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9 tips to know before setting up a CCTV System for a Retail Store

Here at SpyCameraCCTV, we often focus our posts on providing information to first time home users, but if you need to set up a retail CCTV system to monitor a shop space, then it can often be even more daunting for the uninitiated. After all, there is every chance that you will need to depend on the footage from the system to protect your business- and livelihood. With this in mind, what should you be keeping in mind when buying and setting up the system, and what are some of the common pitfalls?

The front of a newsagent shop at night time
image via

1) Get as much coverage as possible. The first question many people ask is “how many cameras do I need”. Realistically, the only answer to this is “as many as you can afford”. The more coverage your system has, the fewer blind spots there will be that go unmonitored. Not only that, but the more cameras you have, the less area each one will have to cover, allowing you to focus in on smaller areas to record more detail.

Sony Super HAD Indoor Dome CCTV Camera with 650 TV Line & Low Light
Our indoor dome cameras help keep your cameras discreet

2) If you do have blind spots, make sure they’re not obvious. As much as you try and avoid it, if you have a limited number of cameras then it’s somewhat inevitable there will be some gaps in your coverage. If these are easy to spot, then shoplifters can and will exploit them. Using discreet dome cameras will help conceal the direction your cameras are pointing, helping obscure any blind spots.

3) Make sure the important areas are covered. This is just essentially common sense, but make sure the areas where you know incidents can occur have the most comprehensive coverage from your cameras. Typically this would include locations with valuable stock, customer service areas such as tills, and the doorway.

4) Make sure your DVR’s hard drive is sufficient. If your shop sells alcohol then you may have to keep 30 days of CCTV footage archived in order to comply with licensing regulations. What this would require in terms of hard drive size varies a lot depending on the number of cameras in your system, quality and frame rate, but as a rule of thumb if your system has 4 cameras, you should have at least 1TB of storage.

5) Remember the Data Protection Act. Unlike home systems, any commercially operated CCTV has to comply with the Data Protection Act. Importantly, this means you will need a sign clearly notifying customers that they are being recorded, and that you operate the cameras. It does not however have to show the number of cameras, or their location.

6) Do not record audio! Another legal aspect to consider is that it is not permitted to record audio as part of your security system. This can be frustrating, but is very important to comply with, as- should your footage be required as evidence- audio in a recording could potentially render it inadmissible in court.

7) Make sure the cameras capture enough detail. Police often recommend cameras with a resolution of at least 420TVL, but this by itself is often not enough. For example, a camera can be very good quality, but if it is trying to record a face on the other side of the shop with a wide angle lens then it’s never going to capture recognisable details. This is why it’s vital to identify important areas and cover them with tighter lenses. Cameras with varifocal lenses let you easily control this.

Sony Effio Varifocal Lens to Fine Tune Your Coverage
Sony Effio lenses help you fine tune your system’s coverage

8) Remember- it’s not just the customers you are monitoring. It can be sad to admit this, but for a lot of shops the greatest losses from theft are due to light fingered staff. Because of this it’s important to make sure back room areas like the stock room are also covered, as well as the tills. Ultimately this benefits the staff as well, as it can prove their innocence if they are mistakenly blamed for something.

9) Take advantage of DVR user settings. Our professional CCTV DVRs will have user access settings.This means that if you have any cameras discreetly monitoring staff, you can prevent them casually seeing this if they look at the CCTV monitor.

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