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View Full Version : Do restaurants typically have cameras in the parking lots?



Mark Moore
03-15-2014, 07:44 AM
In one of my WIPs, there's a pickup-driving guy that's being an ass to my MCs over a parking space when my MCs go out to eat, and I'm wondering if it would be possible for them to get revenge (such as letting the air out of his tires) without having to worry about being recorded.

NeuroGlide
03-15-2014, 08:57 AM
In one of my WIPs, there's a pickup-driving guy that's being an ass to my MCs over a parking space when my MCs go out to eat, and I'm wondering if it would be possible for them to get revenge (such as letting the air out of his tires) without having to worry about being recorded.

I assume you mean current day, but location is important. Rural, urban, fast food, family style sit-down, mom & pops, off the highway. Even if there is one, it may not clearly catch the action. Time of day and lighting are both relevant as is distance and cleanliness of the lens.

If the jerk is really smart, he backs the valve stem slightly out, then puts the valve cap back on. Tire leaks slowly so it doesn't go flat for a couple hours. They make a special tool for it, but you can make one if you're willing to mutilate a cheap pen.

melindamusil
03-15-2014, 09:46 AM
Thing is, I don't think there is a "typical" in this situation. At a busy urban/suburban mall with a high amount of traffic, it's probably more likely to be recorded. At a rural diner, it's probably less likely. But even then, I don't think there is any hard and fast rule. Even if it's an urban restaurant, if the owners don't have much money or have never had a problem with crime, then they might not have cameras. Likewise, the paranoid owner of a rural diner might have cameras.

In other words? It's a bit of a crapshoot. You can do whatever works best for your story, and I think it will be believable either way.

ETA: insurance might also affect the situation. A restaurant owner might be able to get a discount/lower rate on their property insurance by installing surveillance cams. But, again, that's not at all a guarantee and would vary based on the insurance company, the size of the restaurant being insured, and a bunch of other variables. So again - do what works best for your story, and chances are it will be believable either way.

King Neptune
03-15-2014, 05:14 PM
There are restaurants with video cameras in the parking lots, but those are still rare. It's an expense that doesn't produce revenue. The few that I have known of were rather upscale restaurants in questionable areas. Parking lots in malls usually are covered by video, but a freestanding restaurant in he suburbs probably would not be under surveillance.

jaksen
03-15-2014, 07:04 PM
Where I live, southeastern MA, lots of small towns, but considered densely-populated, the answer is YES.

And more and more are doing so, for security reasons.

NeuroGlide
03-16-2014, 12:56 AM
I should also point out that if it's an old system it might still be using VHS tapes, twenty year old VHS tapes.

melindamusil
03-16-2014, 01:01 AM
I should also point out that if it's an old system it might still be using VHS tapes, twenty year old VHS tapes.

There are also a fair number of gas stations who use fake "dummy" cameras that aren't actually recording anything. I would imagine it would be the same for restaurants.

MagicWriter
03-16-2014, 12:31 PM
In one of my WIPs, there's a pickup-driving guy that's being an ass to my MCs over a parking space when my MCs go out to eat, and I'm wondering if it would be possible for them to get revenge (such as letting the air out of his tires) without having to worry about being recorded.

The restaurant may or may not have them. There may be surrounding businesses that have them and will pick it up. Keep in mind that if this person is found on video, in order for the footage to be used in court, the character that suffered the damage needs a court subpoena to get the footage, he can't just demand the restaurant give it to him, and the restaurant or whoever owns the camera, doesn't have to comply without that subpoena.

MDSchafer
03-16-2014, 05:09 PM
Nope.

jaksen
03-16-2014, 05:17 PM
I've noticed more and more, on the local news, the use of security camera footage to help locate someone who has held up a gas station, or started a fight after hours near a bar, or to identify someone who perhaps grabbed a girl and molested her, etc. It's becoming more common in the cities, of course, but also in small towns. The cameras are outside restaurants, bars, small shops and businesses, etc.

And whenever they do this - on the news - I stare hard at the 'culprit,' because having been a teacher for several eons and having taught well over 3,000 kids - well, if I recognize anyone, I'm gonna report'em.

Damn right I am. :D

Mark Moore
03-17-2014, 04:56 AM
Wow, lots of different responses on this.

For what it's worth, this story is set in Ocala, Florida, and the incident occurs at an unnamed burger joint.

Koulentis
03-17-2014, 09:34 AM
the incident occurs at an unnamed burger joint.

My experience is based on overseeing the construction of several buildings, including a burger drive thru. More importantly, I eat more hamburgers than anyone I know.

All burger joints will have a camera (or two) on the drive-thru. If it's a mom and pop place, a camera in the parking lot is very unlikely. However, having an internal camera aimed at the front door (parking lot in the background) is common for even the smallest businesses. That said, even the most secure parking lot has some dark spots. Depending on the position of the culprit, the truck, and the camera - the truck might completely obstruct the view.

The best answer is melindamusil's response, "It's believable either way."

EMaree
03-17-2014, 01:29 PM
In the UK we'll usually have cameras covering the building entrance, and sometimes the parking lot, but parking lots are usually signposted to make it clear that the business is in no way responsible for anything that happens in the lot. Businesses don't want responsibility for car breaks-ins, crashes, and all the usual parking lot craziness.

akiwiguy
03-17-2014, 10:20 PM
Personally, if reading such a scene, I wouldn't give a thought as to whether they "should have been caught on video". Possibly in the reverse scenario, i.e. if the plot did involve their being caught on video, I might question the likelihood of that occurring in a remote location.