Sales of home surveillance cameras are skyrocketing thanks to cheaper and better technology and Kiwis' increased exposure to reports of crime.

Dash cams and GoPros are also proving popular as more and more of us look to preserve even the most mundane parts of our lives.

The Big Read: We're all Big Brother

The Weekend Herald spoke to retailers and police about the trend after yet another dramatic incident — a truck jack-knifing on Auckland's Southern Motorway — was captured on amateur camera.


Motorist Pete Smith recorded the incident on his Gator dash cam and joined a growing list of regular people filming attention-grabbing incidents as they unfold.

The fact footage was captured comes as no surprise to those selling the devices, but authorities have also warned those using them to be careful about how they use the technology, including protecting themselves and others.

PB Tech marketing and e-commerce manager Richard Elstob said sales of home surveillance cameras were up 120 per cent year on year for the last three years, ahead of GoPro sales which are rising by about 90 per cent a year.

Dash cams are less popular, but still performing well with sales increasing by 30 to 40 per cent for the last five years.

"They're getting cheaper and easier to install, and anyone can put them together and sync them with their phone."

Noel Leeming would not share figures, but executive general manager of merchandise Jason Bell said they had also seen significant growth in sales of dash cams, GoPros and other action cameras, along with home security systems.

"Solutions such as Arlo [security cameras], which are completely wireless with rechargeable batteries, make for very easy installation and have proven to be particularly popular."

All Round Security director Philip Walsh was selling 40 per cent more CCTV packages, and people from "average houses on average streets" were spending $2000 to $3000 to put in surveillance.

But Walsh also said unfounded safety fears — sparked by social media exposing many more people to incidents of crime than word of mouth previously could — had a part to play in the increased demand.

"[Before social media] if your neighbour's been broken into, you'd know and the five neighbours around you might know. Now, within an hour 500 people could know.

"You think there's so much happening. There's not."

Police have also noticed a surge in private surveillance taking place and then being published.

They have used private footage themselves, such as in the case of an incident in February when a woman was grabbed on a suburban Auckland street and pulled into a car, before escaping soon after.

A car was spotted on a nearby home's surveillance camera and a man arrested and charged.

National Crime Prevention manager, Superintendent Eric Tibbott, said home surveillance could be a useful tool for crime prevention and community safety.

But use must be lawful, fair and not unreasonably intrusive, Tibbott said.

Advice on the Privacy Commissioner's website on the use of surveillance cameras includes making sure neighbours are aware of cameras and letting them view footage if requested.

Whether footage could be used as evidence depended on the legality of the recording, Tibbott said.

He also urged care when posting surveillance footage on social media.

Facebook community pages are frequently used by residents to post screengrabs of what they believe to be suspicious behaviour on their properties, and while social media could be a powerful tool, all information on crime and suspicious activity should be reported to police, he said.

"This ensures inquiries are undertaken to make sure information is verified, and that potential offenders are held accountable where possible."

Posts on offenders could also jeopardise criminal investigations and any subsequent court process that may take place, Tibbott said.

Fortress Security director Steve Roberts said it was also important to learn how to protect yourself.

The cameras could be hacked, putting at risk those on the other side of the lens.

Overseas media have reported creepy incidents in which home surveillance cameras, including baby monitor cameras, have been hacked.

The footage, including of sleeping children, has then been broadcast live on the internet.

Updates should always be installed and default user names and passwords changed, Roberts said.