It's a saddening (and maddening) state of affairs, that many people see fit to needlessly damage other peoples vehicles. From tyres being slashed to paintwork being keyed, we've spoken to many customers who are suffering at the hands of vandals, and who are looking for a solution and we get asked almost daily whether dashcams can offer protection against this type of problem.

Just recently, as you may have seen in the mainstream media, the driver of an Aston Martin Vantage innocently parked their car in a Tesco's car park, only to return to find their car scratched, with a reported £9,000 worth of damage. Fortunately on this occasion, the driver had a BlackVue dashcam installed and images of the vandal quickly went viral, resulting in a 48-year old man being questioned by the police.

So that's it, case closed, dashcam footage helped to catch the vandal, so they work, right?! Simply choose a product from our wide range of cameras which offer parking protection and your troubles will be over, right?!

Well, yes and no. Dashcams are definitely an option if you're looking to protect your vehicle and capture footage while it's parked, but they do have some limitations and there are some things to consider, depending on what you're hoping to achieve, which we'd like to highlight to ensure that you find the correct product for your needs.

The difference between motion detection and parking protection

Even the most basic dashcams seems to have some motion detection functionality nowadays, and this enables the camera to be switched to a mode where it will monitor activity within it's view, and if detects any movement, it will start to record. When it no longer detects anything of interest, it stops recording again. As useful as this feature is, it does have some limitations.

Firstly, from when it initially detects movement, these is a short delay while it boots up before it actually starts recording. While usually less than a second, these vital moments could be crucial if you need to refer to this footage for evidence. Secondly, motion detection usually needs to be enabled manually when required, which can mean that you need to remember to do it each and every time you park your vehicle. And you just know that something will happen on the once occasion that you forget to turn it on, right?!

More advanced parking protection modes can detect when you have been parked for a short time and automatically switch to the relevant setting, where upon they continually monitor activity, and create a video file whenever motion is detected. Cleverly, these video files usually start a few seconds before the activity was detected, meaning you get a clear picture of the entire event.

View all of our cameras that offer parking protection

Low light performance

One of the enquiries we receive the most is from frustrated drivers who, for whatever reason, have become the target of vandals, and are looking to catch them in the act with dashcam footage. Unfortunately a lot of this vandalism occurs under the shadow of darkness, so some form of night-vision is a requirement. Unfortunately, while some dashcams feature infra-red LEDs, there are a gimmick, and dashcams simply aren't designed for use in low-light conditions. During regular use at night, their view is illuminated by headlights and street lighting which means that they're able to capture good quality images, and some models also feature a high dynamic range which allows them to manipulate this image to improve them even further, but without a significant light source dashcams will struggle to capture any meaningful footage. Even if you park in an area with adequate street lighting, which might enable you to capture a person committing a crime, it's debatable as to whether you would be able to make out enough detail to identify them.

360 degree coverage

During normal use, a dashcam only really needs to cover the view from the front, and possibly the rear, in order to capture the vast majority of meaningful activity that it needs to. However, in the case of a vehicle being targeted by vandals or thieves, the sides of the vehicle are prime target areas, and so many of our customers are looking for 360 degree coverage from their cameras. While it is possible to add multiple cameras inside a vehicle to cover additional angles, this can cause complications where mounting and powering are concerned, and so isn't the ideal application for dashcams.

Hardwiring

Hardwiring is the process of connecting your car camera directly to your vehicles electrical system so that it can receive power while your ignition is off. Many vehicles will cut the supply of power to the cigarette lighter socket when the ignition is switched off, meaning that you can't run dashcams this way if you hope to use the parking features. By hardwiring your camera, you ensure that it has a continual source of power and so it can record while you're away from your car, but this can mean some extra effort and expense, especially as we'd always recommend the use of a qualified professional when carrying out electrical work.

Memory card capacity

This becomes less of an issue as dashcam technology moves forwards and they can accept larger capacity memory cards, but with the majority of our customers opting for relatively small, inexpensive memory cards with their cameras, this is still worth mentioning. As a rough guide, a 32GB memory card will hold around 5-6 hours of high quality footage in total which, through loop recording and clever space management systems is perfectly acceptable during regular use. However, some customers are looking for a system which will store many hours, or even days worth of footage as a more traditional CCTV would and this simply isn't achievable without a very high capacity memory card, which are still prohibitively expensive. And even then, only a very small number of dashcam models support this size of card.

Live streaming

The idea of being able to connect to your dashcam, from anywhere in the world, and see activity around your vehicle is one that we're often asked about, but there simply hasn't been an answer to. However, that may all be about to change with the development of "BlackVue in the Cloud". This new feature from BlackVue is only in it's early launch stages but seems to offer some exciting functionality that may offer a new dimension in vehicle security. The technical details are, at time of writing, still not fully understood, but essentially, if your dashcam is able to connect to a wifi hotspot, it will be able to upload live images that you'll be able to view via an online portal. While this is largely aimed at fleet managers, to enable them to track their vehicles, it clearly has significant security benefits too.

Summary

So, hopefully you're now more aware as to the strengths and weaknesses that dashcams have, where vehicle security is concerned. There's no denying that car cameras can play a key role in protecting your vehicle while you're away from it, but they might not be the solution in every case.

However, if you still think that a dashcam is something that you'd like to look into further, you can browse all of our models that offer any form of parking protection here. Cameras that have proven popular in this area have been the BlackVue DR3500-FHD, the BlackVue DR650S-2CH and the Lukas LK-7950 which could each be worth a look. The BlackVue DR3500-FHD is a front-facing camera and is their entry-level dashcam, but it still features an advanced parking protection mode. The BlackVue DR650S-2CH and Lukas LK-7950 cameras each offer front and rear recording and will automatically switch to their parking modes when required.

If you have any questions as to whether car cameras might be suitable for your needs, please do get in touch and we'll be happy to advise.