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Old Mar 9, 2013, 7:45 AM   #1
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Default To film a stalker

Hi. I need to film a malicious stalker who comes creeping around at night, and does malicious damage to the outside of my flat. I live in a deeply wooded garden, so he has no shortage of cover. The people in the flats next to mine, who have windows overlooking this flat, have offered to help me film him at work. However, the neighbour's window that overlooks the front of my flat is made of glass, and there is a screen over their bathroom window, which overlooks the side of my flat. So I need something that can film in the dark through glass. Alternatively, if I film through the bathroom window, I'll need something that can film in the dark through a screen. The distance is about 30 metres. I also need to be able to cover any lights that display on the camera, otherwise he'll see the lights, in the dark. This stalker is excessively furtive and careful, so I don't want to leave a spy camera in my garden, unsecured, in case he finds it, and just takes it. I'm also on a tight budget and don't have thousands to spend. Can anyone help me with some advice about what to use under these circumstances, and how to go about it. I'd really appreciate your help.

Last edited by sleuthing; Mar 9, 2013 at 7:48 AM.
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Old Mar 9, 2013, 9:39 AM   #2
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Most webcams have a motion sensor feature where the software won't record the video unless something moved. And since the screen would be out of focus, it wouldn't appear, though it would darken the image. There are also webcams that have optical zoom, so if you (or a neighbor) knows something is happening, they can pan and zoom on the subject to get a clearer picture. And any electrical tape can be used to cover the light.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 9, 2013, 10:34 PM   #3
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There is an outside light at the front of my flat that I can leave on. If I set up a camcorder in the neighbourís glass window that overlooks the front of my flat, would that do the job? The glass window is in their childrenís bedroom, so the light in that room would be off through the night. So the camcorder would be in a dark room, looking down onto the illuminated porch. Iím a bit reluctant to trouble the neighbours with a webcam, because it means connecting it up to their computer, which they might have to move to a convenient place, etc, etc. Itís easier for them if I just put the camcorder on the windowsill and plug it in to a power outlet. Iíve seen a very economical camcorder at the following link:
http://www.harveynorman.com.au/sony-dcr-sx65s-camcorder-silver.html?gclid=CMqlsYCF8bUCFdBZpgodtSwAwA
I donít think it has a motion detector sensor, but presumably Iíd be able to download the footage to my computer and just scan it myself for evidence.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 6:33 AM   #4
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A camcorder would work. You could also get WiFi cameras, and put them up in multiple locations.

The problem is that, if you intend to use these for gathering evidence of anything, you'll need something that clearly identifies the person that's trespassing. Perhaps you'de be better served by some motion sensor activated security lights. And perhaps if you react soon enough, you can use a conventional camera to get what you're after.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 6:43 AM   #5
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Won't a camcorder clearly identify the person? I've seen an inexpensive camcorder on the net, a Sony DCR-SX655. Any idea how suitable that would be, over a distance of less than 40ft, at night, with illumination in the area being filmed, and also how it would go with no illumination in the area being filmed (so I could film activity at the side of the flat, which has no outside lights). I don't want to put anything out there in the garden that's within his reach, that he can pick up and take, or break off and take, or smash, and he's a master of cautious stealth so it's not at all unlikely that he'd find quite easily something I thought I'd hidden with tremendous cunning. I'd rather have the camera safe inside the house, looking through a window. And that takes out motion sensor equipment, because I have to film through glass, or through a screen. So that's why so far I think the camcorder seems to be the one that can support most of those conditions, except I don't know how it goes filming in the dark.

Last edited by sleuthing; Mar 10, 2013 at 8:20 AM.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 8:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleuthing View Post
Won't a camcorder clearly identify the person?
An HD camcorder recording a wide scene at night won't record the face with sufficient detail to prove a specific individual was there. Even with one or two light sources, the lighting will be too harsh for what you're trying to do.

Quote:
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I've seen an inexpensive camcorder on the net, a Sony DCR-SX655. Any idea how suitable that would be, over a distance of less than 40ft, at night, with illumination in the area being filmed, and also how it would go with no illumination in the area being filmed (so I could film activity at the side of the flat, which has no outside lights).
The SX655 records video with a maximum resolution of 720x480 at 60i. Even with the Carl Zeiss lens, Face Detection, and Intelligent Auto, you won't get a good image of his face unless you're zoomed in pretty tightly, which means you'd need a good idea of the route he takes through your property.

I'd put up security lights first. That may scare him off, and if it doesn't, it'll help a camera.

... and maybe get a dog.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 8:37 AM   #7
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I'd put up security lights first.
That's "lights" as in, more than one, with overlapping coverage. One light he might try to take out, but if mulitple lights come on, he'll probably just leave.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 11:19 AM   #8
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BTW, do you have a camera?
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 3:10 PM   #9
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I certainly agree that the motion sensor security lights are your first priority. Nothing more likely to frighten off someone sneaking around in the dark, than having the lights suddenly shine on him. There are options to slave video recording devices to the sensors, as well, if that turns out to be needed.
As to cameras, make a test in daylight to find out if you have enough resolution to get a clear identification of someone from the location you will have your camera set up, then consider that the lower light levels at night will result in less sharp images.

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Old Mar 11, 2013, 11:12 PM   #10
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You said in an earlier post that a camcorder would do. There is one area that he always 'visits' every night, which is the porch. I could focus the camcorder on that and zoom it in so it only focusses on that small area. Why would the lighting be too harsh? I thought light would be what was needed to get images clearly. There's only one light in that area, and it's not that bright. The thing with security lights is they won't photograph him, and what I need is evidence, to take to the police. This man is a stalker, not a thief, or 'intruder'. The only thing that will stop him is the law.

Last edited by sleuthing; Mar 20, 2013 at 7:11 AM.
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