Planning A Surveillance System – Knowing The Criminal Mind

Before we begin I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t purport to be a psychologist, sociologist, or have any schooling in criminal studies. I am simply writing this article with knowledge and experiences I have gained through my work selling and supporting surveillance equipment and components. The basic idea is to go through and talk about some criminal mindsets and how it can help you design, purchase, and use a surveillance system in these scenarios.

The Basic Criminal

A vast majority of criminal activity tends to be spur of the moment acts of vandalism or burglary. These criminals tend to be younger in age and rarely put much if any thought into their actions. In cases such as these, a visual deterrent can literally be the clinching difference as to whether your home or business becomes a target of their malicious intent. The reason for this is because the majority of these low end criminals have very little knowledge as to the functionality and capabilities of surveillance equipment. The only real thought they will have is “I see a security camera and posted surveillance signs, hmm I have a higher chance of getting caught here”. This thought alone is usually enough to deter most low end criminals.

Because of this, a few well placed dummy cameras and a couple surveillance signs can be a great and inexpensive deterrent to help safeguard your property.

Premeditated / Inner Criminal Activity

As the name suggest premeditated burglary is a crime in which the criminal takes time to plan their actions out in advance. As to what I mean by inner criminal activity however is the fact that a lot of premeditated criminals tend to commit crime near or in places that are familiar to them. This can be their homes, places of work, or a family residence. The reason for this is because of that familiarity and because they will have a better knowledge of the place(s) their breaking into, which gives them the ability to think about and analyze their actions beforehand.

A way to try and recognize whether a crime against your property was a spur of the moment action or a premeditated crime is by analyzing what was stolen or vandalized. If there is any kind of specificity to the crime such as a specific item stolen or a specific area broken into, then this most likely denotes a premeditated crime. On the other hand if the crime is mostly random and somewhat close to the break in point, then this is most likely a heat of the moment type criminal.

For example a random criminal act would be that of someone breaking into a small retail shop and trying to steal money from the cash register or merchandise from the displays. A premeditated crime would be that of someone breaking into your store and going for the safe in your office.

The reason that in most cases a basic criminal would not go for the safe is because they most likely don’t know it’s there, and because in the heat of the moment they are not going to be thinking clearly and will try to get out as fast as possible before being caught.

Reoccurring Criminal Activity

If you have had your facilities broken into multiple times, and it has been done in roughly the same manner, then you are most likely being violated by the same offender. When this starts to happen the criminal you are dealing with is no longer a basic criminal, they have become more of a premeditated offender. This happens to some basic criminals, especially when they get away with their crime.

Now it might seem to some that logic would dictate it to be unwise to trespass or break into the same place multiple times as it would increase their chances of being caught. The thing that should be noted about criminals however is that they generally don’t think this way. A criminals mindset will usually become one of habit in which they think they’ve done it before, so it is the safest bet for them to break into again.

When designing a surveillance system to deal with this problem you will want to take the first route of covering the areas that have been broken into before. The secondary decision will be whether to place noticeable cameras that will act as visual deterrents, or to use covert solutions that will catch the criminal in the act, that way they can be caught and properly punished. Of course this decision will all depend on whether you just want the trespassing to stop or if you want retribution for your grief.

It should be noted that if you are dealing with a premeditated and reoccurring criminal activity, there is the possibility that it is coming from a source that is intimate with your property. This can be people such as employees or family members. If you think this to be the case, then you will want to design your surveillance system accordingly and inform only crucial people of its existence.

In the end there is always a middle ground and some grey areas that can muddy up the diagnosis of the criminal mind, but for the main population of criminals it has been my experience that they generally tend to fall within these areas of thought.

Christian M Gillman has worked in the surveillance industry for over 7 years. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, learn more about surveillance, and find great products at

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