How To Get Security Camera Footage From A Store

A while back I had dropped my wallet in front of my car at a gas station only to have someone pick it up and steal it.

I had to go through a bit of a process to get a hold of the gas station’s security camera footage so I have some experience with this particular situation and ill be giving you some great methods below.

Determine the Reason Why You Need the Footage

camera footage

Today, you can see cameras almost everywhere. The most important thing to think about when you ask a store for a surveillance video is whether your reason is strong enough to convince them to hand over the recorded video. 

The video footage of the accident can provide clear evidence of your claim for compensation. Getting into an accident is not all there is to it. You might be involved in a theft or harassment case. On the other hand, you might simply lose your belongings at the store. Make sure you explain your situation and the necessary details clearly.

Ask the Manager of the Store

man checking cctv footage

Everyone has the right to ask. A non-accusatory tone would be appropriate when asking the owner for assistance. There may be an item you are looking for in the store’s lost and found bin in the manager’s office waiting for you to contact the store. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with asking for CCTV footage.

To request permission from the CCTV system’s owner you need to send a formal request. A written request is ideal, but a verbal request is also acceptable. In most cases, the camera’s owner’s information is written on an attached sign (unless it is obvious, like with a shop).

Tell them that you are seeking information about yourself that is protected by data protection laws. If you want to request your personal data, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has guidelines for you.

Identify yourself by providing information, for instance:

  1. The time and date of a specific event.
  2. A document proving your identity.
  3. Helping the process with a brief description of yourself.

Video footage from CCTV cameras must usually be provided free of cost within one month of purchase.

The CCTV owner cannot share any footage due to the following reasons:

  1. There are other people visible in it.
  2. In order to protect people’s identity, they cannot edit people out.

It is possible for the CCTV owner to invite you to watch the footage if:

  1. It’s not possible for them to provide you with recordings.
  2. An agreement is accepted by you.
  3. In the event that sharing the footage would compromise an ongoing criminal investigation, they can refuse.

It is, unfortunate that most business owners or property owners are not willing to provide you with surveillance tapes if you ask for them, especially in the event of an accident that you did not cause. The following steps are to be taken in order to obtain it:

Hire an Attorney

two man signing paper

Immediately after being injured on someone’s property, you should contact an experienced premises liability attorney. Getting a copy of video footage from the negligent owner can be as simple as sending them a letter stating your claim and asking them to send you a copy. You can hope that this will discourage them from tossing out the footage. (1)

File a lawsuit


Some property managers and owners of properties ignore letters, refusing to turn over footage or destroy it. Therefore, you will need to file a lawsuit right away and ask the court to issue a writ commanding the negligent party to attend court to provide the surveillance footage to you. An owner who destroys an object (in this case the recorded video), may be responsible for any damage caused. (2)

How Long Do Businesses Usually Keep Security Camera Footage?

The answer to this question differs from organization to organization and depends on what the organization needs in terms of video surveillance. Almost all store managers recommend to both business and residential customers that they buy hard drives big enough to store video footage for at least a month. It is possible that the company will recommend that video footage be stored for up to three months, depending on the company’s size.

If a business chooses to record surveillance footage through a motion detector, it will also affect how much footage is recorded over time. Continuously recording, on a schedule, or whenever motion is detected, will all affect the amount of footage available.

Final Thoughts

Even when some individuals and organizations provide video footage voluntarily, in some cases, video footage may need to be obtained through formal legal channels. To obtain a surveillance video of yourself, you must be aware of the legal procedures. Remember that a polite tone is always a plus in any situation. Be patient when exchanging information and requirements.

There is also a possibility that locating and copying accident footage from a company’s massive database of video recordings would be too expensive or difficult. It is likely that you will need an attorney in order to secure any available camera footage on your behalf, regardless of the case (and to assure that any video footage you obtain will be admissible in court). 

(1) Hire an Attorney –
(2) writ –

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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