Is a dummy camera really worth it? Should you install a real or fake CCTV system on your compound? How can I tell if my home security camera is real? Well, to be fair, a dummy camera might be better than not having any security camera. However, it’s not something to expect much from or rest your hopes up.
As the name suggests, a fake security camera is an imitation CCTV that you can use on your property in place of the real ones. Just like a scarecrow on the farm, these cameras will help instill the presence of surveillance equipment and scare away unsuspecting burglars.
In the same way scarecrows don’t work on every animal, however, fake security cameras may not work in all cases. Motivated (or professional if we may use the word) burglars will know how to spot a fake security camera from the glance of it. So, it’s real important if you can distinguish the authentic from the fake. Otherwise, you’ll end up installing the wrong piece of equipment in a high-value location without knowing.
Do Dummy Security Cameras Truly Work?
As mentioned, fake security cameras are not that bad to have. In some cases, they can actually work, especially on opportunistic burglars who just happen to burgle by chance.
Take for instance a random person who happened to pass by your street and saw a package that was left by your door. If you have a real outdoor security camera with remote viewing, you could know of the item and ask your neighbor to pick it up for you. Also, if you have a dummy camera overlooking the front door, the opportunistic burglar may have some doubts and decide to walk away.
However, if you have neither the decoy nor the real CCTV system, this person will have no second thought but take your package.
Other benefits of a fake camera that we can say include:
One of the reasons people love a fake security camera is because they’re cheap. For instance, you can get an Armo FBA_FC-300 Fake Bullet Camera or Wali DOW-1Decoy Dome Camera for less than twenty dollars. To some, this is quite a fair slice, considering a professionally-installed security camera system can use hundreds of dollars.
Still on the cost, fake cameras don’t have monthly fees for cloud storage or maintenance attached to them.
- Easy to Install
Usually, a wired security camera system with a DVR or NVR is the best option when you need to monitor a large property. With the recorder, you can connect as many as 32 or 64 cameras that you can position at different angles of the compound.
On the negative side, however, it takes a lot of time and effort to get the video cables from the recorder to the individual cameras. In some cases, you might need to drill through walls and even dig up the ground if you want to hide the wires.
But with a decoy camera, there’s only an illusion of camera cables, which can take you five minutes to screw into position. You won’t need to drill the walls or continually check if it’s working properly. After all, it’s not doing anything, other than playing with the mind of the culprits.
- Is A Fake Security Camera Legal?
We all know security cameras can be legal or illegal in various situations, but what goes about the fake ones?
Surprisingly, the same laws that govern installing of a real CCTV system apply to the fake models. So, even when it’s a dummy, by law you’re not supposed to have the camera directed towards your neighbor’s window or private rooms like a bathroom.
Nonetheless, a dummy camera can have one extra legal issue not with real CCTV: a false sense of security. It mostly works for business owners but homeowners are not immune either.
Under a false sense of security, a business or household owner could risk getting into legal trouble in the event of a crime event. For instance, let’s say your employee or customer’s property, like a car, is stolen right where you have your fake camera. After learning the camera is a decoy, he might change the narrative and claim he would have acted differently had he known earlier.
It’s the United States, you know, and our lawyers can say anything to win a case. A good example is from a New York-based lawyer, Ken Kirschenbaum, who claims that a landlord can suffer the consequences of liability if a tenant gets injured in a laundry room “monitored” with fake cameras.
According to Ken, an owner ought to install dummy equipment and specify as such in the contract or a disclaimer notice. But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of the system?
Dangers Of Using Fake Security Cameras
One of the dangers of a fake security camera is what we’ve just discussed above, legal risks. That’s the laws and regulations that govern all CCTV systems, plus the second one on the false sense of security.
But again, that’s not the only risk to installing a decoy security camera system.
- Fake Cameras Are Non-Functional:
That’s right. Despite looking like real security cameras, dummy CCTV systems are nothing else than for show. The blinking light doesn’t work, lens doesn’t capture any footage, motion sensor detects nothing at all, and the wires don’t go anywhere.
Therefore, how will you fill the police report when asked what the camera in your backyard recorded?
- Dummy Cameras Give A False Sense Of Security
Despite the staunch marketing by the manufacturers, a dummy camera is not something to feel confident having around. With the internet, everyone now can learn anything easily and fast. The way you’re rested reading on how to spot a fake security camera, an evil mind is doing the same somewhere. So, don’t smile and feel safe since you have fake security camera/s around your home or business.
- Some Dummy Cameras Are A Total Rip Off
A while back when we had limited CCTV providers and little knowledge about them, you could end up buying a dummy up to $100. Some companies still offer hefty price tags, but in most cases, they convince the unsuspecting consumers the fake camera is real. If you’re new to the field and have little information, you definitely might end up paying, only to realize the sham after installing.
How can I spot a Fake Security Camera?
There are several ways you can use it to properly identify a dummy security camera. The five easiest of all include:
- A Cheap Construction
If you have ever come across a True JBL speaker, you can easily tell a fake one from its cheap look. Well, the same applies to security cameras, in which case you’ll notice the flimsy plastic from the look of it. You’ll also feel the device strangely light since the manufacturer took shortcuts and didn’t include the real components. Instead of the standard waterproof aluminum, the housing will be some light plastic that breaks in the slightest mishandling.
- The Branding
In many cases, fake manufacturers will have to take a name synonymous with real security cameras brand, especially the well-known ones. So, inspecting the camera brand carefully can be an easy give-away. If in doubt, you can just type the particular name on Google and it’ll reveal if it’s real or fake.
But again, some security cameras may not carry a brand name if the manufacturer wants to hide their identity. This is something Genuine companies won’t do as they’re proud of their products and want to market them. So, if the camera has no name attached, it’s likely fake.
- The LED Light
Overall, this is the easiest way to tell if your boss has installed fake security cameras on his property. The LED lights, supposedly for infrared night vision, will appear brighter, something a genuine maker knows will cause glare issues and blurry images.
Also, if the LED light is flashing during the day when supposed to be asleep, the security camera is no doubt a decoy.
- The Wires
Now that we have battery-powered security cameras, cabling is not an effective way to identify fake models. However, you can easily tell the wires are unauthentic if they’re thinner than normal. The original analog and PoE security cameras usually have a thick wire like Ethernet for the internet.
The other day, we mentioned how to tell if a security camera is recording by determining if it’s fake or real. So, another great way to tell a decoy security camera is by checking if it’s recording or not.
People, including fraudsters, are brainy nowadays, you know. While working with a security camera with Memory card support, we’ve come across one or two cards that are supposedly 128GB but only accommodate like 8-hour long videos. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a security camera with everything else right but doesn’t record.
- Fake Security Camera: Is it Really Worth It
If the intent is to heighten security measures, a fake security camera is not worth the cost and time, even when convinced otherwise. Just like the scarecrows are to birds (small animals), a decoy camera will only be effective for petty thieves. These are the opportunistic burglars we said just happened to find your hotel room with no one, or otherwise steals with a chance.
If you truly need to protect your loved ones from all types of burglary, therefore, a real security camera is a perfect choice. And luckily, there are many CCTV models out there, with some like Wyze Cam Full HD and ZEEPORTE Outdoor Camera going for $25 to $50.
If not that, there are motion sensor security lights that look like a CCTV system you can get. That way, you’ll have a better active deterrence for the nighttime hours and during the day, plus the added lighting benefits.