What home security cameras for impending collapse of Massachusetts?

Governor Baker has now announced that schools in Massachusetts will be closed through June (i.e., until September). There was a hint at the briefing that businesses would also be ordered closed through June in that the order to close daycare for non-essential workers would be closed through June was explained with”to align reopening of child care with the reopening of businesses.”

We have friends who say that Massachusetts has a reasonable chance of descending into looting, home invasions, ATM kidnappings, etc. They’re not very tech-savvy, but they want some outdoor home security cameras that will at least discourage the roaming criminal gangs. What’s a good solution to secure the four corners of a suburban house? It has to be something easy for non-technical people to set up themselves. (And do cameras actually discourage criminals enough to motivate them to move to the next house that doesn’t have them?)

(Are their fears justified? There are a lot of programs for government hand-outs, but the free cash is limited to people who are great at filling out paperwork. That could leave a substantial portion of the population in desperate straits. Venezuela went from pleasant to lawless after a severe economic downturn. Why not the U.S.? I guess that is why everyone was buying guns and ammo until the gun shops ran out.)


  • Wirecutter recommends the Google Nest Outdoor Security Camera, but it doesn’t seem like it is intended for people who want to cover the entire perimeter of a suburban house (more like monitor the front door and driveway)

32 thoughts on “What home security cameras for impending collapse of Massachusetts?

    • Drive to the midwest, buy a Glock 43 and 1000 rounds, pay a farmer to teach you how to shoot it and let you practice with 500 rounds on their property. Collect the casings, take them home, and put them in a bucket on the front porch. The gun’s got a small grip, suitable for women, children, or a Massachusetts man with small hands.

      Then put up the sign suggested by Federico.

    • Steve: I don’t think that these folks want a gun. All of my Massachusetts friends who want guns already have dozens if not hundreds!

      (If you don’t mind some paperwork, this can be a relatively friendly state for the gun nut. A lot depends on the local police chief, apparently. An African American who applies for a gun permit in the City of Boston will find that the Second Amendment does not apply. A white suburbanite or exurbanite can build an arsenal with the support of the local constabulary.)

    • @Steve,

      I really don’t want to turn this thread into a debate about gun laws in Massachusetts, but your advice for people living here is awful. Possession of a handgun in this state without the proper license is an instant trip-to-prison felony, and the Castle Doctrine is limited in its scope. If anyone is really interested in Massachusetts gun laws, see:


      Also @Federico: Advertising you’re armed when you’re not is a good way to get killed quicker by anyone who wants to do you harm. I also disagree with philg’s characterization but again, I’m going to leave it for another time.

    • @Alex, do you have any actual data that shows that one is more likely to be killed if they false advertise having firearms in the house? what about swords? I recommend stating one is ‘armed’, I did not prescribe armed with what.

    • No, I don’t have hard data on that, it’s a judgment call of mine. If you’d like, you can try to persuade me that I’m wrong. In relatively “normal” times like these, I take it as a general philosophy that information about one’s guns should remain private for the safety and security of the gun owner. In a home invasion situation, it also preserves your element of surprise. You use the security system, cameras or the dog barking to alert you, but you don’t tell the criminal anything they don’t know. The most important advantages you have are time and surprise. I don’t believe in telling a potential intruder: “Get ready to shoot first.” It’s similar to the reason I don’t believe in open carry in public places. I also don’t put NRA stickers on my car. Concealed means concealed.

      It may also attract people who want to steal your weapons. Eventually, you’re going to leave the house.

      Then we get into the slippery slope (which is very easy to go down) of: “Everyone should know about anyone who owns a gun in our neighborhood.” I disagree with newspapers like the Journal News in New York State, who in 2012 took it upon themselves to publish the names and addresses of legal permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties on an interactive map. Many of those permit holders are people who don’t want that information published because they’re retired law enforcement officers, judges, and others who demonstrated to NYS a need to have a pistol permit, because they are at risk of being targeted by criminals.


      The activists at the Journal News published the map in response to the school shooting in Newtown, CT. They decided to “name and shame” everyone with a permit in Westchester and Rockland counties. “You want to find out where to go after a retired judge? Want to steal someone’s guns? Click on our map.”

      I believe that if you’re going to be consistent about keeping gun permit records private, you shouldn’t put a big sign on your porch telling people you’re armed.

    • Related: also, never fire a “warning shot”. Remember Joe Biden’s advice telling people to get a shotgun, walk out on the balcony and fire off a couple of blasts to ward off an intruder? You can Google it. That was even stupider advice than Trump’s halfhearted question about using disinfectant inside the body. Of course, Biden is a politician who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Regular people who want to stay out of jail shouldn’t do it, and Massad Ayoob explains why:

      “Why do we not fire warning shots?”
      “It’s an act of deadly force!”


      Finally, I know I didn’t address your question about swords. Using a sword would constitute deadly force and therefore it’s in the same legal ballpark as using a gun, but you don’t need a license to own one, as far as I’m aware. I’m 99% sure you’re allowed to keep a sword – or any other kind of knife – *in your home* as long as you don’t walk around in public with it. Then the MGL comes into play with all its restrictions:


      Some municipalities in Massachusetts have even more specific restrictions. A police officer can shoot you if you charge them with a sword, or a knife, in a deadly-force encounter. And even then, they can expect a district attorney to investigate the incident, believe it or not.

      Since this is Massachusetts, I have to remark that in 2019, activists in Cambridge fought to remove the state flag from city hall because of its depiction of a sword over an Algonquin Indian. So unless you’re claiming it’s part of your religion to promote jihad, in which case they wouldn’t want to offend you, maybe you don’t want your neighbors to know that, either.

      “It’s the visual of the sword seemingly aiming at the man that Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern said was brought to his attention as offensive. “That symbol does not represent the best of what Massachusetts has to offer, and we should change it,” he told WBZ.”

    • @Alex: if gun permits are a matter of public record, they are public. I do doubt jurnos published private info they had to put serious work into collecting.

      I thankfully live NOT in the US of A. We have guns, a lot of them. Nobody buys them for ‘self defence’, nonetheless guns are pervasive enough in my suburban community that home invasions do not happen to start with. The point in fact is not ‘what to do in case of a home invasion’. This is the thinking of fools. The point is ‘how to make people stop cold in their tracks and reverse their plan of invading your home’. That’s how you keep safe. Once people are in the house it’s a roll of the dice. Make them not want to come in. That’s the competent way of doing stuff.

  1. What are cameras going to do when everyone is masked by decree of the government?
    Trump yard signs for the deterrent. Or at least neighbors with Biden signs. You don’t have to outrun the bear just your slowest friend.
    Having a gun is a good idea, but if they don’t have one already they are out of luck, it is pretty funny hearing the stories of liberals being denied guns due to the laws they gleefully passed.
    Mostly it won’t matter the chance of getting picked randomly for crime in a decent MA suburb is pretty low. Unless they associate with degenerates or have kids that run with a bad crowd.

  2. Not sure of specific outdoor cameras (I’m looking as well) but for overall camera management, I recommend the free “ispy” software to run them and handle recordings. I’m not crazy about sending my videos to Google/Amazon/China, nor am I crazy about the high monthly fees most places charge *per camera*.

    If you trust Dropbox (I do), you can have the security camera save to a dropbox directory, so even if someone steals the PC you’ll still have the videos safe and sound. And you can check it from anywhere.

  3. > Are their fears justified? There are a lot of programs for government hand-outs, but the free cash is limited to people who are great at filling out paperwork.

    I’d say they are. Take a look at the number of police officers in your town’s department. There are a lot of places in Massachusetts where the PD has fewer than 10 officers, and some that have less than five. If law and order starts to break down, and especially if police themselves are sick, you’re going to be on your own a lot of the time, and then the odds get a lot worse. Home invasions happen, and I don’t think cameras and internet-based security systems do much to deter someone who is sufficiently desparate or crazy. Would your neighbors even realize what was happening if someone broke into your home? The cameras might help in catching the perps. after the responders have drawn chalk outlines around the bodies. You know about this (in my family, unfortunately) from our private conversations, and my views are biased by that event, so I offer the advice with that in mind. .

  4. The Nest camera is very reliable.
    In San Francisco security cameras have proved to be extremely useful in tracking down criminals – so they can receive a citation!

  5. Your city government needs to get their act together. Our city recently installed cameras everywhere to track license plates and deter (mostly property) crime. We didn’t have much crime to begin with, but I think this must have some deterrent effect.

    The local police are pretty vigilant, as well.

    Since they love spending money on government in your community, this should be a no brainer.

  6. Cheaper deterrent is NRA membership sign, but also sold out at Amazon.
    The problem with cameras is that they need power, so for outdoor installation you need to run wires, if you are doing it anyway, they you can get Ethernet cameras with power over Ethernet and recording box. Costco sells some kits sometimes.

    • Ok. I am assuming that you want a simple, low cost do-it-yourself system. I recently did some internet research on this about 4 months ago. I looked at NEST, Ring and Simplisafe plus some other less known systems. I didn’t look at ARLO so you might want to research them (I think they may have been more then I was willing to spend). I read a lot of user reviews (I tend to look at the percentage of 5,4,3,2,1 reviews and then scan many of the one-star reviews to see the specific criticisms)

      There are pros and cons. For instance the simplisafe has its own self-contained WiFi setup so you’re not depending on the reliability of your ISP.

      I decided on a Ring spot light cam for the garage and a Ring door bell. I was primarily concerned about intruders attempting to get in via the garage or the back door (the doors at those locations are weak and neighbors can’t see those areas). Both of them seem to work very well for my purpose. The door bell has a good picture up close, but the camera allows you to see several hundred feet into the backyard. The Spotlight cam picks up motion and also lights up the area at night. The spotlight cam resolution isn’t that great, but it lets me know if someone is there and by lighting up, it let’s them know they’ve been seen. I put a UPS on my wireless router to take care of temporary power glitches that apparently created communication problems with the Ring door bell.. The fee to keep the videos is only $3/month per unit. If you get a lot of units, the maximum cost is $10/month. Unfortunately, you have to have a reliable ISP for this system. If the ISP is down the cameras still record, but you don’t get real-time motion alerts.

      I think putting Ring Spot light cameras on the four corners of the house and hardwiring into the power would be a deterrent unless your ISP is unreliable.

      Relative to a gun for home defense, I’d recommend a shotgun over a handgun. Just lock yourself and loved ones in a room and call the cops. You’d have the shotgun in case the fool(s) actually try to get in the room (that way you know you’re actually shooting a robber and not Mindy)

      Good luck!

  7. Amazon’s Blink cameras are super easy to install and use. I use them on multiple properties.

  8. A better answer is to find the states that have already ended lockdowns and move to one of those states because that’s where you want to live. Plus I bet the airport go-around fees are lower for those rural areas for when your kids learn how to fly.

  9. “Possession of a handgun in this state without the proper license is an instant trip-to-prison felony”

    In theory yes, but in practice, no. It is virtually unheard of in Massachusetts for an actual criminal picked up for carrying an illegal firearm to get sentenced to the ‘mandatory’ year in jail as specified by the Bartley-Fox law.

    “In 1975, Massachusetts made a promising move with passage of the Bartley-Fox Amendment, which provided for a mandatory year in jail for anyone illegally carrying a gun.

    The law’s impact was never significant, in part because many who might have gotten a year in prison instead plea-bargained their way to lesser penalties. Very few were or are prosecuted under Bartley-Fox, although the law is still on the books.”

    • Seems like illegally carrying a gun and illegally possessing a gun are different things. Despite one alarmist presupposing that, I don’t think anyone here implied anyone should illegally carry a gun because nobody should really be going out. This was all about home defense. Any idea what the penalty for illegal possession in the context of a home might be? In Illinois, illegal carrying is a felony too, but simple illegal possession in one’s abode is just a misdemeanor.

    • Fellas, if you want to take your chances with it, talk about what’s legal in Illinois, what’s legal in Oshkosh, etc., etc. that’s up to you. If you’re unlicensed and you have to use the weapon, or get stopped in your car with it, etc., I hope you get an amazing break, there are no police involved, and it’s not someone who’ll be missed. If someone in your household or a neighbor decides to report you to the police because you have an unlicensed weapon, or you shoot someone, I hope they’re too busy to investigate. If there’s a real breakdown in law and order, maybe it’ll be the last thing on the mind of the police to arrest you.

      If you do run the risk and get caught and prosecuted, you can be sure that you’ll never get a license in the future, and you’ll be fighting to get out of jail/stay out of jail. Ignorance of the law (or blithely ignoring it because people it’s just “on the books”) isn’t an excuse.

      If you want to talk about this with a lawyer and hear their advice, by all means call someone from COMM2A, like Jason Guida, for instance, who is the past Director of the Firearms Record Bureau and a former prosecutor.


    • And separately @philg: COMM2A knows that Black Guns Matter and they were in Boston talking about it on February 15. Getting a license in Boston, African American or not, is not a walk in the park. I hope you enjoy walking on Moon Island.



      Please don’t take my advice as definitive. Read as much as you can. Massachusetts gun laws are the subject of countless thousands of posts on Northeast Shooters and that’s because they’re a pain in the ass. I don’t like the pain in the ass any more than anyone else.

  10. In terms of the otherwise law abiding suburban resident possessing a firearm either in their home or
    carrying it in public, they are basically equally screwed, mostly economically through paying many multiple tens of thousands of dollars for a lawyer. They probably won’t go to jail, but will really be jammed up legally.

    If you are an actual criminal carrying a gun, on the other hand, there is virtually no chance you’ll be going to jail for that, or even prosecuted for it, and you don’t have any money to pay they lawyers or fines or anything. You may be threatened with being prosecuted, but that is used as leverage to get you to plead to some other crime.

    You can do the math.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly. The people I know who do their absolute best to comply with a plethora of laws enacted to persecute them are not the ones causing the problems.

    • The Governor’s order to close gun ranges in Massachusetts is particularly malevolent: it not only keeps people from practicing safely, it prohibits anyone from complying with the licensure requirements. You can’t obey the law — you have to give up and wait indefinitely until the Governor decides he’ll allow you to obey the law. In every gun range I’ve ever been to, it’s easy to practice social distancing, and everyone is already accustomed to wearing protective gear and following safety procedures. All he had to do is stipulate a couple of other minor adjustments, and everyone would have complied.

      It’s really terrible. New York State did the same thing.

  11. Maybe a sign:

    See the camera well I can see you
    If you read this then you are in range

    On a more serious note: bright outdoor lights, alarm system, security alarm and signs, cameras that alert you on movement, and dogs.

  12. I can’t help noticing that a discussion that started out regarding harmless Chinese-made video cameras rapidly turned into a discussion regarding American- and European-made firearms!

    • I’m sorry, I’ll quit now.

      Apart from my posts about guns, I did — honestly– try to research and answer this question. I spent about four hours reading reviews of turnkey systems and the more you read, the more you have to read. They’re some of the most niche-marketed products on the planet, and the reviews are half marketing department speak. It would help if I knew how much they have budgeted. Do they need a mobile app.? Do they want to steer clear of contracts?

      PC Magazine tests 10 systems and gives 6 of them an Editor’s Choice rating. They can’t all be that good, can they? They have them in categories, and at that point you’re just getting started reading about each of them in depth. The Vivint system looks nice but it gets pricey fast. The bare bones starter kit is $599. One No cameras. $39.99 a month for the service plan. Then you read stuff like this:

      “While heating up a slice of pizza, a chunk of cheese landed on the heating element in my toaster oven, filling the kitchen with smoke and triggering the smoke alarm. I was out in the backyard and could hear what sounded like birds chirping; it was loud, but it took a minute or two to figure out it was the alarm (I had no idea what it was supposed to sound like). I ran inside, turned off the oven, and turned on the house fan. But before I could enter my code on the control panel, a Vivint representative called and informed me that the fire department had been notified since I failed to answer their first call and did not enter my code in time. Sure enough, a fire truck and the fire chief pulled up a few minutes later. The response time from the initial alarm to the fire department’s arrival was less than 10 minutes.”

      Awesome! I wonder how much it cost the fire department? What happens when five households in the same town with Vivint systems, all working from home, decide to heat up toaster oven pizza at the same time?


      Then I read about the Ring system on Tom’s Guide (formerly Tom’s Hardware back when hardware hacking was zexy.) They de-listed Ring’s system in 2019 because of an alleged security breach disclosing thousands of usernames and passwords. Ring denied it happened. Whom do you believe?

      It makes me think your friends should just buy an inexpensive 4 camera setup maybe with a hard drive and a backup UPS on Amazon, wire it up and let it go at that. Or take the advice of one poster here talking about dummy cameras and motion detectors.

      Heimvision has a 4 camera 1080p wireless system, outdoor, waterproof, etc., etc. $199 free shipping on Amazon. Hong Kong. 30 day warranty. If they want to return it unbroken, they have to pay the return shipping. Or they could order a system from Hisseu in Shenzen, China.


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