The Deterrent Effect of Public Surveillance Cameras on Crime

28 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2017  

Santiago Gomez-Cardona

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Santiago Tobon

University of Chicago; Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics; Innovations for Poverty Action

Date Written: February 3, 2017

Abstract

We investigate if there is any effect on crime following the installation of public surveillance cameras. To do so, we benefit from a quasi-experiment that took place in Medellin, Colombia with the installation of 587 cameras between 2013 and 2015. We highlight three main findings. First, there is a statistically significant decline in total crime after the installation of the cameras. On average, total crime reports are 23.5% lower within the coverage zone following the installation of a camera relative to the average baseline level of crime reports. Second, we also find a statistically significant decline in arrests. The magnitude of this effect is 31.5% relative to the average baseline level of arrests. Along with the facts that the monitoring capacity of the system of public surveillance cameras is low and decreased during the installation period, and the two year installation period is unlikely to allow for the public surveillance cameras to be used by the criminal justice system for aggravated sentences, these results suggest that the effect of the surveillance cameras on reported crime are driven by a deterrent effect on potential offenders. Third, we do not find any crime spillover effects after the installation of the cameras nor we see any diffusion of benefits to surrounding places.

Keywords: Public Surveillance Cameras; Deterrence; Incapacitation, Law Enforcement; Crime

JEL Classification: H41, K42

Suggested Citation

Gomez-Cardona, Santiago and Mejia, Daniel and Tobon, Santiago, The Deterrent Effect of Public Surveillance Cameras on Crime (February 3, 2017). Documento CEDE No. 2017-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2912947 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2912947

Santiago Gomez-Cardona (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

Daniel Mejia

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1 No. 18 A - 10
Bogotá, AA4976
Colombia
57(1)3394949 ext 3737 (Phone)
57(1)3324492 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://economia.uniandes.edu.co/share/scripts/home/home.php

Santiago Tobon

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

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