Objectives Despite the popularity of closed circuit television (CCTV), evidence of its crime prevention capabilities is inconclusive. Research has largely reported CCTV effect as ‘‘mixed’’ without explaining this variance. The current study contributes to the literature by testing the influence of several micro-level factors on changes in crime levels within CCTV areas of Newark, NJ.
Methods Viewsheds, denoting the line-of-sight of CCTV cameras, were units of analysis (N = 117). Location quotients, controlling for viewshed size and control-area crime incidence, measured changes in the levels of six crime categories, from the pre-installation period to the post-installation period. Ordinary least squares regression models tested the influence of specific micro-level factors—environmental features, camera line-of-sight, enforcement activity, and camera design—on each crime category.
Results First, the influence of environmental features differed across crime categories, with specific environs being related to the reduction of certain crimes and the increase of others. Second, CCTV-generated enforcement was related to the reduction of overall crime, violent crime and theft-from-auto. Third, obstructions to CCTV line-of-sight caused by immovable objects were related to increased levels of auto theft and decreased levels of violent crime, theft from auto and robbery.
Conclusions The findings suggest that CCTV operations should be designed in a manner that heightens their deterrent effect. Specifically, police should account for the presence of crime generators/attractors and ground-level obstructions when selecting camera sites, and design the operational strategy in a manner that generates maximum levels of enforcement.