The present work reports an efficient way of capturing real-time crack propagation in concrete structures. The modified spectral analysis based algorithm and finite element modeling (FEM) were utilised for crack detection and quantitative analysis of crack propagation. Crack propagation was captured in cement-based composite (CBC) containing saw dust and M20 grade concrete under compressive loading using a simple and inexpensive 8-megapixel mobile phone camera. The randomly selected images showing crack initiation and propagation in CBCs demonstrated the crack capturing capability of developed algorithm. A measure of oriented energy was provided at crack edges to develop a similarity spatial relationship among the pairwise pixels. FE modelling was used for distress anticipation, by analysing stresses during the compressive test in constituents of CBCs. FE modeling jointly with the developed algorithm, can provide real-time inputs from the crack-prone areas and useful in early crack detection of concrete structures for preventive support and management.