What About Fake Cameras? Are They Useful for Preventing Vandalism and Crime?

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What About Fake Cameras? Are They Useful for Preventing Vandalism and Crime?
What About 'Fake' Cameras? Are They Useful for Preventing Vandalism and Crime?

Setting up a CCTV surveillance system can be both expensive and difficult to maintain. The costs alone are enough to turn most people away. As a result, a market has developed for dummy security cameras, which simply give the impression that a property is under surveillance, but they do not actually take video. Although these items are much more accessible to homeowners and small businesses, many people question whether they will actually be able to deter criminal activity on their property. Although a dummy security system may provide more protection than no cameras at all, it is important to find and install products that will appear as much like real ones as possible. Buyers should consider the potential benefits and pitfalls of dummy security cameras to decide if they will work for their needs.

Benefits of Fake Security Cameras

The biggest selling point for dummy CCTV security systems is the possibility of protection at a fraction of the cost of a real setup. While a real security camera can cost hundreds of dollars, fake ones can be purchased for $10 to $30 each. In addition, fake cameras do not require the wiring, monitoring stations, and maintenance of an actual system, which can end up costing owners thousands of dollars over time.

While an authentic system requires a technician to run cables through the building or establish a wireless network, fake cameras can be installed quickly and with relative ease by anyone with common tools. Dummy security systems do not require their owners to manage and store recorded information, and there are little or no repairs needed to maintain them, since they do not technically have complex "working" parts.

But do dummy cameras prevent crime? Many owners find that a fake security camera is capable of lowering incidents of vandalism or petty theft. Common criminals seek easy targets and may be deterred if there is any danger of being caught, in which case dummy cameras do not need to record anything to protect against an activity. For homeowners and businesses at little risk of serious criminal activity, fake cameras can be an inexpensive and effective deterrent against opportunistic thieves.

Pitfalls of Fake Security Systems

The obvious drawback to a fake security camera is that it can only help deter unwanted activity. It cannot prove any wrongdoing or assist authorities with identifying people after they have committed a crime. Also, it is possible for potential criminals to learn from neighbors, former employees, or others in the know that a security system is fake, at which point it offers no protection to its owner.

Keep in mind that many criminals are willing to perpetrate their acts in spite of real security cameras. In these cases, a dummy security system cannot provide any protection to its owner, before of after the incident.

Choosing the Right Fake Camera System

There are many shapes, sizes, and designs of dummy security cameras. Some are metal and produced from recycled castings of actual cameras, while others are inexpensive plastic models with original designs. To maximize the potential of a dummy security camera, it is important to choose items carefully and install them in a believable manner. The best way to do this is to become familiar with authentic security cameras.

Real vs. Fake Camera Designs

Knowledgeable criminals will be able to spot cheap dummy cameras at a glance. Even average people who are paying attention may be able to identify a fake with relative ease. In some cases, dummy cameras are designed with features to make them feel more ominous or authentic, but because these features are only found on fakes, they actually have the opposite effect.


The first thing to keep in mind is that real cameras require both input and output wires. Many fake cameras use only a single wire that connects to the base mount. Criminals who have any knowledge on the subject will immediately identify a single-wire camera as a fake.

Red Security Lights

The second thing to watch out for on fake security cameras is red lights. This feature is designed to draw attention to the camera and give the impression that the camera is recording, though these lights appear almost exclusively on fake cameras. The only lights on actual security cameras are green ones that indicate the camera has power. These are hidden in the back and are only a reference for owners and technicians. A flashing red light is actually a beacon to criminals, signalling that the home or business has no real security protection.

Panning Cameras

Movement patterns are another difference between real and fake cameras. Many dummy camera manufacturers advertise a motor that turns the camera from side to side. However, very few real security cameras have a swivel mechanism, and the ones that do are typically designed to track the movement of people nearby, not simply pan back and forth. As with the red light, this feature may seem to add authenticity to a fake security system, but it instead reveals a camera's artificial nature to criminals.

Installing Fake Camera Systems

In some cases, it may seem reasonable to add authentic-looking fake cameras to an existing security system to enhance its appearance and further deter criminals. While this has the potential to be effective, there are some things to watch out for.

Integrating fake cameras with real ones has the potential to accent the dummies, as it can be difficult to match the two. Colors may be off, wires may be different sizes, attachment arms may be larger or smaller, and the material itself may be of a poorer quality and appear physically different than an authentic camera. In this case, a criminal may still be able to determine which parts of a home or business are being supervised and which are not.

Additionally, be aware that setting up numerous cameras may actually tell criminals the proprietor has implemented a false security system. The cost of an authentic CCTV system is high and increases with each camera added. Experienced criminals know this and will be able to identify a system that seems too comprehensive for its setting. It is therefore important to place dummy cameras in a way that seems reasonable for the income-level of the home or business. For example, a two-bedroom home with ten security cameras on the outside may immediately suggest to intruders that the cameras are fake.

It is also important to place dummy cameras in believable places and positions. When installing a dummy security system, choose locations for the cameras that reflect the owner's actual concerns for products or possessions. In other words, place dummies as if they were real. A camera that does not seem to be monitoring anything important can be a clue that the system is fake.

Research Security Cameras

Before purchasing dummy security cameras, take the time to research authentic systems. Inspect the design and functions of these cameras and compare them with dummies to find models that have the most authentic appearance. It is also useful to read reviews of dummy camera products. Companies producing quality items should have positive reviews available online.

Shop for Fake Security Cameras on eBay

To shop for dummy security cameras, head to the eBay homepage. Begin by opening the All Categories tab and selecting Electronics. From there, choose the option for TV , Audio & Surveillance, followed by Home Surveillance. Last, choose the option for Dummy Cameras. You then have the option to narrow item listings by camera type and brand. Alternately, you may enter keywords to find specific items. For example, to find a bullet - style outdoor dummy camera, type "bullet outdoor dummy camera" into the field and click the Search button to see a list of all items tagged with those terms.

Read item listings for dummy security cameras carefully. Check the price of the item as well as applicable shipping costs. Inspect a user's accepted payment methods to be sure you will be able to pay promptly for your purchase. Examine photos of dummy security cameras and contact the seller if you have questions.

Research seller profiles before purchasing a dummy security camera. Check feedback ratings and the number of completed transactions to determine the reliability of a seller, and read comments left by other buyers for more detailed information. Once you have received your order, return to eBay to leave seller feedback. To do this, open the My eBay tab on the homepage and choose the link for Purchase History. A list of all your previous transactions is shown, and you can leave feedback for each. If you are dissatisfied with a transaction, contact the seller to see if a resolution can be reached.


Dummy security cameras hold the potential to deter criminal activity. They do not require the installation, maintenance, or recording equipment of real CCTV systems, making them an inexpensive alternative. Although dummy cameras may help prevent minor thefts and other opportunistic activities, they are unlikely to prevent premeditated acts and cannot help their owners and authorities identify criminals or prove wrongdoing in the event of a crime.

To make a dummy camera system as effective as possible, it is important to research the appearance and functioning of actual cameras. Choose items that have two cables coming from the back and no red LED lights. It is also best to avoid cameras with a swivel function. When buying and installing cameras, it is important to place them in believable locations and use a number that seems realistic for the building. With the right information buyers can choose cameras that will help deter unwanted activity in or around a home or business.

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