Fake Security Cameras: A Dangerous Sense of Safety

Brad Smith

Brad Smith - Editorial Staff

Updated: March 31, 2020

What is a Fake Security Camera?

To be fair, while a fake camera isn’t the best, it’s better than having nothing at all. To a criminal who is quickly eyeing potential homes to invade, seeing a decoy may be enough to scare them off. However, most burglars are more clever than that.

More specifically, a fake security camera mimics a genuine one in appearance, or at least it does its best. Looking at a dummy camera and a real surveillance cam side by side, one might notice that the buttons and lenses look quite similar. The inauthentic ones may have the same dome lights, too.

These days, more and more companies and systems are offering this option to consumers. While it could save families money initially, it’s not a sustainable solution, as we’ll see below.

The Benefits of Using Fake Security Cameras

First, a look at how a fake camera could be a better alternative than nothing at all. Besides, lots of criminals will scout out a home before they decide to strike. Even the mere presence of an outdoor surveillance system can stir up some doubts in their minds, even if they’re just fake security cameras.

1. They’re Much Cheaper Than the Real Thing

For one thing, a fake security camera is way cheaper than an authentic video cam. Consider that a professionally-installed CCTV system can cost hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, individuals can go to the store and come indoors with a dummy cam for $20. The promise of no monthly fees or lengthy contracts is also tempting.

2. They Can Make Criminals Feel Uneasy

Another advantage is that an outdoor decoy can cause intruders to pause before breaking in. Whether it’s genuine or not, seeing some kind of surveillance product is enough to make a criminal think twice. Often, the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out if the thing is an authentic video recorder or not isn’t worth their while.

3. There’s No Hassle With Installation & Maintenance

One of the biggest annoyances with a professional safety system is that it takes time to set it up. Plus, the owner needs to continually check up on it to ensure that it’s working properly. Not so with a decoy since it’s not doing anything anyway. From this perspective, consumers save time, money, and energy.

The Drawbacks of Using Fake Cameras

While it’s great to save money, a fake camera is certainly no substitute for a genuine video recorder. Before people start flocking to the hardware store for a decoy, they should read on about the risks of relying on inauthentic products. Below are the top pitfalls to be aware of.

1. They’re Not as Sleek as They Seem

At first glance, fake surveillance cameras look quite convincing with a red dome light and similar exterior. However, lots of burglars in 2020 have many tricks up their sleeves, including spotting a decoy from a mile away. Even though an outdoor home fixture may look genuine to the neighbors, criminals are more clever when it comes to these things. Part of their training or preparation is being able to distinguish inauthentic products from the bunch.

2. The Price Isn’t Always That Great

Yes, some options cost around $20, but there are plenty of decoys that have a hefty price tag. For a truly convincing one, consumers could end up paying upwards of $100. Considering that many DIY systems offer video doorbells, LED lights, and CCTV monitoring for around that price, this is a rip-off. Besides, can someone really put a price on their home or family’s safety?

3. Dummy Cameras Are Non-Functional

Another thing to keep in mind is that even though fake surveillance cameras look genuine, they aren’t doing anything. The lens isn’t capturing any footage, the motion detector is dormant, and the blinking light is entirely for show. This lack of captured images and recordings will be of no use when filing a police report if it comes to that.

4. A Fake Security Camera Makes People Feel Safe When They’re Not

Yet another drawback is a false sense of safety. Just because someone uses a decoy, it doesn’t mean that they’re protected from criminals. Yet the way many of these products are marketed, it’s easy for consumers to feel false hope and confidence that they’ll be safe and sound. The reality is that most burglars know how to spot the inauthentic models, so these items are not a sustainable or standalone solution.

5. They Can Lead to Lawsuits

In a worst-case scenario, using a dummy security camera can lead to people taking legal action. For instance, a business might use one of these decoys to make their employees and customers feel safe. This can make them feel comfortable enough to leave valuables in their cars or at their desks. Next thing they know, a thief steals their belongings, there’s no video evidence, and they decide to press charges against the business.

Why Fake Security Cameras Don’t Always Work

Throughout 2020, consumers are bound to see or hear about the benefits of a fake camera. While they may have their place – sometimes – people need to be aware of the dangers and risks that come with relying on these home products. So, why don’t these things work as well as people think they will?

In many cases, the companies that manufacture these products seek out the cheapest materials. If they’re going to sell the cams for an affordable price, then they don’t want to spend lavishly on high-tech light equipment and durable parts. Also, some businesses forget or choose not to put a brand name on the item. This can be an obvious sign that the model isn’t genuine.

Finally, lots of these models come with extra cables and flashing red bulbs to make them look more official or secure. In reality, it’s just a lot of excess material, which can confuse buyers even more. They might end up leaving wires dangling, which will expose their facade. Moreover, lots of blinking LED’s and flashing bulbs can attract criminals to the home rather than deter them.

In summary, these items don’t work for a few main reasons:

Why Consumers Should Opt for Real Cameras

A dummy security camera can have its short-term advantages, but the genuine model puts it to shame. First of all, burglars find it easy to spot a decoy as well as a brand-name product. Most of the time, they’ll know when something is an actual working item. The best defense against an intruder or package thief is with an authentic device, and the benefits are profound:

  • Enjoy the peace of mind of a true recording device
  • Get timely alerts and mobile notifications
  • Record video evidence in case legal action is required
  • Remote access to see what’s going on at indoor
  • Save money in the long-term
  • Take advantage of professional monitoring

Spending some extra money now can translate huge savings down the road. Plus, there are more options in 2020 than ever before, including self-monitored systems, emergency police dispatching, DIY installation, remote control, text alerts, live streaming, and contract-free plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do Fake Security Cameras Really Work?

    While it can’t record or take photos of criminals in the act, a fake video camera can give off the appearance of added protection. Whether this works as a deterrent to burglars is another story. Some of them may be put off by the presence of such an object, while others can expertly identify the decoys from the originals.

  • Are Dummy Cameras Illegal?

    No, they’re not against the law, but they could lead to unwanted legal action. This is a worst-case scenario, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. This is particularly true if a business posts a public sign that says the premises are being recorded. If someone falls victim to a theft at the company, they can sue, stating that they believed the area was protected by a cam system.

  • How to Know If a Security Camera is Real?

    There are a few ways that burglars can figure out if a decoy is an authentic piece of equipment or if it’s a cheap knock-off. First, they can look for a brand name, such as ADT or Brinks. If they don’t see that, then they might get closer and check out the construction and materials of the device. A shoddy structure and flimsy parts are telltale signs that the device is inauthentic. Moreover, the thief might pay attention to where the product is placed or mounted and if any ambiguous wires are trailing off somewhere.

  • Do Real Security Cameras Have Blinking Lights?

    It depends on the model, but excessive blinking is one way that burglars try to spot a fake video camera. The genuine model may have red or blue LED’s, but they most likely are concealed from outside view. Even doorbell cams and live streaming equipment that record at night doesn’t have flashy embellishments. Rather, they’re outfitted with advanced lens and night vision.

Trying to Cheat a Sneaky Criminal Doesn't Pay Off

It can be tempting to opt for a non-functional prop, but this just ends up looking like a cheap device hanging from the front porch or sitting on the side of the house. Plus, most of these decoys are made of fragile materials that can’t hold up to different weather conditions.

Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer, but a thorough look at the pros and cons is necessary. The fact that a family is considering a trick recorder or camera shows that they care about safety. Perhaps that means it’s time to invest a bit in the family’s and property’s protection.


Brad Smith

Editorial Staff

Brad has worked as a sales manager in the security sector for 10 years. He is curious, attentive to details, and hard-working. He has dedicated several years to helping customers with their safety and protection. His background has helped Brad to write comprehensive security and life safety materials, which he has been writing for about 4 years. Brad has contributed work to The Washington Post, DailyJournal, Los Angeles Times, and many others.


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