The Deterrent Effect of Surveillance Cameras on Crime

Produced by: 
Universidad EAFIT
Available from: 
March 2020
Paper author(s): 
Santiago Gómez
Daniel Mejía
Santiago Tobón
Topic: 
Conflict, Crime and Violence
Year: 
2020

From the US to Colombia to China, millions of public surveillance cameras are at the core of crime prevention strategies. Yet, we know little about the effects of surveillance cameras on criminal behavior, especially in developing economies. We study an installation program in Medellín and find t hat t he q uasi-random allocation of cameras led to a decrease in crimes and arrests. With no increase in the monitoring capacity and no chance to use camera footage in prosecution, these results suggest offenders were deterred rather than incapacitated. We test for spillovers and find no evidence of crime displacement or diffusion of benefits to surrounding locations.

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