CCTV cameras can save lives, especially in communities with lots of crime. But there are definitely some negative effects of owning a security camera, one of them being the possibility of neighbors spying on each other. It’s no wonder that plenty of people online want to know how to block the neighbor’s security camera, legally or otherwise.
I’ve had these problems as well. In fact, they are more common than you might think. Sometimes, the neighbors are merely old people who want to gossip about what they see on the CCTV footage. That is annoying, sure, but technically harmless. However, there’s a very real danger that someone has aimed their surveillance camera at you for voyeuristic or illicit purposes. For those reasons alone, it’s a good idea to know more about security products and different ways to deal with them.
Is It Legal to Have a Camera Pointed at the Neighbors House?
CCTV laws vary from country to country. For example, the CCTV laws in the U.K. were introduced in 2012, with a Code of Conduct following in 2013. In addition, each individual recording done by security cameras is covered by the so-called Data Protection Act. All of these names sound complicated and confusing, I know. However, the U.K.-based fire protection company Surrey Fire & Safety Ltd. has provided a handy guide discussing each CCTV U.K. law in easy-to-understand terms.
Within the U.S., most surveillance camera legislation will depend on the state. In other words, there are, at the very least, 50 different CCTV laws neighbors across the United States need to look into. Of course, there is some overlap, which I’ll get to in the next paragraph.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property?
The best possible answer to this question is a shaky “technically, yes.” Security cameras today have a lot of area coverage and record high-definition footage. They will, for example, have a good overview of your yard. However, it’s not uncommon for a device to record an entire chunk of the street, including the neighbor’s front yard.
There are both benefits and setbacks to these high-tech security cams. Unsurprisingly, the biggest benefit is that the camera will cover a large area. If there’s a break-in, I can rewind the footage and see every detail that can help the police capture the perpetrator. For instance, I can record their face, their vehicle (if they came in one), other potential collaborators, etc. But the downside is the fact that I can capture my neighbor’s front yard and everything that’s going on there. Especially powerful cameras can even record what’s happening through the windows of the front of the house with astounding clarity. We can all agree that’s a scary thought and, worse still, that it’s entirely possible.
Of course, video recording is just one part of the question from the subheading. Lots of security cameras also record audio, which adds another layer to the issue we want to address. The question then changes from “how to blind a security camera” to “how to disrupt security cameras altogether.” Unfortunately, the laws will vary across the U.S. Some states don’t allow any recording of the neighbor’s house. Alternately, others allow both video AND audio recording as long as the device is within the borders of your property.
Can You Block Security Cameras?
There are plenty of ways to block security cameras. Some of them are legal, while others will get you in trouble with the police. A simple search online will yield lists upon lists of different ways to block or blind security cams, though some of them are downright damaging. Having had some experience with security cameras in the past, I’ve decided to address this issue with a helpful set of tips below. These deal with both what to do and what NOT to do in case the person across the street wants to spy on you daily.
How Do You Blind a Neighbor’s Security Camera?
Step 1: Talk to the Neighbor
If you feel that your neighbor’s camera is pointing directly into your yard on purpose, it might be a good idea to talk to them about it. You can always avoid a nasty situation or a misunderstanding if you approach your neighbor with your concern in a friendly, non-aggressive manner.
I remember living in a relatively safe area with lots of peaceful, suburban houses. One day, I spotted that my neighbor had installed some new security cameras, and they were pointing directly at my living room window. Instead of flipping out, I went over to him and asked him about it. But I should stress the WAY I approached him:
- I was polite and non-confrontational, using lots of diplomatic language
- Despite my demeanor, I was firm and resolute, showing that I was indeed concerned
- My body language was confident, but not insulting or condescending
- I looked at my neighbor in the eyes and spoke clearly so that he could understand what I was concerned about
Fortunately, the neighbor didn’t hold any grudge and had stated that his house was a bit slanted to the front, which made the camera appear to be staring directly at my window. He even showed me the footage first-hand after inviting me in. And sure enough, the footage only showed the street. Just to make sure everything was fine, we performed a few tests by moving the camera so that I would know the position it was in if my neighbor DID decide to spy on me for whatever reason.
However, not everyone will have an understanding neighbor. Therefore, I suggest you peruse this handy guide if you happen to live next to a person who might behave in a nasty manner when you talk to them about security cameras.
Step 2: Check If the Camera Is Fake
Lots of people buy fake security cameras to scare off potential burglars. Since you don’t need to jam a fake cam, you can save yourself the effort and simply do some research on the device your neighbor has.
The biggest telltale signs of a fake cam include the lack of an infrared light indicator, a short, flimsy cable, and a lack of a proper brand name. Of course, some obscure brand names do produce CCTV cameras, but they are usually poor quality and have a narrow field of vision. To put it simply, you don’t have to worry about second- or third-rate products. It’s the big, HD-ready ones that you need to pay attention to.
Step 3: Consult the Local Mediators
Let’s say that talking to the neighbor didn’t work and that you’re fully aware of them spying on you. Once that happens, you ought to talk to your local community mediators.
For example, my neighborhood has a mediation center where we can all raise concerns over what our next-door neighbors are doing (or not doing). Usually, these centers focus on finding the best solution for any problem that arises between the community members. A mediator will discuss the issue with both my neighbor and me until we can reach an understanding.
Step 4: Contact the Law Enforcement or Consult Your Lawyer
Local mediation is a good way to go, but there are always neighbors you just can’t reason with. If that’s the situation you’re in, it’s time to contact your attorney and take the case to court. If needed, you’ll also want to call the police.
They can’t do much against the neighbor having a security camera, but if there’s definitive proof that someone is spying on you, that’s a criminal offense.
Step 5: Obstruct the Camera With Physical Obstacles
Lawsuits can take a while. So while you wait, make sure to obstruct the camera from a distance as much as you can. The best way to go about it is to grow trees or long hedge fences.
When you place shrubbery in strategic spots around the yard, you can prevent your neighbor’s camera from “seeing” anything other than the canopies. It’s also a good idea to place other obstacles such as lawn furniture, big trampolines, etc. Additionally, thick, sturdy curtains will protect the privacy of your living room, as will tinted window glass in extreme cases.
Step 6: Install Security Cameras in Your Own Yard
Of course, the same CCTV home law that applies to your neighbor will apply to you. With that in mind, you can always install your own security cameras and point them at the neighbor. Not only will this annoy them and expose their hypocrisy, but it will also provide surveillance in case they try anything illegal on your property.
Editor Side Notes: looking for a security camera for your home? here is a guide on the best battery operated security camera this 2020 that will surely help you monitor your neighborhood and keep your family safe.
What Not to Do With a Neighbor’s Security Camera
Blinding With Laser Pointers or LED Lights
Pointing a laser or an LED light at the camera lens might disrupt it for a while. But there is a key problem with doing that. Namely, if I were to use this method, I would have to point the light source directly at the lens, at the perfect angle. That would take too much effort, and once the camera moves, the light will be useless. More importantly, I would have to physically point the laser or the LED light at the camera, which would be recorded. That way, the neighbor could sue me for trespassing and messing with his property.
Using a Jammer
Buying a jammer sounds like a good option, but again, it requires too much work, and it can be expensive. Before we buy the jammer, we would need to know what type of camera the neighbor is using and what its broadcast frequency is. And once again, if we get caught doing it, we’ll end up at the other end of a lawsuit.
Hacking Into a System
The very word “hacking” should tell you that this course of action is a bad idea. Sure, you can learn how to hack a security system. Some skilled hackers only need the neighbor’s e-mail address to break into their digital security data. But that won’t stop the camera from physically recording indefinitely. More importantly, however, you can and will be arrested for performing a cybercrime.
Cutting the Cables
Approaching the camera to cut the cable that leads to the power source might solve the problem. But I do have to appeal to your sense of basic logic. When you approach a working security camera with a pair of garden clippers or a cable cutter, what do you think will happen? Yes, you will end up on video damaging your neighbor’s property, which is entirely illegal.
Smearing, Spraying or Covering the Camera Lens
Just like cutting the cable, smearing butter or jam on the camera lens requires you to approach the device. Spraying paint and covering the camera with a cloth also falls under this category. In short, all of these actions fall under tampering with someone else’s private property. Don’t do it.
Breaking the Camera
This last tip should go without saying, especially after the two preceding ones. However, I feel the need to bring it up because so many people still do it. I understand how frustrating it can be for a CCTV device to record you while your neighbor is being unreasonable about it. But the very second you lose your cool and smash the neighbor’s camera, you’ve lost.
A Few Final Words
The reason I wanted to share this list of tips with you is simple. I completely understand the need for CCTV cameras, especially in crime-ridden neighborhoods. But we have to talk to each other normally and discuss the potential issues of our security systems. Otherwise, we’ll end up degrading the neighborhood further and even break the law in the process. Personally, I will always prefer a reasonable talk with the neighbor than flinging bricks and getting the police involved. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you found this article useful.