Keeping an ‘eye’ on Sisters


Last updated 9/6/2022 at Noon


By rough count there are between 300 and 400 exterior mounted security cameras in Sisters, frequently called CCTV (closed circuit television), installed by businesses. That doesn’t include an even greater number of residential cameras. The Laird Superfood campus alone has 30. The various self-storage businesses are prime users of the technology with some two dozen at Sisters Self Storage’s two locations.

Of course, the banks are well equipped with the units. Their ATMs have built-in cameras as well, watching your every move — and anything that moves near the electronic mini vaults.

ODOT is watching us 24 hours a day when we travel through the roundabout.

Inside, it’s the same story, with CCTV cameras discreetly — and some not-so-subtly — recording the scene. Next time you drop into Sisters Coffee, smile for the cameras, one on each level. There are at least 10 at Ray’s Food Place. Even small shops like Sisters Liquor and Sisters Cascade are keeping a watchful eye on shoppers — and employees.

It’s the interaction between clerk and customer that’s of most interest. The majority of interior cameras are placed adjacent to or above the register. This is where scammers try to game the system. Like telling the owner they handed over a $20 and only got change for a $10.

Nope, a quick review of the camera footage shows.

And employees knowing they are under the electronic eye make better employees, according to business operators.

Shoplifting is the principal reason shopkeepers employ the devices. Banks have one over every teller and in other key spots. Financial branches are more likely to have an armed holdup than, say, the dress shop. But after last week’s tragedy at a Bend Safeway, retailers are more concerned that if it happened there, it could happen here.

It’s not just in stores and banks. The growth of video home security systems is exploding from $5 billion in 2021 to a forecast $25 billion by 2030, a quintupling in nine years. Realtors tell The Nugget that roughly half of all new homes have the technology installed and, by some estimates, almost 90 percent of all Sisters Country homes with an appraised value of $1 million or more have the smart technology.

A study by Houzz found that homeowners are quick to spend nearly $500 on smart home and security equipment, especially in voice assistants, video doorbells, and smart lights. Improvement in network bandwidth and related infrastructure has drawn attention to cloud-based storage for live feeds in home security.

Among all the applications, video surveillance has been gaining the maximum market share. Surveillance systems implemented at homes have varied applications, such as monitoring and access control. These systems are also equipped with features, such as motion detection and night vision.

Sisters has very few home break-ins. Porch and garage theft may be more of a threat. 210 million packages were stolen last year in the U.S. and one in five homeowners have been victims of the growing problem.

Turn on TV and you’ll often see video footage of what’s known as “porch pirates,” or package thieves, stealing packages in plain sight off doorsteps across the nation. With 77 percent of consumers now wanting their online purchases delivered to their homes, the package-theft pandemic isn’t likely to go away any time soon.

Porch theft is a common crime, because porch pirates don’t have to be particularly skillful, as most packages are left in plain sight on a resident’s porch.

“Doorbell” cameras and other smart technology home systems are quite robust and capable of seeing more than just the person at the door in some cases. While there’s no specific federal law that regulates how to use a home security camera, there are national consent and privacy laws that apply to video surveillance. There are also different regulations for recording audio and video footage.

In the U.S., it’s usually legal for you to install a residential security camera and record video. But U.S. citizens are also guaranteed a reasonable expectation of privacy, which extends to video recording. Neighbors may not like what can be seen by your system.

Some privacy experts are expressing concern about the proliferation of home security systems. Police and insurers on the other hand see them as a useful tool in combating property crime.


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