choice, to catch or deter, or both.

In this blog we will discuss the pros and cons of each and some simple methods to improve the effectiveness of either.

The first thing to consider is that a covert camera will catch someone and a visible camera will deter someone or move the crime to a new location. Moving the crime is an important consideration as a poorly placed CCTV camera will be ineffective if the actual criminal act is not happening exactly where it is pointed.

So how can you make sure that you do both, well the best method is to funnel the criminal into a controlled location where you can catch them, this is done by placing your overt or visible security cameras in locations where you effectively push the crim into an area where they feel safe knowing there are no cameras watching them, and then nab them with a covert camera.

This can even be achieved with a dummy camera or two as well as your existing security cameras as we did in the following installation.

The bottle shop man

Some time ago we had a client who owned a bottle shop and the staff were scamming him by buying hot slabs of beer from him behind his back and selling cold six packs and pocketing the cash, this went on for years and no matter how hard the client tried, he could never catch them, and worse than that, he had no evidence as the books always balanced, however he knew there was an issue as warm slabs of beer were becoming the best seller and cold six packs never got sold anymore. He also noticed a big hit to the businesses bottom line and profits became tight.

This client already had a functioning CCTV system that was clearly installed without the thought of catching, or even reducing the crime with camera placements in very generic positions.

The client came to see us and we arranged a meeting after hours and had a look at the site, where we quickly were able to ascertain that the staff would had plenty of hidey holes where they could pocket some cash without being seen, so we recommended that we relocate his cameras to useful positions, add some new cameras with better resolution and a covert camera at chest height beside the till.

The client agreed, so we went to work and added the covert camera and new cameras after hours, and we also added a dummy camera on the other side of the till to force the staff to face the covert camera by turning their back to the dummy camera if they were to steal money.

The next day we went on site and the client announced we were upgrading the system so there was no suspicion about the new dummy camera and we completed the upgrades and left.

It was just the following day that the client called thanking us that they had the perfect shot of one of the staff members turning her back on the dummy camera and unknowingly facing the covert camera and stuffing money into her underwear. We insisted he do nothing yet and wait a week to see who else is involved.

A week later we called to check in and he told us it was perfect, he caught several staff members pocketing cash and they all fell straight into the trap we set by forcing them to face the covert camera.

The lesson of this story is that by thinking about how people will act when they see a visible camera, you can move the crime into a specific controlled environment where you have a cleverly concealed covert camera and put an end to a problem that may have been plaguing you for years.

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The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

Using Dummy or fake cameras

Many people often suggest that a great way to save money is to buy dummy cameras and rely on the art of bluff to avoid crime. This in some situations can be a good plan, however in most situations the plan is flawed due to the following issues.

The problem with the bluff tactic

If you 100% rely on fake dummy cameras to solve your security woes, you better be sure they look convincing as once the crim works out one is fake, you have lost your entire security solution and the crim will be confident there are no real cameras and that you probably don’t have an alarm as well, even if you have stickers everywhere, and if this is true, the crim will also know that they have plenty of time to go through your home or business without any fear of being caught.

The problems with dummy cameras

Firstly, there is a definite difference in the look of a $300 metal camera with the internal parts visible and a $5 plastic unit without any resemblance to a real camera, and make no mistake, the bad guys can tell as well.

You will also notice many dummy or fake cameras have blinking red light to try and convince people they are real, however real cameras do not have a red blinking light so to a trained or even slightly aware crim, this is a beacon advertising the camera is not real and in in fact a fake camera.

Normally you will also notice the lens of the dummy camera is black plastic and not even transparent, whereas the real camera has a glass lens, this is extremely obvious to anyone who has looked at a real cameras and most manufacturers of dummy cameras do this.

And finally, the cable coming out of the rear of many dummy cameras is a glossy black tube, again bearing no resemblance to a real camera.

A better solution

Rather than buying dodgy looking plastic dummy cameras from your local supermarket or auction site, contact your local security system business like OzSpy and ask if they have any broken or out of date cameras for sale that can be used as dummy cameras.

Every day we sell these at different stores as when we have faulty cameras or cameras that are old and were removed from a job, we cut the cable off and sell them for the same price as a good dummy camera, and as they are a real camera, the crims will never catch you trying to bluff them.

The ideal solution

To ensure you get the maximum protection you really do need to have some real cameras recording what is happening in your home or business, however sometimes you may not have the initial budget to buy all that you need to start with.

To make your system look as big as it needs to be, ask your security advisor when asking for a quote for some broken or old cameras that you can add to the system in the places you cannot afford to install real operational cameras.

This way you can have a small two camera installation with real evidence collection and a range of non-working cameras giving the crims the impression that you are like fort Knox and impenetrable, making them think twice about choosing your home or business as their preferred target.

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How to sweep for bugging devices

How to sweep for bugging devices

Bug Sweeping

Have you ever wondered if you are being bugged or listened to when you are in a private place, and how to sweep for bugs with a detector or what to look out for with your naked eye?

Firstly, it is important that most of the time there is no bug as very often coincidence or deliberate baiting can cause someone to feel like there is a bugging device, but there isn’t.

For the other occasions where you are sure there is a listening device, follow these steps to be sure.

Selecting the right detector

Now, you will need to invest in a bug detector/RF detector, a detector picks up radio frequencies that are transmitted in the room.

Although you still need a good set of eyes to help find the device, they will certainly point you in the right direction. When looking online you will see they can range from a few dollars, to the price of a new car, so what is the difference?

Without going into too many details it all comes down to what they can pick up and what they can’t.


A good quality bug detector:
  • Is generally hand tuned (it is individually tested and tuned for greater sensitivity)
  • Has a higher frequency range (It detects more frequencies therefor more devices)
  • Has better filters (so you don’t detect false signals)
  • Has a sturdy metal case (so it lasts for years)

A cheap detector:
  • Is mass produced (and hardly tested)
  • Has a lower frequency range (or missing segments)
  • Has no filters (so it has lots of false readings)
  • Is plastic and will probably not last


Generally, around the $500 to $2,500 is a good starting point for a reliable detector that will serve you well and last you for years.

Now that you have your detector, what next?

Preparing to sweep

To sweep your home or office you will need to prepare the environment, so turn off your:

  • WIFI
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Cordless phone
  • Mobile phone
  • All other wireless devices
  • Ensure nobody uses the microwave oven

Now theoretically you should have zero transmitting devices, so it’s time to sweep.

But before you start, there are some devices that do give a signal, the most obvious is a flat screen TV or monitor as the processor emits a signal, but other devices with processors may also give a reading, like your PC, or laptop, so don’t be too alarmed if you pick up a signal within 20cm of these devices, this is normal and if you unplug them, the signal should stop immediately.

Now it’s time to calibrate your device.

Most detectors have a sensitivity dial or setting and either a row of LED lights or a clicker/buzzer. You need to stand in the middle of the room and turn the dial up full where all the lights are on, and then slowly turn it down until just the last light is flickering, now your device is calibrated to the area.

Starting the sweep

To get the best results you need to understand the nature of the equipment you are searching for, they will be an audio device with a microphone that transmits, so with this in mind you can easily disregard some places with motors as this will make the bug deaf and unable to pick up voices etc., like fridges, air conditioners, heaters, etc. You can also disregard wet places like kettles, drains, etc., as these will damage the device.

Another thing to know before we start is the RF signals are everywhere and they act like rivers or wind, meaning you can be standing in a river of RF from your local cell tower and not be aware. Have you ever had bad reception on your phone and taken one step and its better? This is important to know as these rivers may flow through your premises and you need to have a strategy to overcome the false readings.

And lastly some bugs can only be detected from about 20cm, so you need to check everywhere, under every table, under every piece of furniture, across every inch of ceiling, across every inch of wall.

When sweeping hold your detector and move your arms in arcs, both horizontal and vertical as antennas can act in a polarised manner, just like batteries, if you put a battery in a device backwards, the device won’t work, if your detector antenna is horizontal and the bug antenna is vertical they won’t detect as well and could be missed.

Now slowly and methodically move through the area performing your arc sweeps checking within 20cm of every surface while you search for unauthorised listening devices. As you move around your lights may increase a little here and there, this is normal and nothing to be concerned about as there is signal everywhere.

If you get a stronger signal use the detector to focus in on the position until the lights are all on, then reduce the detectors sensitivity again and keep honing in until you have found the source.

At this point you should be able to take over with your eyes to look at where the device will be hidden, remembering that electronics need power, so it will either be in another electrical item like a power board, double adapter, lamp, etc., or have a noticeable battery pack. Remember that most listening devices need to last several months so if they cannot access permanent power, the battery pack will be quite large, otherwise they will need to enter and replace batteries every day.

What if it is inside a wall, well before you rip off the plaster board, go around to the other side of the wall and walk backwards, if the signal does not disappear, you may be in a river of RF from a nearby radio tower or cell tower. But if the signal does weaken as you walk away from each side of the wall, it may warrant further investigation, or a call to a professional.

During your sweep keep your eye out for unusual things like any of the following:

  • Hand marks in dusty areas
  • Hand marks around manhole
  • Debris on the floor or other areas from drilling
  • Light switches slightly moved
  • New objects you don’t recognise
  • Small black holes in objects that could have a microphone behind them
  • Your items have been rearranged


If you have an FM radio, slowly go through all the frequencies and see if you can detect an FM listening device. FM transmitters are very common and possibly the most used due to their low price point.

A sweep for bugs should always include a thorough physical inspection of the room for anything that seems out of place. Items such as light switches, light fixtures, smoke alarms, power points, clocks, exit signs, etc. should be thoroughly examined it see if they appear new or a bit out of place.

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Fault finding your broken CCTV system

Fault finding your broken CCTV system

Fault Finding a CCTV System

Have you got a CCTV system that doesn’t work any more, or maybe a couple of cameras are out or even the remote view doesn’t work?

Systems can fail when the power is not pure and has spiked, your system gets too hot, your system builds up dust, you have a faulty component, you get oxidisation on lead contacts, you accidentally change a setting without realising, you change your modem or other network device, your system is a cheap quality or it’s just too old, so we will go through some basic steps to help you get it going again (if possible).

No image on screen

If you can see the lights on your recorder (NVR, DVR or XVR) but there is no image on the screen there could be a few things that have happened which could cause this.

The first step is the check your screen input, many computer monitors can easily switch by touching the front without even realising, if that fails, check your cables, it may be a HDMI or a VGA cable depending on your set-up, however both deliver similar results, except we generally find less issues with VGA cable. If you are using a HDMI cable, try another one, and make sure it is a 4K compatible lead as lower in quality may not be reliable. Once you are sure your lead is ok, but you still don’t have a picture, your recorder output may have been set to a resolution your TV/Monitor does not support, if this is the case, grab a different monitor that is more modern from your PC or borrow one, plug it in and see if that monitor can pick up the image.

If the image is still not there, try a different type of lead, so if you are currently using HDMI, try a VGA lead or vice versa. There is no particular order for the above, and in most cases you will resolve your issue, but make sure if it was an output resolution, go to your recorder display output setting and reduce the output and test on your original monitor, keeping in mind this will reduce the quality of the images you see.

Key points:

Double check your screen is set on correct input
HDMI lead that is 4K and good quality
Try changing from HDMI to VGA lead or vice versa
Try a different monitor and If you get in, try reducing your display output so your existing screen will work again

System won’t boot up (start)

If your entire system won’t boot up, this is normally a power issue or a cable issue and is easy to identify. First check your power supply and make sure it is plugged it, most have a light that is on when they are plugged in, check for that. You will also notice it is warm (sometimes hot), this is normal and shows the unit is powered, if it is stone cold with no light, it could have failed. If it is warm, follow the cable that goes to the recorder and make sure all plugs are securely pushed in, you can also pull them out and push back in to re-seat them.

If the same power supply uses a splitter cable and powers each camera, unplug each camera one by one waiting 5 seconds between and see if the system starts booting up, this is to test if you have a failed camera that is causing the system not to start.

Next you will need a multi-meter and ensure the power supply is putting out the correct voltage, check what is written on the power supply and ensure the multi-meter reads the same voltage within about 1volt difference.

If your power supply is faulty, DO NOT swap with a unit you have at home, CCTV power supplies are specific and have very strict parameters, even though another power supply may read the same, it could kill your entire system including every camera, purchase a CCTV rated power supply with exactly the same voltage, current and brand if possible. We strongly recommend you contact your place of purchase or another CCTV specialty store for a replacement.

The last thing to check is whether the HDD (Hard Drive) has failed and causing a short, this is a rare event, but does happen. To check that you will need to unplug the recorder, open it up, then unplug the HDD inside (you do not need to remove it, just unplug the leads). Once that is done, power it back up and see if the recorder starts, if it does, you need a new HDD.

Key points:

Check power supply, make sure it is correct voltage and working
Check splitter cable or other connectors and re-seat them
Check cameras for short circuit
Check HDD for short circuit

Camera(s) not working

Here it gets a little more complicated as there are many areas, particularly with IP systems, however the basics are as follows.

For Analogue (CVBS), TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, AHD the problems are almost always power, cable, faulty camera, faulty recorder so we will go over each.

The easiest area to check is behind the recorder, check your power supply for the cameras using the same methods as above and unplug then plug back in the connectors to re-seat them, many times your camera(s) will start and away you go. If the cameras do not start and you have some that work and some that don’t, swap the positions where the cameras are plugged into the recorder and see what happens. This will show you whether the input channel is damaged on the recorder or the fault is outside the recorder. If the fault stays on the same channel, regardless of a whether a working camera is plugged in, it’s probably a faulty recorder and needs replacing, if the fault follows the camera, it will be the camera, cable connectors or power supply.

Sometimes you may get rats or mice in your ceiling and surprisingly, they love to eat some brands of cable and this is a more common issue that you would expect, you also get dampness in your eaves so your connectors at the camera end may have started to rust or oxidise causing connector issues. This is hard to fully check, however you can get an idea by looking at your camera at night and checking for the IR red glow, or placing your hand on the camera and feeling if it is warm. If the camera is warm or you can see the glow, at least you know the camera is getting power.

After completing the above you should now know where the fault is re camera vs recorder. To check the actual cable is difficult without testing equipment, however if your cameras are easy to reach, and you are sure the power is getting to the camera (by checking warmth/glow), swap a working camera with a non-working camera and see where the fault goes, if the fault stays on the same channel, you probably have damaged cable or connectors in your ceiling, if the fault stays with the camera, you have a faulty camera that needs replacing.

Key points:

Check connectors and power supply behind recorder
Check power to camera
Swap channels on recorder to see where fault goes
Swap cameras to see where fault goes


For IP cameras it gets a little more tricky as it may be an IP conflict or you have changed your modem and now have a new IP range, if these are the causes, unless you know what these terms mean, you may need an IT/Networking person to assist.

To see if it is the above, try unplugging the network cable that goes between your recorder and modem, this will isolate your system from the rest of the network, restart the NVR recorder and see what happens, if things change and get better, it’s probably network related, if they do not, then try the following.

To see if it is a burnt out channel/port on the NVR, unplug the camera and swap it with a working cameras socket, if the problem stays with the camera it is probably the camera or the cable/connectors, if the problem changes to the other camera, it is probably  a burnt out channel/port on the recorder and your recorder needs replacing.

NVRs use Cat5/6 and RJ45 connectors which like all connectors can oxidise over time and lose connectivity, they are also loved by mice and rats in your ceiling as well as dampness near the camera. The easiest way for an IP system to see if your internal cables are damage is to remove the camera, and plug it into the back of the NVR with a small cable. If the image appears and the camera boots up, you have a cabling issue and your cables in the ceiling may need replacing or at the very least new connectors added. If the camera won’t boot up when plugged into the back of the NVR, you have a faulty camera (unless it’s the above mentioned network issues).

Key points:

Isolate system from network and reboot
Swap connectors on back of recorder to see if it’s the camera or recorder
Remove the camera and plug it into back of recorder using small network cable

Remote view

This is possibly the most common complaint with CCTV and really boils down to a few things that could be causing it. If your recorder is only a couple of years old, you will have P2P remote, which is the superior method, for older systems you would use the riskier method of port forwarding. OzSpy does not perform port forwarding due to the risks associated with it and we strongly recommend you replace your recorder with the new P2P technology.

For P2P systems firstly you may have changed modem or internet provider, which may have changed your network, for a non IP system like Analogue (CVBS), TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, AHD, go into your network settings and click DHCP then reboot your recorder, this should fix your issues and away you go.

For IP systems it may be more complicated and you may be better off setting your gateway of the new modem back to the old gateway address, changing the NVR to DHCP may open up a can of worms for you. We recommend you get professional assistance when IP systems are affected by a new modem.

Sometimes you may also lose remote access because your phone did an update, if this is the case, go to the app developers page and update the app, this will normally fix it. If they do not have an update, wait a few days and check again, most developers stay on top of this.

Lastly if your remote stops for none of the above, you just may be in a bad data area or these is a temporary data issues where the recorder is, this will normally resolve itself within a day or two, or after you are in a better data coverage area.

Key points:

If you changed your modem and your system is not IP activate DHCP in the recorders network settings
If your recorder does not support P2P it’s time to upgrade
Keep your apps up to date
Try later when you are in a better area
Try later, there may be a temporary data throttle

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What the police want in a CCTV system to use as evidence in Australia

What the police want in a CCTV system to use as evidence in Australia

Introduction

Many people are not aware that there are specific rules and guidelines on exactly what the Police require when it comes to CCTV installations and the quality of recording.

This was written for businesses, however the same principles apply for home security.

Face vs crowd

When considering your system, you will need cameras that capture the overview or the crowd, and cameras that capture the face. Generally these are not the same camera as the wide angle cameras are great for capturing the event or crowd, whereas narrower cameras with a greater zoom (aimed at entrances) will capture the face.

The image above from the Police document showing what happens to faces when the image is zoomed and what the police require. You will see that wide angle shots are almost useless when you zoom into the face, and zoomed images are useless when seeing the overall event.

Some of the key Police recommendations

Apart from the most important area discussed above which is a. getting the culprits identification and b. seeing the overall actions, there are quite a few other areas discussed in the downloadable report below.

Here are what we consider to be the key areas.

  1. Ensure your system holds 31 days or more
  2. Ensure you do not reduce quality or frame rates to a point it affects quality
  3. Ensure your compression algorithm does not deteriorate the image quality
  4. Ensure your system restarts into recording mode after power cut
  5. Overlap cameras to avoid gaps
  6. Ensure a high enough frame rate to avoid missing sections
  7. Have some eye level cameras
  8. Avoid back lit areas
  9. Have cameras zoomed to entries and exits for facial shots
  10. Have car park cameras zoomed to entries and exits for number plates
  11. Have both wide shots and identification shots
  12. Keep your system secure
  13. Avoid weather affected camera locations
  14. Regular testing and maintenance

You can download the full report here.

http://www.anzpaa.org.au/about/general-publications/police-recommendations-for-cctv-systems
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How to find IP cameras on your home or business network

How to find IP cameras on your home or business network

Introduction

Here we will go over a couple of simple steps to search your network for IP cameras. This is useful when you are adding your own, or checking if someone else has added one.

There have been times where we scan for cameras we have just added, and found cameras the clients didn’t know were there, so it’s good practice to have a quick check now and then.

http://arllc.net/findipcam/

Advanced IP scanner

If you are looking for a more powerful solution that can scan deeper into your networks and cover more ranges, then we use Advanced IP Scanner.

Firstly you will need to download it from the below link, then once it is installed away you go.

The operation is reasonably straight forward, and to check each IP address, simply add them into IE (internet explorer) as per the web based method and away you go.

The program is free and very well known so there are a lot of resources online on how to get the most out of it.

https://www.advanced-ip-scanner.com

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Things to consider when placing your cameras

Things to consider when placing your cameras

Introduction

CCTV cameras are like your eyes in many ways, they don’t like the sun, quick changes in lighting, headlights, etc., they also work in some scenarios better than others.

So we will discuss some things to consider when designing your system, specifically in relation to camera placement.

Height

Placing your cameras too low so they risk getting stolen is a concern, however placing them too high will only get the top of someone’s head, and if they are wearing a cap, they don’t even need to face down to conceal their identity.

Consider the face shot when placing your cameras.

Another consideration with height is the type of camera, for example domes look neat and are less likely to be bumped or deliberately moved as they are available in vandal resistant, however they cannot look above themselves or if they do, its not by much.

A bullet camera on the other hand can aim slightly up, allowing you greater views from low eaves. You are also less likely to get IR flash as discussed later from bullets as apposed to domes.

Identification shot

The key to getting the money shot is to get the face close enough so it fills about 20% of the screen, or at least enough to see the face clearly, this will ensure the police will accept it as evidence, or at very least help you identify the culprit.

Placing wide angle cameras (which make things look far away) on the front of the house and expecting to clearly make out a face on the street is unlikely in many situations, a better solution would be to have the wide angle camera watching the yard, as well as a narrower lens looking at the entrance.

Where to aim

Only you know what you want to see, however keep in mind where people are likely to enter your property and have those areas covered well, and the other areas can be covered with wide angle lenses just for a record of what happened.

For drive ways, we always use VF (vari-focal) which are adjustable or MVR which are motorised and you can zoom with your phone.

You should also consider a camera looking sideways at the front door to capture this area in great detail.

The truth about night vision

When looking at a camera you will see it’s IR rating in meters. To truly understand this, it is tested in darkness with someone in white overalls and marked as soon as the person’s outline can be seen.

This of course bears little resemblance to a burglar sneaking around in dark clothing.

These are manufacturers specifications and every brand we have ever used (which is virtually every known brand) has night vision that can be disappointing in some situations, however if night vision is really important then we recommend reducing the stated distance by at least 30% to get a better idea of what is “usable night vision footage”.

So if you really want 20 meters night vision, buy a camera that can do 30 meters and you will get a better result.

If you really need excellent night vision, ask for a specialist camera, or one that uses the SONY STARVIS sensor as these are significantly better in low light.

Weather

Although cameras are labelled IP66 Outdoor, you should always select a dry location over a wet one as when it rains and there is water on the lens, your image will be distorted, it will also get much dirtier much quicker, so under an eave or other structure is better.

Sunrise and sunset

Even though we love a good sunrise or sunset, this can play havoc with cameras, causing temporary blindness, erratic night vision, burns on the sensor normally showing as pink or other colour areas or dots, and eventual death.

To avoid this, just position them so they don’t face directly into the sun, so avoid East or West facing cameras that see the horizon.

Shadows

Your cameras have very sensitive software designed to adjust to the average brightness of your image, try and avoid positions where the camera has 50% bright and 50% shadow, in some situations the camera may seem to flash or sometimes be over bright or sometimes too dark.

Cameras can handle some shadows, but keeping this in mind will reduce the chance of any issues.

The more expensive the camera is, the less this likely would be an issue.

IR flash

Every installer will have experienced the issue where during the day, the camera looks great, at night it has either a foggy halo, white haze, low performing night vision or something blindingly white on the screen.

This can be a down pipe too close, the camera bouncing off a white fence, the camera center too close to the mount, the eave within the shot, the house wall too far in the shot.

Whichever scenario causes it, it is all the same, there is the IR night vision light, reflecting back into the camera affecting the light balance.

make sure there is no flash or bounce back and your night vision will improve.

Absolute darkness

Whilst you don’t want IR flash, you do need things to reflect the light back. If you were in the middle of the ocean and shone a torch into the darkness, it would still be dark. Cameras are the same, they have IR which is like an invisible torch, but they need something, preferably light to reflect off to brighten things up.

We see the same camera looking terrible facing into the void, but add some outdoor furniture and scene lights up. This is why some suppliers show indoor night vision shots as they always look a lot better as the IR is reflecting around the room.

Aim at each other

If possible try and make sure your cameras can see at least one other camera, this will prevent people being able to sneak up behind a camera and damage it, it will also make you feel better knowing you have a 100% perimeter cover.

Wide angles for wide areas only

Don’t fall for the trap of buying all super wide angle cameras because they see more, firstly they are almost useless for identification more than 10 meters away and also for skinny areas like the side of the house and the drive. For these areas use a 6mm lens or a VF lens so you can adjust it, you will get a much better result.

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Why should you and how do you keep your CCTV system maintained

Why should you and how do you keep your CCTV system maintained

Introduction

There are many factors that will contribute towards the ultimate demise of your CCTV system and although they are very simple to avoid, most people will simply forget to include their security system into their regular maintenance routine.

So here we are to offer some help, and hopefully keep you a little safer.

Reminders

The first step to a healthy CCTV system is, set a reminder, at least every three months to follow the below maintenance routine and keep you system working. You can set it on your phone, your calendar, or you can use our free service where we send you an email every three months with a gentle reminder and some tips on keeping your system perfect.

Our system is automated and you don’t even need to have one our our systems, just add yourself to the system below and leave whenever you wish.

Join our free maintenance list

Cobwebs

Spiders love the warmth of your cameras and it can be very annoying as they appear regularly and despite removing them, they keep coming back. The problem with cobwebs it that they may affect the focus of your camera, but more annoyingly they will set off motion detection as they blow in the breeze.

Although there is not much you can do, there are a few little tricks.

  1. spray surface spray around the camera, but not on it as it could damage the weather seals
  2. ensure there are no bushes or branches nearby
  3. keep in the habit of brooming them off

Never hose off your cobwebs as cameras are not designed for water pressure and you may ruin or at least damage your camera.

Grime

As cameras are electronic, they do attract dust and road grime, this is a slow process taking months, but eventually your cameras will look terrible, blurry and dull.

The way to clean them is with a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth and you will need to do this every few months. This is worth considering when placing your cameras.

We regulary get warranty calls for defective cameras that just need a wipe.

Please do not wash with water or hose as this may ruin or damage your cameras.

Memory leakage

Whilst many people don’t know why, we all know that when your PC, or mobile gets laggy, a restart is required. Often but not always  this is caused by memory leakage where the memory starts filling up with leftover fragments, eventually chocking the device.

XVRs, DVRs and NVRs can also get this and most are already set to restart in the middle of the night at least once per week. Check your recorder in the maintenance section and make sure it does, this will stop it eventually crashing without your knowledge and you may miss the evidence you need.

If you have a PTZ or your cameras are powered separately from you recorder, you should get in the habit of restarting them manually or adding a timer to the power point with at least weekly reboots.

Many times this is not needed, but sometimes it is and if you live in an area with dirty power, a nightly restart of your system may help.

Hard drive failure

Even the best quality HDDs can fail, particularly in a CCTV system where they are recording 24/7. The easiest way to check this is simply to play back some recordings every now and then, if your drive has failed you won’t be able to.

At OzSpy all our installed CCTV systems come with a surveillance grade HDD which are considerably more expensive and reliable, however almost all DIY systems or cheaper system have a standard HDD which will probably fail within the first two years, and sometimes even sooner depending on the quality of the system.

Once the HDD fails, your system stops dead in its tracks, so keep your eye on it.

Keep your manual handy

One of the easiest things to do to get the most of your system is to keep your manual handy, even if you get to know it well at the start, six months later when something happens, you may need the manual quickly. We recommend keeping it with the recorder at all times.

We  hope this has helped you get the most out of your CCTV system.

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Has your cctv system been hacked

Has your cctv system been hacked

Has your cctv system been hacked?

There are two primary methods of hacking a CCTV system (apart from someone knowing your password and logging in to see what you are doing).

There are also different areas that can be hacked, for example in a coax based system, it will be primarily the recorder that gets hacked, however IP systems can have each camera hacked as well as the recorder.

This is what you may see after a hack, or you may not see anything if the hacker is using your cameras to put you under surveillance.

Brute force attack

What is a brute force attack you may ask?

A brute force attack is a trial-and-error method used to obtain information such as a user password or personal identification number (PIN). In a brute force attack, automated software is used to generate many consecutive guesses of the password until it gets it right.

What this means is that once the hacker has found your password protected CCTV system, they run a small program that simply continues to guess and submit passwords until it finds the right one.

Brute force attacks are old school hacking and have been around since the start of the computer industry and are well and truly dealt with by all the PC manufacturers now by freezing the account after a few incorrect passwords are submitted.

Your CCTV system however is unlikely to have that simple method to protect itself, so the brute force attack can simply run forever until it finds the correct password, and if you have a simple one like 0000 or 1234 or similar, it will only take a few mins to hack your system.

If you have a very complex password like Xt56!!VV568qw34 it would take the brute force attack up to 100 years to guess your password, making it immeasurably safer.

Default or no password

The next method of hacking is even scarier and again, is caused by the owner of the CCTV system, and that there is no password at all, or using the default password.

Almost all CCTV manufacturers use a set of default passwords, these may be 888888 or 111111, or 12345, or admin, or password, etc., these are there so you can access the system when installing it BEFORE YOU CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.

To find the default password for a particular brand, you just have to search Google for default password for [your brand DVR] and there it is, in fact many sites list all default passwords as a service.

To avoid this and to protect yourself, add a password and write it down. Make sure it is a complex password so you can avoid the brute force attacks as well.

Remember though, when you change your password, you need to record it somewhere as sometimes if you forget, we may not be able to recover it for you, rendering your device inaccessible.

What to do if you have been hacked.

1. Reset the recorder back to factory defaults.

2. Install latest firmware for the particular model if available.

3. Make sure passwords are changed from factory defaults for both admin and any other account on the device.

4. If any cameras were connected but still black after doing this you need to adjust the brightness setting on the camera as it may be on zero level.

Also, ensure you do not use port forwarding on your modem and only use P2P remote access to view your cameras.

If your DVR/NVR is not capable of P2P, then we recommend you upgrade your recorder immediately.

Here is a video from an IT security company that discusses these issues, it is well worth the time to watch it.

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CCTV and Security Camera FAQs

CCTV and Security Camera FAQs

When purchasing a CCTV security camera system there are many terms used in the industry that mean little to anyone else, and sometimes an unscrupulous salesperson will use this against you and try and baffle you with the jargon.

We hope you find our CCTV FAQs helpful in the daunting task of understanding the technology so you can make the right choice for your situation.

What is HD and all the terms like 1080P 720P, CIF, D1, 960H, 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP, 5MP, 6MP, etc.

All these terms refer to camera resolution or recorder resolution (but mostly cameras) which is the absolute key to selecting a great CCTV system that will meet your needs.

CIF is 360 x 240. (86,400 total pixels)

D1 is 720 x 480. (345,600 total pixels)

960H is 960 x 480. (460,800 total pixels)

The above three in our humble opinion are totally unusable for evidence and considered junk now. This quality system is a common one sold in department stores and auction sites. Virtually every day we go to sites and rip them down and bin them as there has been an event and police would not accept the footage. If you look at the total pixels which is what the image is built on a CIF system has 86k verses the most common HD (1080P) which has 2m which is 24 times clearer.

The below are HD camera resolutions, the easiest way to tell is look for the MP (mega pixel) rating like 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, etc., or the P at the end of the number like 720p, 1080p etc. If you are thinking about a security camera system, we strongly advise that you stick with HD, otherwise you are throwing your money away.

1MP 720p is 1280 x 720. (921,600 total pixels) – ok for small areas but not ideal when evidence is required

2MP 1080p is 1920×1080. (2,073,600 total pixels) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

3MP is 2048 x 1536. (3,145,728 total pixels) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

4MP is 2592*1520. (3,939,840 total pixes) – Great for small areas and ok for larger like a small yard

5MP is 2560 x 1920. (4,915,200 total pixels) – Great for small areas and good for large areas

6MP is 3072*2048. (6,291,456 total pixels) – Great for small areas and good for large areas

8MP is 4K UHD 3840×2160. (8,294,400 total pixels) – Great for small and larger areas

12MP is 4K 4000*3000. (12,000,000 total pixels) – Great for small and large areas

33MP 8K UHD 7680×4320. (33,177,600 total pixels) – Not commonly used for security

What do all the acronyms describing cameras mean like AHD, TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, IP and CVBS?

There are several different processor manufacturers globally and each have their own processors which are very similar and pretty much make AHD, TVI and CVI the same or at least indistinguishable from each other unless side by side.

Basically they are:

AHD, TVI & CVI = These are the preferred technologies for 8MP and under and the most commonly used in homes and businesses for 1MP, 2MP, 3MP, 4MP as they deliver great quality, there is no latency (delay), they are perfect for replacing an old analogue (CVBS) system using existing cable and compared to IP they are very cost effective. At OzSpy we use all three of these technologies often depending on the specific requirement of the client.

IP = Internet Protocol and in most cases strictly adheres to this. IP mostly uses Cat5/5e/6 cable and although can really deliver some great resolutions, there are issues with dropping frames segments (you lose parts of the stream) and latency of around 10-15 seconds meaning if you are watching something on the screen it probably happened 15 seconds ago. At OzSpy we use IP mainly for large industrial sites and for the connoisseur wanting very high resolutions.

CVBS = Standard old analogue systems which are nowadays not seen as evidence level and the footage is often (or mostly) rejected by the police. We do not supply or install CVBS cameras due to them no longer being recognised as evidence level recording. If you are wondering if a system is CVBS then look for terms like: D1, 960h, CIF, etc. Make sure the cameras and recorder are 1280 x 720 or over, anything less will not provide the evidence you need when something goes wrong, and even todays high standards, you may be better to stick with a 2MP (1080p) system to be sure.

HD-SDI = This was a great interim technology a few years ago and was originally developed for TV broadcasting. This tech delivers great quality, however it is expensive, difficult to find replacement parts for some systems and very finicky in regards to the cable type used making it not that good for retro fitting to HD. We no longer supply or install this tech unless it is finding a rare replacement part for a client.

What is a DVR/NVR and what is the difference?

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder and NVR stands for Network Video Recorder.  Basically they are the recording unit in a CCTV system, DVR for coax based systems and NVR for IP (network) based systems.

Most people will tell you the quality of the picture is dictated by the cameras which is true to an extent, however it doesn’t matter how good the cameras are if the recording unit is poor quality.

Arguably this is the critical component as the recorder has most of the features like remote view, motion detection, alerts etc. At OzSpy we only sell and install systems that have the latest features whilst maintaining reliability and picture quality. You should also note that a cheap DVR/NVR may not only be unreliable and poor quality recording, it may also be so complicated you will need an expert to assist in general use.

How many days recording can a DVR/NVR store?

The length of archive depends on number of cameras, frames per second (FPS) and amount of available hard disk space (HDD). The other setting that can effect this is motion detection, however some DVRs will still record constantly whilst there is no motion at a reduced rate.

For a typical four camera 1080P 2MP system recording 24/7 @ 12 fps you will get approx. 1 week storage from a 1TB HDD. See frame rates below to see how to increase this.

What frame rate is needed?

FPS (frames per second) is pretty much how it sounds as it describes how many photos are taken per second by the security camera to make the video. When you watch TV it is 25 fps however the human eye has difficulty discerning the difference between 12 and 25 and to be honest if you are recording even at six frames per second then each second you will get six photos so it really doesn’t make much difference. Not much can happen between the frames unless it is a road with fast moving vehicles, then a higher frame rate is recommended.

Remember the HDD storage time will double each time you halve the fps, for example as above the 1080P camera on a 1TB HDD will last a week @ 12fps, whereas @ 6 fps the same system will hold two weeks recording.

What is motion detection and how does it work?

The easiest way to explain motion detection is that the DVR/NVR will compare each frame (photo) and look for any difference. The difference is then calculated as a percentage and compared to your sensitivity setting. If something doesn’t match it marks the recording as motion.

Most DVRs and NVRs give you the option to record motion and/or record full time, as well as features like email notification etc.

Can I view live and recorded video remotely?

Yes, you can view live and recorded video from anywhere through the Internet. All OzSpy branded DVRs have a wizard that will set your system and your mobile device for remote view in a matter of minutes.

What kind of broadband do I need for remote view?

This is a complex question as a typical connection between your phone and the recorder may include several servers and satellites as well, and if any of these are slow, you will be affected. If you are running a cheap system with low resolution, an old adsl account will suffice, but if you are running 8mp or similar, any disruption will cause connection issues and patchy playback. For over 3mp you need NBN or above to get a quality playback and live view and if there are any bottlenecks you may have connection issues.

Can several users view one site at once?

Most systems allow multiple users to view the same site simultaneously. However, as more people look at the same cameras/DVR at the same time, the bandwidth will be shared between them.

You can also set different users for different access to ensure that the users who you do not want to be able to delete footage cannot.

Can I watch several sites on one screen?

Yes as long as each DVR is the same brand you can ask your supplier for the CMS software which will allow you to watch up to 128 cameras on the screen with unlimited locations, however this takes a super fast internet connection due to the massive amounts of data.

Will it work on my Mac and Win10 machine as well as Android and iPhone?

Yes all our OzSpy branded DVRs are cross platform and will work on all devices, however generally Macs are more difficult to get working than Win10 so we do not offer tech support for Mac computers.

Can I record audio?

Yes, if the Security DVR system comes with an audio option you can record audio. Most cameras do not come with built in audio as it effects the weather proof capabilities, so you may need a separate audio module which we have available on request.

How many cameras do I need?

Generally most small business and homes have between four and eight cameras. We recommend you invest in an eight channel recorder even if you get four cameras as most people decide later on that they need an extra camera or two. If you buy an eight channel at the start you can add extra cameras for the cost of the camera and cable only.

What style of camera should I go with?

Basically, despite hundreds of shapes and sizes it boils down to a dome shape or a bullet shape when considering an average system.

Bullet cameras are better at handling adverse weather conditions and have more flexibility in relation to aiming them. They are however more vulnerable to tampering and theft so make sure they are high enough not to be pulled down by a rope or by hand.

Dome cameras are better at anti tampering, however they are best used under an eave (soffit) to avoid direct exposure to the elements.

As far as image quality goes there is no difference as they are just housings and have the same camera inside.

If night vision is important, we recommend a SONY Starvis security camera which will deviler significantly better night vision.

What is Lux?

Illumination is measured in units called Lux. The easiest way to understand when looking at a CCTV camera is the 0.1 Lux is similar to the light when there is a full moon and no clouds. 

Virtually all cameras have IR which enables them to see in pitch darkness which makes the Lux rating less important unless it is for a very specific task.

Can I zoom in with a camera?

Yes, but you need a special camera called a Pan-Tilt-Zoom or PTZ camera or a motorised lens camera.

PTZ cameras can pan left and right, tilt up and down and zoom whilst motorised cameras cannot change direction but can zoom in and out which can be very handy in certain situations.

If you are using 1080P (HD) cameras or above you can also digital zoom in on the image after recording, however the lower the resolution the less effective this is.

We hope that this has helped you in your quest to select the right system for your needs. Please give us a call if you require further information as we are happy to help.

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Spy Cameras Buyers Guide

Spy Cameras Buyers Guide

What types of spy cameras are available?

Nowadays you can buy spy cameras anywhere ranging from a $5 eBay item to a $4,000 handmade 4G remote surveillance system from OzSpy, and everything between. And make no mistake, you do get what you pay for. In 2015 we purchased 200x $20 spy pens to offer a cheaper line, the failure rate ended up being 89%.  We hear similar stories often when people tell us about the failures they had with cheap units.

When choosing a spy camera, think to yourself. Is it a mission critical recording?. Meaning you may only get one chance to get the evidence, and does it have to be used as evidence? If you answer yes to either then you should really research what you need and choose wisely. If the camera is detected or fails to record you may never get another chance.

There are cameras built into many things from pens to clocks, light bulbs to picture frames. We also build them into existing furniture so if you need one in your premises you can bring in something and we will build a camera into it. This makes spotting a camera much harder as they are impossible to research online since it is a one of a kind.

People also refer to them in different ways now, an example is a Nanny cam. You may think it’s a camera for nannies, but it just means a hidden camera that blends into a home. There are other specific terms like clock cameras, watch cameras, smoke detector cameras, etc. Basically they just refer to the case it is mounted in. The electronics inside hardly changes between cases, but between suppliers it can vary a lot.

Normally spy cameras do not have IR night vision and even when they do it is next to useless, so whenever looking at a spy cameras, even if it says IR night vision, don’t expect it to see more than one meter or so.

If it is as big as your thumb (roughly), you can put a camera in it.

What makes a great spy camera?

There are several things that make a great spy camera, including reliability, clear picture, ease of use and quality so it works when you need it to. It is also vital to consider power/battery life and recording times as there vary considerably.

When purchasing a spy cam, it is important that it blends in well and isn’t identified as a spy camera. The last thing anyone wants is when they are trying to catch a perpetrator of a crime and the perpetrator notices the spy camera then makes themselves look like they are totally innocent in front of the camera or even steals the camera.

This is one of the major challenges today as most spy cameras are mass produced so even if people see something suspect, say a smoke detector, they can easily search for smoke detector hidden camera which will undoubtedly give them information on what they look like and make no mistake, mass produced smoke detector cameras look nothing like a real smoke detector you would buy at your local hardware store. Thus not only rendering the covert camera useless, but worse than that, allowing them to modify their actions in front of the camera to cloud the facts.

For this very reason, unless you are looking for a novelty item to muck around with the only safe method is to build your own or look at a custom built camera. OzSpy has been building custom cameras for 20 years and although they are more expensive due to the time it takes to build them manually they are usually the only choice for many situations where the collection of evidence is critical.

Generally we look for:

  • 1080p (or above) resolution for clear recording
  • Wi-Fi connectivity for stationary units for remote view and notification
  • The ability to run permanently on power as many cannot do this and batteries go flat
  • True colours in most lighting as many low cost units can distort colours
  • Reliability so for a mission critical job you can be confident the system will get the evidence
  • Unique appearance that does not look like a hidden camera and is not searchable on the internet

What features are important when choosing a spy camera?

This really depends on what you need, for a nanny camera just designed to record the actions of a baby sitter a self recoding unit is perfect as you can remove the SD card and play it back in your phone, tablet or PC when you get home.

If you are away and need to monitor an empty house that you feel someone is sneaking people into you would probably prefer a unit with an app or can email you so you get notified as soon as it happens.

How about you are an investigator you may need something that looks like a rock where you can place it into a garden and watch the people entering and leaving the house from the comfort of your car or office.

Maybe you think a friend of the family is sneaking into the bedroom and stealing while you are either at home or away then a spy camera with email or an app will let you know as soon as they enter the room without them being alerted at all.

Or perhaps you are worried about your teenager sneaking out at night through the window or sneaking people in through the window you would place an outdoor camera outside thus still protecting the teenager’s privacy whilst gathering the evidence you need to confront them.

We can gear cameras for any situation and connect through your internet or create a private 3G/4G network so our cameras can be accessed from anywhere in the world and our cameras can be pretty much placed anywhere.

So what we hope you get from this article is that whether you buy from us or any other reputable supplier, ensure your spy camera will get the results you need at evidence level without the embarrassment of getting caught out yourself by placing an easily detectable spy camera…

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Bug Detector Buyers Guide

Bug Detection Buyers Guide

Buying a bug detector may not be a sign of paranoia or an unwarranted worry. There are many ways other people can bug your room and tap into your private life.

The head of a screw attached to a wooden cabinet can covertly record your every move and word. Covert listening devices, also known as bugs or wires, can be fitted into small, inconspicuous, everyday items such as pens, calculators, and even shirt buttons.

If you have any suspicions that you might have been bugged by a business competitor or a distrustful spouse, you have to search for those bugs and disable them or knowing where they are you can provide false conversations to them.

You cannot simply look for them as you need a detector to show you where to look. An office block or a normal house would take days to search for with the likelihood of finding it without a bug detector slim at best.

Bug detection is a mix of a quality detector and a keen human eye, without either the process is flawed and you are unlikely to find what you are looking for or you are likely to feel there are bugs everywhere.

Detectors

The first thing to know about Bug Detectors, like most other surveillance technologies is that you get what you pay for. Professionals spend 10s of thousands of dollars on a detector for the primary reason that they detect at a high level.

The majority of people of course could never expect to spend that, however spending $100 or even under that to protect a company or someone in a relationship break-up is probably not worth the investment.

Most detectors over about $400 are handmade, or at least hand tested individually so you know they actually pick up bugging devices. Many below that range are mass produced with turnover in mind second to the unit actually working.

So since Bug detectors range from under $100 to about $10,000, the question begs as to why the price range, yet the cheaper ones seem to cover just as much, if not more.

Well it comes down to the following:

Filters

The first thing that improves with price are filters. Although the cheaper units pick up everything, and we mean everything, the better quality units can filter out ambient signals. For example a cheap unit will pick up a nearby radio station, but a professional unit will know it’s a radio station etc. and allow that to be blocked. This saves you smashing a hole in the wall or dismantling furniture because the local radio station transmission stream appears to come from there.

The other thing a better detector has (from about $200+) is that you have a sensitivity dial. So you can start it up and adjust dial so with ambient signals, the detector is quiet. Then when you get near a device you can clearly see the change. Without a good sensitivity adjustment things can appear quite scary.

Frequency coverage

You really need to get a bug detector that covers from about 1MHz to 6GHz to cover the majority of the risks, however for a serious threat a detector that goes over 20GHz would be recommended.

The better units will have a more defined and accurate frequency range without blind spots. For example we have used detectors made for UK, in Australia they can miss certain 3G areas. This when combined with the new series of GSM bugs being 3G compatible clearly that detector becomes less likely to find some bugs.

Quality/reliability

Most people cannot test to see if a bug detector actually does what it says. At best you can call someone on a cordless phone or mobile and see what happens. Since you are testing only a possible few hundred frequencies out of a possible 25 billion it is hard to know if you are safe and if the detector actually works at all.

Monitoring options or protection mode

Some premium detectors have what is called protection mode and earphones. This allows you to go through all the detections, listen to them and mark as safe. The detector will ignore them in the future and only detect new devices.

A good detector will notify in between a few seconds and a minute or so when a new transmitter is detected making the detection of new devices and burst bugs much easier.

These offer a far greater layer of protection, but come at a price.

Some other features you may find in detection equipment

  • Audio plug so you can listen to the bug via earphones from the detector
  • Silent mode with vibration
  • Silent mode with display
  • Signal strength graph which is vital for locating bugging devices
  • Protection mode as discussed above
  • Rechargeable
  • Frequencies from 0.5MHz to 25GHz (and more)
  • Robust metal housing as they do get knocked around

Types of bugs

Standard RF Transmitter

A standard RF (radio frequency) transmitter is without doubt the easiest to detect as they constantly pour out a stream of RF which makes them easy to detect and track. These transmitters are most common with low end systems and homemade devices and normally run on VHF and UHF frequencies.

GSM

GSM bugs are harder to detect as they are dormant whilst not transmitting and furthermore the signal is the same as the ambient mobile phone signals in the area.

GSM bugs are widely available online, however most are 2G which is in an end of life cycle in Australia. 3G units are more expensive and less widely used.

A detector that can support a protect mode will be more suitable for these devices.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi bugs are also sometimes used and these can be both sometimes easy to detect and sometimes more difficult due to the ambient Wi-Fi signals in your area.

Basically the same rules apply as GSM and burst bugs, however sometimes if you notice a new Wi-Fi device when you scan with your mobile it can be a clue.

Burst

A burst bug has a memory, so generally they record to themselves all day and then transmit the days recording in a short burst. These are harder to detect as they are only transmitting a detectable signal for a short time each day, normally in the early hours whilst people are asleep.

Burst bugs are not as common, but are widely used by a more professional surveillance expert, or someone they advise.

A detector that can support a protect mode will be more suitable for these devices.

Self-recording (retrievable)

Opinions vary about these, but from our experience self-recorders, like voice recorders etc. generally are extremely difficult to detect, however these units need to be accessed every couple of days or so to recharge and extract recordings from.

Most users of these have several units and will visit the location and do a quick swap.

Electronic bug detection in a DIY format is unlikely to detect these, however they are normally placed in an easily accessible place and are at least the size of your thumb so they can be found with a physical search.

Hidden cameras

This subject really needs an article all by itself as the detection of wireless cameras can be more difficult. However if you have a quality detector and purchase a separate lens detector or small hidden camera detector with lens detector (these have an eyepiece to look through which makes lenses shine or even sparkle) then you will have a good shot at finding it.

Basic use

Each and every bug detector has varied and unique features and to get the most out of your new detector you should study it and search the web and YouTube for bug detection techniques.

In the most simplistic form you should follow these rules:

You may not detect some bugs until you are 0.5m away, so put the detector everywhere

The antenna length alters the frequency sensitivity so if you get a detector with telescopic antenna sweep once full extended and once only extended a few inches

Signals are polarised similar to batteries, this means if you are holding the antenna up and the bug is horizontal it will be harder to detect. Always sweep vertically in an arc and then horizontally in an arc. This will cover most angles.

Preparation

A general sweep of the house or office and make note of each signal, then turn off the mains and check again. This will help you identify signals that are affected by turning off the mains.

Most good bugs are independent from power, however some rely on it, so although this will not tell you in a simple yes or no format if there is something there, when some common sense is applied you should quickly discern if a particular device is acting suspiciously.

Some household items will always show up, these may include your flat screen TV, some fridges and other devices. If the item in question still has output after turned off at the power point then further investigation may be required.

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What Makes a Great CCTV System

What makes a great security camera set-up and what to look out for with changing technology

For anyone who has ever looked at, or purchased a security camera system, you will see the industry and the technology changes at a rapid pace, like the computer industry, particularly in the last couple of years. This has not only left the buyer confused, but has also left many in the industry scrambling to keep up and still offering less than ideal solutions. We will discuss what makes a great system and what is the best value tech for small business, home security, and other smaller installations.

When thinking security cameras, the most common purpose is to catch a perpetrator, or deter theft or both. With such a simple task one would think it’s just a matter of putting some cameras up and away you go. This is rarely the case as there are many variables to consider.

Firstly, you will need a system that records at a quality that is considered as evidence grade, which means that if you get a great recording of a crime, will the police accept it, will the courts accept it, and will it show clearly what the event was? This is not produced by ensuring a certain resolution as many cameras on the market have great resolution, but poor colour reproduction under certain lighting conditions which may turn a red jumper purple. Other set-ups may have a great camera that simply is mis-positioned, or worst of all a camera that simply doesn’t stack up or the recorder skips sections like many IP systems on the market.

You will also need to decide on the focus, is it to catch them or deter them, as a system built to deter crime can be very different to a system designed to catch a particular person or persons. You may decide you want both which is fine, however your security consultant may recommend a blend of overt cameras for general deterrence and a couple of covert cameras to deal with an ongoing problem. Quite often the covert cameras will be moveable so you can use them to deal with issues as the issues move around.

So now you have decided what you want to achieve, next comes all the jargon like AHD, TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, IP and CVBS when selecting the technology base. To clearly explain all the finer details, we simply won’t have the space here, however there are some basics. CVBS is old outdated analogue tech, they now use this acronym and it somehow has distanced the tech from the fact it really belongs in the tip and will never produce what you need. Another easy tech to put aside is HD-SDI, this was developed for the film industry, and even though it a great performer picture wise, it is expensive, less stable, and more difficult to find spares.

Now for IP, IP systems are built on network protocols and make no mistake, several years ago it was the go to tech as there simply was no other way to get a mega pixel image, the problem with IP is that if too much movement happens at once over several cameras, the recorder simply skips the footage to “catch up”. This makes IP a very disappointing technology for many business owners as they will be missing segments of a few seconds here and there when the cameras get too busy. IP however is the best tech for complex installations like warehouses etc. as it allows for wireless bridging and larger expandable systems. IP also has the best analytics like facial, people counting and various other business analytical add-ons.

Lastly are the front runners for small to medium businesses, and are what we at OzSpy use in most of our jobs assisting franchise systems and businesses in general. They are AHD, TVI, and CVI, all of which can produce up to 8MP over coax which allows for old analogue (CVBS) installations to be upgraded to mega pixel quality at a very low price as the old cable is reused. There is little difference in the picture quality, however AHD is an open source product so it develops faster and can also have cable runs of up to 500m or more, but is more prone to hacking and low quality manufacturing, whereas TVI is often used by higher quality suppliers.

Okay, now we have your cameras and purpose of the system decided upon, what other features or tech do you need? Well, make no mistake, the heart of any great CCTV system is the DVR (digital video recorder) or for IP the NVR (network video recorder) as this is where it all comes together.

You should look at the GUI (user interface) and see if it is intuitive, simple to use and makes sense to you. If it looks complicated, you may never actually learn how to use it and the system will get pushed aside and placed in the too hard basket. At OzSpy we constantly help businesses replace their DVRs for no other reason except it was so complicated that it was unusable to the business owner and their team. Don’t let a technician with decades of experience in CCTV assure you it’s simple, look for yourself and make sure you will be comfortable operating it.

Your DVR/NVR should also have P2P remote access. This is very important as this allows you to access your cameras from your mobile devices and remotely without opening ports in your router and firewall which in today’s cyber security age is an unacceptable risk to any business or even home.

So now you have your purpose, cameras and recorder sorted, what next?

Well there are a couple more points to ensure you get the most out of it. Make sure you use a licensed cabler as poorly run cable, or cheap cable can easily turn an amazing security camera system into an unreliable, grainy system that simply never seems to work properly.

Take on the responsibility of learning the system, ask your installers to train you and your key team members, ask for any quick guides they have and provide them to the team or have them next to the recorder. In a mission critical event, you do not want to be calling your provider and asking how to operate the unit.

And lastly, maintain your system, each month wipe the cameras, clean the cobwebs, and check that the system is operating correctly, don’t wait until an event to find out your cameras are blurry or worse your recorder stopped recording months ago and nobody noticed.

Remember, if you get the blend right, you will have an easy to use, reliable, effective security camera system that will last for years and will exceed your expectations every time you use it, that does not have to cost the earth.

Craig Mitchell
Director OzSpy Pty Ltd
www.ozspy.com.au

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Is a Security Alarm System right for you

Is a Security Alarm System right for your situation?

Security alarms are a deterrent and may limit the amount of property stolen or damaged in a burglary event. For decades security alarms have been the most commonly used form of home security, however in recent years home security camera systems have become increasingly popular due to modern technology and affordability.

The cost of installing an alarm system can be relatively expensive depending upon the existing wiring configuration of your home. Most security systems will activate a local alarm when an armed zone is tripped, but not all will dial-out to a security firm. There are additional costs of alarm monitoring services for this service.

First you need to determine whether you want both external and internal areas covered by a security alarm as most alarms are designed for internal use. If you only need internal intrusion monitoring (you live in an apartment for example) an alarm system may be perfectly adequate.

Before deciding on an alarm system you should consider the following questions:

  1. Do you want a security alarm system that you can self-install?
  2. Do you need a back-to-base monitoring service for the alarm?
  3. Do you have pets or other animals that could set off motion detectors?
  4. Do you want a security alarm system that will dial-out to a security firm or your cell phone when intrusion is detected?
  5. Do you want a security alarm system that will sound a local alarm only when intrusion is detected?
  6. Do you need a back-up system in case the power goes out?

Advantages of Security Alarms

Home security alarms can be an effective deterrent to unwanted intrusions. Amateur or opportunistic thieves in particular may be scared off by the unwanted attention an alarm might attract and find another target once they become aware that there is an alarm system in the home.

If they are not aware that your home is alarmed and unwittingly set off an alarm during a home intrusion they are less likely to hang around. More importantly they will probably flee without most of your valuable possessions.

Disadvantages of Security Alarms

Professional criminals know that even if they do activate an alarm they probably still have enough time to grab the most valuable items and get out before someone comes to investigate.

An alarm will do nothing to stop an opportunistic thief from entering your home and snatching purses, wallets and other valuables while you are in another room or out in the back yard because you won’t have the alarm switched on.

A security alarm probably won’t help protect your car, boat or other outside possessions from being stolen or damaged.

If you do become a burglary victim there will be little, if any way for police to identify and track down the intruders and convict them.

An alarm can also be a hassle – having to turn it on every time you leave the house and then remembering to turn it off as soon as you open the door upon your arrival home is a bug bear for some people. Also an alarm system can easily be triggered accidently with pets and children being the main culprits.

Types of Security Alarm Systems

The first decision you need to make with an alarm system is whether to choose a hard wired (fully installed) system or a wireless system.

A hard wired system is usually more effective, however it will also come at a greater price due to installation costs. With a wireless system key components of your home security system are battery-powered and communicate with a monitor device inside your home.

A wireless alarm system is easy to install and will save you money on installation costs. A wireless alarm system is also portable, meaning that you can take it with you when you move. For people who rent or move house regularly, a wireless alarm system is ideal because they can easily pack up a wireless system and set it up again in their next residence.

One issue to be aware of with a wireless alarm is that the signal can be disrupted by other household interference so you need to be careful with placement.

Regardless of what you decide upon it is important to understand that a security system is no substitute for a lack of basic security awareness at home. Being careless or carefree with basic security procedures all but invites opportunistic thieves.

For example, leaving valuables and keys etc. in full view from outside of the house with windows open and doors unlocked when you are in another part of the house is not a good practice.

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Counterfeit CCTV Systems

Warning many CCTV suppliers are selling counterfeit or grey market security cameras, DVRs and NVRs both in Australia and to Australia from abroad.

Over the last few years we have seen a massive increase in counterfeit security cameras and recorders in Australia, in fact we are often called to replace new systems that were installed by companies not using genuine products and the client has blown thousands of dollars on junk.

Firstly to understand, there are several layers in this issue:

Counterfeit black market products – These are as stated actual counterfeit, the casing looks almost exactly the same. We sat a Hikvision genuine and counterfeit and until we plugged them in it was impossible to tell them apart. Once we saw the picture quality and software it was painfully obvious.

Grey market products – These are used, recycled or not designed for Australian conditions like temperature, power, safety standards and video signal requirements. Again until you plug it in side by side you wouldn’t know.

The two main brands that we see a lot of are Hikvision and Dahua, both are leading brands and both are massively counterfeited.

Hikvision

Here you can download the Hikvision statement

Here is an excerpt:
We warn potential customers against purchasing these “black market” or “grey market” products from unauthorized distributors. Unauthorized distributors are selling counterfeit, used, modified or damaged products. Many of the products sold by unauthorized distributors have been altered in various ways, meaning that they are unsuitable for Australian conditions and may be non-compliant with Australian Standards. Also, because these products are no longer in original factory condition, Hikvision warranty is void, per company policy.

Dahua

Dahua’s statement is here and they list some of the dodgy sites selling them

Here is an excerpt:
the products brought from the unauthorized channels may be counterfeit and shoddy products. Dahua is unable to guarantee to provide the warranty services and technical support for the products brought from the unauthorized channels. Please purchase from the authorized channels.

OzSpy

We too can purchase counterfeit cameras at 60% less than genuine and they look the same. Just like a Bali Lois Vuitton hand bag, the real one lasts a lifetime, the Bali copy lasts a few months. At OzSpy we understand you need your system to keep on working (longer than a few months to a year) so we simply won’t sell inferior products just to be the cheapest.

You

If you get a quote on Hikvision, Dahua or many other brands and it seems cheaper than the rest, you should ask yourself, “Can these possibly be genuine”, and we think you will already know the answer.

Caveat Emptor – A neo-Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware.” It is a principle of contract law in many jurisdictions that places the onus on the buyer. So don’t risk getting ripped off and supporting the counterfeit industry, be aware and make sure who you buy your cameras from has been around for decades, has a good name and is not offering you a deal that sounds too good to be true.

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What Crims Don’t Want You To Know

What the criminals don’t want you to know about protecting your home and your possessions

The Real Cost of Burglary

One of the easiest crimes to prevent — burglary — is also one of the most common. In the time it takes you to read just this article up to a dozen burglaries will have been committed against home owners somewhere in Australia. If it happens at your home, you lose more than a few possessions.

A break-in, even when you’re not there, has a major impact on you and your family’s sense of safety and well-being.

For most people, burglary is distressing. For some, it means the loss of precious possessions or items with sentimental value that can’t be replaced. For others, it means the loss that comes from being uninsured or under insured, or the inconvenience and time involved with making a claim and waiting while goods are replaced.

Many victims of burglary say that the biggest impact is the sense of violation – of someone invading their personal, private space, their home. It has nothing to do with material or financial loss, and it’s not the same thing as feeling insecure or vulnerable which also happens.

But burglaries don’t have to happen. There are a lot of things you can do to boost home security and make your house burglary-resistant.

What Do Burglars Look For?

A West Australian study into the minds of convicted home burglars was undertaken to understand their mindset and uncover the methods they use to gain entry. It produced some amazing information and provides a great insight into the things you should and shouldn’t do in and around your home.

Following is a summary of findings and the observations of the researchers:

  • Most burglaries are opportunistic. “We were very surprised at just how easy it was for them to get in.”
  • One of the most common strategies involved simply walking in through open doors and windows. “Sixty-six percent said they walked past a house, saw an open door or window; therefore they got in.”
  • “They looked for keys under mats, under the fake rocks by front doors, just inside the garage, and they had easy access to people’s accommodation.”
  • Thieves look for access points into the house or back garden, and fences were no deterrence. “We were again surprised when they said they quite liked the high walls and fences because it gave them somewhere to hide.”
  • Leaving lights and radios on late at night was a sure way to signal that no-one’s home. “Most people at night turn their lights off or just have a night light on. They called it the oldest trick in the book.”
  • On the other hand, a dog was a good way to move a burglar on to an easier target. “It didn’t have to be a guard dog or a big dog. It was a dog that attracts attention to their activities. “So a small yappy dog can be just as effective as having a Doberman in the back garden.
  • Most robberies take place during the day and where there’s little activity. Thieves are deterred by seeing people and neighbours, especially in the street.
  • Burglars are changing their strategies to take advantage of the digital age. Social media is being added to the burglar’s tool kit. Young people in particular are posting the exciting news about holidays. “Me and my friends, we’re all going” they post. It’s an advertisement that you’re not in your house.
  • Christmas is traditionally a time when robberies increase. “There’s a few things to be wary of here.” People like to show off their decorations, allowing a full view of the interior. “(People) see the goods under the tree and they see the purse on the kitchen bench.
  • “What was one of the surprises was that about 46 per cent said that if the door was open and they could see something they wanted and they were pretty sure they wouldn’t be detected, they would go in…even if someone was home.” The keyword is undetected. “So they’re not wanting to commit violent home robberies or break in.”
  • Christmas parties mean open doors for guests to come and go. “Particularly with people smoking outside and not inside.”
  • As well, people are not as vigilant about strangers, believing that they may be friends of friends. “That’s when they (the burglars) have been coming in and taking goods. If they think they can get into a house and mingle, then they would do that too.”

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Quick Home Security Check list

Is your home a target for criminals?

Are your trees and shrubs trimmed so it’s hard for burglars to hide? – Yes/No

Do you have a dog? – Yes/No

Do you have locks and deadbolts or deadlocks fitted? – Yes/No

Do you have security screens on your doors and windows? – Yes/No

Does your door have a peep-hole or a video intercom? – Yes/No

Do your windows have key-locks or security devices? – Yes/No

Does your house have an automatic light timer or sensor lights? – Yes/No

Are the entrances to your home well lit? – Yes/No

Is the garage or shed kept locked? – Yes/No

Are your tools and ladders stored away securely? – Yes/No

Is the meter box locked? – Yes/No

Do you keep gates closed and locked? – Yes/No

Do you have a fence to prevent intruders from getting to the back of your house away from street view? – Yes/No

Is your home fitted with security cameras? – Yes/No

Is your home fitted with an alarm system? – Yes/No

Do you have window stickers letting burglars know you have a security cameras or an alarm system? – Yes/No

Is there a phone extension in the bedroom with emergency numbers handy? – Yes/No

Do you keep money and valuables out of view from outside the house? – Yes/No

Are your contents and valuables engraved or marked for easy identification? – Yes/No

Have your recorded the serial numbers? – Yes/No

If your answer is “yes” to all or most of the above questions, well done! This means that you are vigilant about home security and you have dramatically reduced your chances of being a victim of burglary. We suggest you consider the questions that you have answered “no” to and make an assessment on how much more effective (if any) your overall protection would be by rectifying those aspects as well.

If your answer is “no” to many of the above questions your home and possessions are a soft target for thieves.  The good news is that if you start acting now on each of the security weaknesses that this list has identified you can be out of the soft target category in no time and you will be able to enjoy considerably greater peace of mind.

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