Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Someone is graffitiing my door—can I put a camera in the peephole to catch them?

The first step is to put a sign on your door saying that you have installed a camera and will press charges against anyone defacing your property. 

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2020
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Question:

Someone is my building is repeatedly putting graffiti on my apartment door. Is it an invasion of my neighbors' privacy if I put in a camera in the peephole to catch whoever is doing this? Signed, Completely Fed Up

Answer:

Dear Fed Up,

Putting a camera in someone’s bedroom without their knowledge is an invasion of privacy. Putting a camera in a public space is not. I am surprised that your building does not already have cameras on each floor already. They not only provide a great deal of security but often prevent people doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

This is what I would do: I would place a sign on your door stating that you have installed a camera and will press charges against anyone defacing your property. Then, I would wait and see if that works. If it doesn’t, I really would install a camera.

Here's a simple hack: Duct tape your iPad to the inside of the peephole. Make sure it is fully charged and let it run! Once you have the evidence you need, call 911 and file a complaint. 

Security cameras are such a boon to buildings that they should be everywhere. They are costly but very effective. I often warn potential shareholders that they should not do anything other than laundry in the laundry room if they don't want to star in a movie—because our building has cameras in there. 

My building was able to avoid a potentially expensive lawsuit when the camera outside of the lobby saw a shareholder fall while he was very drunk. He tried to sue us because he said our railings were not up to code (they were) but the camera told a different story and that was the end of that.

So, install a camera if you have to and hopefully it will catch the person messing with your door.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.