photo of a parking lot full of cars from above

How to secure your Parking lot with CCTV Surveillance

UPDATED: 28/09/2023

Parking lots are huge areas that often attract a lot of crime[1]. This article is written mostly for business owners such as shopping malls, street side establishments, and really anything with on-site parking. However it also fully applies to residential dwellings with parking lots such as apartments and highrises.

Why watch your parking lot?

parking lot safe with cctv surveillance

The area outside your store, the parking lot, serves as an essential part of your business. It’s akin to your front porch, an extended entryway where your customers park their cars and access your establishment. This space not only accommodates your customers’ vehicles but also acts as the gateway to your shop, facilitating their comings and goings. However, it’s crucial to recognize that parking lots can become breeding grounds for criminal activity, making vigilance imperative. Cars become prime targets, and any valuables left within them can be at risk.

In some unfortunate cases, these incidents can escalate into outright muggings. Shoppers, while returning to their vehicles, may inadvertently let their guard down, carrying their recently acquired goods. Parking lot surveillance isn’t merely an option; it’s a vital aspect of ensuring the safety of both you and your customers. It forms a cornerstone of your overall business security strategy.

The Importance of Parking Lot Surveillance

  1. Customer Safety: Your parking lot isn’t just a space for cars; it’s an integral part of your customers’ journey. Ensuring their safety in this area contributes significantly to overall customer satisfaction.

  2. Deterrent Against Criminal Activity: A well-structured CCTV system acts as a visible deterrent to potential criminals. Clearly marked signs indicating “CCTV in operation” serve as a visual reminder that their actions are being monitored.

  3. Evidence and Identification: In case of any suspicious events or crimes, surveillance cameras provide solid evidence. They capture physical descriptions, facial features, clothing details, and even car descriptions and license plates. This evidence not only aids[2] in legal proceedings but also supports insurance claims, establishing the cause of damage or missing items.

Evidence of crime & identification of suspects

With parking lots attracting potential thieves and even violent criminals, it is important that if anything happens to you or your visitors, justice is served. The most important function of CCTV is to provide solid evidence of any suspicious event.

Your security cameras will track the movements of anyone who visits your shops. With the proper setup they will also be used to identify any suspicious people. Physical descriptions such as faces, clothes, physical size, and others must be clearly seen as well as modes of transport such as car descriptions and number plates.

Having such solid footage of your parking lot will give you and your customers more than a foot to stand on in any legal proceedings and police investigations. It will also help with any insurance claims as it provides proof that criminals caused the damage and missing goods you will need covered.

Deterrent of theft & violent crimes

Having solid evidence to back your case is instrumental in dealing with a crime that’s happened. However better yet is deterring criminals from trying anything in the first place. A good CCTV system serves as a front-line visual deterrent. Would-be criminals can see your cameras and know they are being recorded, and this should be firmly reminded with “CCTV in operation” signs.

Thorough surveillance of an area lets criminals know they will not get off lightly as all their movements and potentially their identities are being recorded in high detail.

What do your cameras need to see?

illustration of cctv seeing weapons, facial identity, and clothes on a criminal

There are key elements your cameras need to capture to generate properly effective crime fighting and deterring evidence. Generally, all CCTV cameras should be aiming to identify the suspect through recording features including but not limited to:

  • Physical Descriptions: Cameras should capture details like size, gait, hair and skin color, and more.
  • Facial Features: Clear images of faces for potential suspect identification.
  • Clothing and Accessories: Record what individuals are wearing or carrying.
  • Car Registration Numbers: Vital for identifying vehicles and their owners.
  • Individual Movement: Monitor how individuals interact within the parking lot and any suspicious activities.

Parking lot cameras serve have two particularly special responsibilities: Car number plates, and person movements.

Car registration numbers/License plates

cctv vehicle license plate read

When it comes to investigating a crime, the significance of a vehicle’s registration number cannot be overstated. This seemingly mundane set of characters is, in fact, a crucial piece of information. It serves as an extension of an individual’s identity, firmly connecting them to their car. Think of it as a fingerprint for vehicles. Not only does it identify the owner, but it also enables law enforcement to track down the vehicle, even when it’s safely ensconced on the bustling roads.

In the context of parking lots, designed primarily for vehicles, recording visitors’ number plates becomes paramount. Here’s why:

  1. Ensuring Accountability: Parking lots are frequented by a diverse array of visitors, making it essential to maintain accountability. Capturing license plate numbers provides a concrete record of who enters and exits the premises, enhancing security and aiding investigations if needed.
  2. Crime Prevention: Criminals often seek opportunities in parking lots. By recording license plates, you create a deterrent for illicit activities. When potential wrongdoers know they are being watched, the likelihood of criminal behavior decreases significantly.
  3. Enhanced Safety: Beyond crime prevention, knowing the identities of vehicles’ owners ensures safety. In cases of accidents or emergencies, this information can be invaluable for swiftly reaching out to the relevant parties.
  4. Supporting Law Enforcement: When a crime occurs within or around your parking lot, having a record of license plate numbers can be instrumental in assisting the police. It enables them to identify potential suspects and locate vehicles associated with criminal activities.
  5. Comprehensive Monitoring: For effective surveillance, it’s crucial to monitor every aspect of your parking lot, from entry to exit. High-detail cameras placed strategically at these points ensure that license plates are captured accurately, leaving no room for ambiguity.

By recognizing the importance of license plates in parking lot surveillance, you not only bolster security but also contribute to the overall safety and well-being of your establishment and its visitors.

Track individual movement and interaction

In the realm of parking lot surveillance, the sheer expanse of these areas can sometimes resemble a battlefield, especially when a crime is in progress. To effectively tackle criminal activities, it’s essential to have a keen eye on what a suspect is up to and where they are headed within this sprawling terrain. Here’s why tracking individual movements and interactions is imperative:

  1. Unveiling Suspicious Activity: Parking lots are prime locations for various forms of criminal activity, from theft to vandalism. Capturing clear footage of these incidents is essential. Surveillance cameras should not only focus on the suspect’s actions but also on how they approach vehicles or interact with other individuals within the vicinity.
  2. Understanding the Full Picture: A comprehensive view of a criminal’s actions is critical for investigations. The footage should encompass the sequence of events leading up to the discovery of the crime. This includes how the suspect approached the scene, their initial actions, and their subsequent movements.
  3. Post-Discovery Behavior: Criminals often change their course of action once they realize they’ve been spotted. Surveillance should extend beyond the initial detection. Capture what direction the suspect fled, what vehicle they entered, or any other noteworthy actions they took post-discovery.
  4. Aiding Law Enforcement: Detailed surveillance data is invaluable for law enforcement. It not only helps identify suspects but also supports investigations, facilitating a quicker response to apprehend criminals.

Tracking individual movement and interaction within parking lots is a critical aspect of surveillance. It allows for a holistic understanding of any criminal activity, from start to finish. By ensuring that your surveillance system captures these crucial details, you not only enhance customer safety but also contribute to the overall security of your establishment.

Camera Placement and Camera Lens Angle

illustration showing example parking lot with two cctv cameras overlapping watching the cars and the road

The art of effectively positioning surveillance cameras in parking lots requires thoughtful consideration, as each parking lot possesses unique characteristics influenced by its size, shape, lighting conditions, and potential obstructions such as trees. To optimize your CCTV system’s performance, it’s essential to make informed decisions about camera placement and lens angles.

Factors to Consider:

  • Size and Shape: Larger, more expansive parking lots may demand a combination of camera types, while standard-shaped lots can be efficiently monitored with wide-angle cameras.
  • Lighting Conditions: Adequate lighting is crucial for clear surveillance footage. Ensure that cameras are strategically placed to capture well-lit images.
  • Obstacles: Trees, pillars, or structures can obstruct camera views. Place cameras to minimize these obstructions and maximize coverage.

Choosing the Right Lens Angle:

Selecting the appropriate lens angle for your cameras is a pivotal decision. The choice often hinges on the specific characteristics of your parking lot:

  • Wide Angle Cameras: Wide-angle lenses are ideal for broad, standard-shaped parking lots. They cover a larger area, capturing the overall scene effectively.
  • Narrow Angle Cameras: In contrast, narrow-angle cameras are valuable assets for single-row or narrow street-side parking lots. Their focused view can efficiently monitor traffic flow in both directions.

Entry and Exit Monitoring:

CCTV Camera Monitoring of Entry and Exit

The points of entry and exit in your parking lot deserve special attention. These areas are critical for security and customer safety, and they require specific camera configurations:

  • High-Detail Cameras: Entry and exit points should be equipped with high-detail cameras capable of capturing number plates accurately without errors.
  • Continuous Monitoring: These cameras should be continuously monitored to maintain a seamless record of vehicles entering and leaving. This ensures a complete and uninterrupted trail of surveillance footage, critical for security and investigative purposes.

In essence, camera placement and lens angle selection are integral aspects of establishing a robust surveillance system for your parking lot. By tailoring your approach to the unique characteristics of your parking facility, you can enhance customer safety, bolster business security, and provide valuable support to law enforcement agencies in investigations.


If you are reading this article, you may already be having issues in your own parking lot. Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the basics of securing a parking lot for commercial or residential needs. Evidence for criminal investigations and a deterrent against future crime are in your hands with a well-designed CCTV system. If you are having serious crime problems and would like a solution, don’t hesitate to get in touch – keeping people safe is our mission.


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