Don’t make the mistake of positioning your Outdoor Security Cameras in the wrong place 14

Positioning outdoor security camerasOne of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make with their outdoor security cameras is poor positioning. Here’ we take a look at the best places to install security cameras around the outside of a home to catch burglars in the act (or click here  to learn where to place indoor security cameras). A home that displays some form of security system is less attractive to would-be and active burglars. This is according to a study funded by AIREF, and released by the University of North Carolina.[1]

NOTE: You can jump to any part of this post by clicking the links in the table of contents

Table of Contents

  1. Savvy Criminals
  2. Visible Security Deters Burglars
  3. Positioning Your Outdoor Security Cameras
  4. #1 Front Doors
  5. #2 Side and Back Doors
  6. #3 Windows
  7. #4 Garages
  8. Camera Options
  9. More Stats
  10. Final Thoughts

Savvy Criminals

Law abiding people don’t tend to consider the mind of a burglar. We often like to think of them as lazy opportunists, but that’s not the full picture. Many are opportunists, but they also know what they want to do and how they’re going to do it. Most of them know more about home security than the average home owner. It’s their job after all. If you have poorly placed outdoor security cameras, or a dummy burglar alarm fitted, the experienced thief will know about it. The only way to thwart house burglars is to deter them the best we can. About 83 percent of opportunistic burglars will determine whether a property has an adequate home security setup before committing the crime. Out of those, 60 percent would look for another, easier alternative if they deemed the property too secure.[2],[3]

Visible Security Deters Burglars

Anything you can do to prevent a break-in is worth the effort and expense. Average burglars only have a few minutes to get in and out, so the less obstacles and risks they face, the easier their job is. And it’s your job to make them skip your home and move on, away from your property. Remember, they will know if your alarm or outdoor security cameras are good enough for them to worry about. The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) have commented on this. They say burglars break into unsecured homes three times more often than homes which have good, noticeable security. So the purpose of this piece is to guide you to effective placement of your outdoor security cameras.

Positioning Your Outdoor Security Cameras

Well-placed outdoor security cameras can help in three major areas:

  1. Deter would-be burglars
  2. Identify intruders that ignore or don’t notice cameras
  3. Increase chances of catching them

The places you want to install your cameras might not necessarily be the best place for them. Now we’re going to look at the four optimal places to put a home security camera in order of priority:

  1. The front door
  2. The side and back doors
  3. First floor windows
  4. Garage

#1 Front Doors

You really do need a camera monitoring your front door. Around 34% of all burglars enter homes through the front of the building. Despite this fact, most people new to home security tend to place the main camera on the eaves of their roofs. Others stick them on the second story in the case of two-story structures. The best way to place your camera is about 7ft. up (no less), and pointing down at an angle. This is the ideal position to record facial images. Because most burglars try the front door first, having a camera point down on them before they’ve even started the job is a great way to deter them from the outset. My advice is to make the security camera at your front door the top priority.[4]

#2 Side and Back Doors

If the front door isn’t an option the burglar will either move on or try their luck at a side door, if there is one, or head straight to the back of the house. Reports estimate that 22% of burglars enter residential property through the back doors. They know that in most homes the back door is not as secure as the front, but if the front door is doable it’s usually the first choice. A stranger snooping around the back of someone’s house looks more conspicuous than someone standing at the front door. As the back is the second most popular point of entry for burglars, you should place your second security camera here. If there is a window adjacent to the door, position the camera so that it covers them both. If that’s a bit awkward, then have one covering the back door and another at the window. Whatever camera systems you choose, make sure they are fully weatherproof and can resist all kinds of outdoor conditions.

While you’re at it, consider the backyard more generally, such as the entrance to it, and perhaps another camera pointing to a shed if you have one. Most garden sheds hold valuable gardening tools, power tools and bicycles, etc. It’s something you might like to think about as you develop your outdoor security camera network.

#3 Windows

Around 23% of burglars will break in to a home from a first floor window if they can’t access the property through the doors. They prefer the windows that are not facing the street or are at the back of the house. If you have such windows then this is the third place to aim your outdoor cameras. A visible indoor security camera placed on a table at an angle looking out is another good deterrent. After all, no burglar wants to be ‘caught on camera’ before they even gain access to the property.

#4 Garages

Believe it or not, 9% of all house burglars get in through an adjacent garage in homes that have one. This is usually their last attempt after failing to break in through the doors and windows. Consider pointing a security camera at your garage doors.

Camera Options

Think about the actual cameras and the areas you want them to cover. A wide angle camera, for example, will cover multiple points, and thus reduce the need for additional cameras. However, wide angle cameras will also make everything look smaller and record less detail. You need to think about lighting as well. Too much light or reflections can mess with the recorded footage. If there is a sudden change in light, that can also render images useless.

More Stats

Other stats that may help you decide where to place your outdoor security cameras:[5]

  • 81% of break-ins occur on the first floor
  • 4% of burglars will enter a residence via a basement
  • 12% walk in casually through unlocked entrances
  • 2% of all break-ins happen on the second story (cat burglars)

Final Thoughts

This is just a quick guide on the best place to put outdoor cameras. If you need to explore the camera types and their various functions, please look at our other in-depth articles. We have plenty of great pieces on all the security systems around at the moment. You may also want to look at my top three reviews for outdoor security systems. I cover them in some detail and explain why I think they’re the best home security solutions right now.



About Mark Bickmore

Hi, my name is Mark Bickmore. I'm an Engineer, who has a keen interest in home security and keeping my family, property and valuables safe from burglars. This website was set up to help me explore the research, facts and myths about burglars and burglary. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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14 thoughts on “Don’t make the mistake of positioning your Outdoor Security Cameras in the wrong place

  • marie

    Is it illegal to position cameras outside that captures other people’s houses?
    My house is a corner house and my cameras can see my neighbors horses. I want to be able to see what’s around and in front of my property.

  • Karen Spees

    Should you point a security camera toward your front door, or away from it to see facial recognition of someone walking toward the door?
    Thank you.

    • Mark Bickmore Post author

      I would point it away. You want to position it where you know you will capture their face. Furthermore, to ensure you trip the motion detector, we want to position it at an angel, not directly down the walk way.

  • Richard

    Is it legal for a vendor who installs home security cameras to have video live access to all the residential locations he has installed outside cameras on his cell phone?

  • Melissa Craig

    Hello Mark. My name is Melissa Craig and I live in Corpus Christi Texas. My husband and I are having trouble with a neighbor who has taken a hunting camera, and attached it on to the children’s board overlooking my backyard and into my bedroom window. She’s a little bit of a nut job, my neighbor, and at this point I am unnerved. I have called code enforcement to come and take a look. But other than that I’m at a loss for what to do. What are your thoughts?

  • Elizabeth Sabo

    Do you have a solution for an outdoor video camera that I could set up to run with a slow internet upload speed? My download speed is ok but the upload speed is not even up to 2 mg. I was ready to have a Guardian outdoor camera installed but when the technician did the speed test he said my upload speed was too low to support it. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

  • Paul

    I live in a very low crime area I have whole house security vector doors / motion is there any reason for me to install an outdoor camera system

  • William Earl Jones

    My neighbor has installed a security camera on the ledge of a second floor window that looks directly into my backyard. I don’t think it covers any of her yard at all. I asked the homeowner’s association to talk with her and she claims that i am throwing chewing gum into her yard. I do not chew gum and , if i did, I would not dispose of it in that manner. The association won’t help and the local police department, while sympathetic, will do nothing. With no other recourse, I plan to retaliate by installing my own cameras. The neighbor is the only person in our community who has had cameras installed. It has already opened Pandora’s Box.