Today’s Question: Do I need to post a sign for video surveillance?
First up, we’re tackling a common question we hear from business owners: Do I need to post a sign for video surveillance? We’re here to answer this question and share some tips when it comes to protecting your property with surveillance signage.
While the literal answer may be “no, you don’t need to have surveillance signage visible,” that doesn’t mean it’s the best answer. There are no laws requiring you to post surveillance signage – except in some states where it is required in some specific contexts, such as notifying people that you have surveillance in place in dressing rooms. But for surveillance outside of buildings, or in generic areas of a building, there are no legal requirements.
But … that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to skip signage altogether! In fact, something as simple as a well-lit sign letting customers – and more importantly, potential thieves – know they are being recorded can be an inexpensive and effective tool in deterring crime.
Especially if it informs unwanted visitors that live video surveillance is taking place.
You might be wondering… is it as easy as sticking a sign to a fence and calling it a day? While the idea is fairly simple, you do need to put some thought into where you place signage. The best way to do this is to get into the mindset of a thief and think like they do.
A popular tactic used by criminals is to conduct reconnaissance on potential targets before they perpetrate a crime. They need to know the “lay of the land” before they break-in. So they will notice everything from entry points (e.g. fences, gates, doors, windows), to the presence of guards, alarms or surveillance systems.
As part of this process, would-be thieves often pose as customers or legitimate visitors during regular business hours so that they blend in with other people and can get a good look at their target. This is the best time to have them see surveillance signage, because it could be enough to have them move on to the next potential target.
It’s a good practice for businesses to “pretend” they’re a criminal casing the business, so they can strategically place surveillance signage where would-be criminals are most likely to go. Like entrances and exits, lobbies and anywhere else where people tend to congregate.
So, while the answer to this question may be that video surveillance signage is not a legal requirement – it is definitely a best practice. Installing signage is cheap and easy – and it may make a difference when a criminal is identifying their next target.
And as we all know, deterrence is the best result for everyone – the business, the police, and even the would-be criminal.
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