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Dummy CCTV Camera - Your Security and What to Know Before You Buy Real or Fake Equipment

Updated on November 20, 2010

If you are looking to set up a complete home or office security system then the use of dummy cctv cameras may not be the best solution for you. However for a number of reasons financial and otherwise the use of fake cameras is certainly a viable option to deter prospective intruders and shoplifters. This article will look at the major reasons why people would choose to buy a fake camera along with some important considerations when choosing between them.

Why Not Choose The Real Thing?

The number one reason why people buy fakes comes down to money. Dummy CCTV cameras represent a significant savings in every aspect of the security system. The installation cost are considerably lower as the cameras do not require any real set up or linking to a transmission or recording device. There is no need to buy any recording equipment in the first place and it has the added ongoing benefit of being very easy and cheap to maintain.

There are of course some key point to consider even if you are buying a fake. Although you are doing this to save money you should invest in some more time into getting the right dummy cameras. These will prevent you from spending more to replace because they look obviously fake and also provide you with the flexibility to upgrade your security system down the line without having to drill through the walls again.

Dummy CCTV Camera
Dummy CCTV Camera

How to Choose a Fake

If you are seriously considering using a fake CCTV camera it is important to take the time and do your research with regards to the real thing. By doing your due diligence here will ensure that you choose the appropriate camera for your situation.  The reason this is so important beyond the fact you are trying to save some money is that the very burglars, intruders and shoplifters that you are trying to deter have a good understanding of security systems. They will be the litmus test for your fakes.

Before you buy, consider where you are going to place your cameras. This is going to help you identify the common types of real security cameras that are used in these situations. Things to take into account are the size of the camera, its features (zoom, rotate, night vision etc) and where will it be installed.  If you are adding to your security system of real cameras then it makes sense to try to find an exact match for the fakes.

Buy Cheap, Get Cheap

The old adage of you get what you pay for is definitely applicable in the case of dummy cctv cameras. The cheapest version could be something that you make yourself. In this case you may read some people suggesting that you install them well out of reach however this may negate the effect of having the camera as a visual deterrent.  A good fake, like the real thing should be placed far enough out of reach not to be tampered with, but close enough (or the camera large enough) to identify some rough details.   A good dummy camera will retail for around $50.

Fake Camera, Real Parts

The better dummy cameras will make use of actual cctv camera housings. Although this makes them slightly more expensive, the better fakes represent great value for a number of reasons. Firstly the real housing looks much more convincing, ironically because they are not fake; Secondly the proper housings will require much less maintenance in the long run. If you are using a dummy camera outdoors for example the weather conditions can vary significantly thus the right housing will last much longer. Finally a proper cctv camera housing will give you the option to install a real camera. This is particularly significant as you may want to upgrade your security when you have more resources and half the installation work will have been done for you; there is also the residual benefit of people never knowing you had fakes in the first place.

A top of the range dummy will be a 1:1 replica of the real thing. These cameras not only come a proper housing but they will in fact contain an actual camera body, visible lens, cabling and the integrated mounting bracket. These types are typical in government applications where they have been known to fool the public. A case in Singapore was reported where a member of the public requested security footage for a block of apartments to later be told that the camera was only a shell.

The Little Red Light

Of the misconceptions regarding fake and dummy cameras perhaps none is more prevalent that there should be the flashing of a little red light. Perhaps this stems from peoples experience recording home movies on their handy cam but the real security cameras very rarely have such a light. In fact the presence of such a light is a telltale sign to thieves and intruders that it is likely a fake. As such many manufactures of dummy cameras won’t have this as an option.

Getting The Most Out of Your Fakes

Learning how to best use your dummy camera will be important in its success as a deterrent. Now that you know how to choose the right camera for your environment there are a few other steps that we can take to maximise placebo effect of using dummies.

If you have existing cameras make sure that they are pointing at the most significant locations of the area you are securing, the dummy camera will serve to supplement the real cameras in another part of the premises or from another angle.

The law in some areas will dictate that you must inform people that you have surveillance installed. Again thieves etc will be aware of this regulation so if you are putting up fake cameras then take the time to put up the real signage to avoid any suspicion.

Consider using real equipment to maximise the effect. Again if you have real cameras you can set up the viewing monitor in such a way that others can see the working cameras. This is similar to what you might see in a convenience store or a guard post. Making the system more visible goes a long way to making it more effective. Your fake cameras may also benefit from any alarm monitoring services that you have signed up for.

The main idea when it comes to almost all types of security is quite simple. You don’t need to have the best or the most expensive system available, you just need to be (or appear to be) a slightly more difficult target for the intruder. In the case of the dummy cctv camera, a fake deterrent is much better than none at all. Just be sure you don’t let the world know that you are faking it.

A Good Dummy CCTV camera (except for the blinking light)


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    • Knowledge Ninja profile image

      Knowledge Ninja 7 years ago

      Thats exactly what they want you to think :)

      thanks for the feedback

    • ldparker10 profile image

      ldparker10 7 years ago

      very interesting hub. i never knew people used fake cctv cameras!!!