Auto Dealership Surveillance Risks

On November 7, 2016 By admin

Video surveillance might not be the best option for every business, but it certainly does provide significant benefits for car auto dealerships and garages. Because of the high value of their inventory and susceptibility to theft, auto dealerships need to take extra precautions to increase security.

Well-placed auto dealership surveillance cameras will help prevent theft, track customers and visitors, and protect buildings and employees.

The service manager of BMW of Catonsville, Jeff Sterry, now uses surveillance cameras as a defensive tool. He noticed that many customers were reporting damage to their cars that they brought in for service. It was costing his dealership about $3,000-$4,000 a month to repair damage that typically was not caused by his service department. Once Sterry installed video surveillance he used it as insurance to check the recordings whenever damage was reported. This practice has saved the dealership about $20,000-$30,000 a year in damage costs.

While video surveillance does provide great security at auto dealerships, there are serious risks involved that need to be considered.


This is a serious matter to consider when placing any form of video surveillance. Be sure that you only capture footage in public areas like parking lots, lobbies or showrooms. Any area that an individual could have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as a bathroom or break room needs to be kept private.

Select states have laws requiring surveillance signs be posted if there are cameras in use. Even with sign posting, good privacy practices should still be taken seriously. The communication that there are cameras in use does not remove liability from the dealership in the case of invasion of privacy. However, the signs alone sometimes prevent criminal or unwanted activity.


Cameras monitoring outdoor locations are susceptible to damage from weather, as is outdoor inventory. A damaged camera can lead to interruptions in recordings and potentially expensive repair costs.

A good practice to avoid camera weather damage is to place outdoor cameras in a protective housing designed specifically to shield the camera while not interrupting the video stream. These protective housings can also protect from intentional damage thieves might try to cause.

Over Reliance

Video surveillance should be treated as an extra precaution and never as a sole security method. The cameras are effective, but as we have discussed, they are susceptible to risks. Especially for dealerships and garages that are protecting millions of dollars worth of inventory, every security procedure should have a backup, just in case one method fails or malfunctions.

The safe option to ensure you don’t over rely on your video surveillance is to have twenty-four-hour security guards survey the property when possible. If that is not a viable option for your location, at least a part-time security guard will be beneficial. Also, car alarms should always be on and ready to defend a vehicle that is being broken into.

These risks are important to consider and prevent further problems when installing video surveillance at an auto dealership or garage. Give CalAtlantic a call to find out how we can help you find solutions for your auto dealership surveillance questions.

Resources: Hidden cameras save dealership thousands

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