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Remaining Secure While Pinching Pennies with Fake Security Cameras

Updated on July 17, 2009

In today's economy, saving money where we can is what it's all about. Now, I'm all in favor of keeping more in my pocket than I hand out, but there are some sacrifices I'm not prepared to make in order to squeeze a penny. My family's health and safety are top of that list meaning I'm well insured and well protected. Unfortunately, all the good intentions in the world aren't enough to stretch a dime far enough for some of us, but there may be ways to protect the ones you love on the cheap. How? Glad you asked. By installing fake security cameras, that's how!

Mmmm... burglar. Yummy!
Mmmm... burglar. Yummy!

Now before any of you try tracking me down and burglarizing my house because you think my security system is fake, it isn't. Let's get this straight now, I'm dangerous, my dogs are dangerous, my security system is very real (and expensive), I sleep with my gun and it's certainly dangerous and, God help you, my wife is most dangerous of all. Rob me at your peril. Not only do I have a full-scale, professional security system, but personally managed wireless surveillance cameras as well. But if I didn't have all of that at my disposal, I'd still want to at least convey the impression that there's easier pickins down the road.

If you are looking to cut corners by installing a fake security camera or a fake security system of any kind, there are some things you should keep in mind. A box with a lens attached to your wall may not be a deterrent at all to a savvy crook. He'll see right trough your illusion unless you take some steps to make it convincing. So let's talk about how you can sell the illusion to convince the bad guys not to bother you.

Paranoid much?
Paranoid much?

Too Much of a Good Thing is Bad

Your first tip is not to over do it. If you live in a run-down shack, 10 cameras guarding your property sends one of the following messages:

1) Hi! Welcome to my meth lab! (certain to attract the attention of police or gangs who feel you might be moving in on their turf

2) Hi! I'm the real paranoid Unibomber! The guy they caught was just some loon claiming credit for my work! (again, not a message you want to be sending the police or your neighbors)

3) Hi! I'm trying to fool you with 10 fake cameras which you know are fake because if I could afford 10 security cameras, I wouldn't be living in this dump! (totally counter productive)

Along with not placing too many fake security cameras around your property comes similar advice in the fake cameras you chose. There's a surprising variety available out there ranging in appearance from blatantly fake looking cheap to bodies so fancy in appearance that, were they real, only the CIA could afford them. Be reasonable and go for something middle of the road that looks authentic rather than so futuristic it might pack a particle beam weapon.

Hooked up and Lit!

Nothing screams "I'm not real, break in at your leisure" than a camera that lacks any visible power supply. A good fake camera will have a cable coming out of the back that feeds into the mount and appears to go into your home. Absent that, any crook with a couple spare brain cells to rub together will deduce that the camera isn't getting power and isn't feeding its signal anywhere. Next stop, the pawn shop, with all your goodies in tow. So as you shop for a fake camera, skip over any model that doesn't have that feature.

Not entirely critical but a convincing touch is a steady or blinking light. Many quality fake cameras include a blinking LED that runs on batteries. Don't worry, the LED requires very little power so you won't be replacing batteries every week. What you will get is a convincing look that both calls attention to the fact that you have a camera (in case your crook forgot his glasses) and implies that the camera is real and receiving power.

Since you can't stop your neighbors from talking, feed them the secrets you want them to share
Since you can't stop your neighbors from talking, feed them the secrets you want them to share

Finally, add some finishing touches. Your camera will seem more convincing if there are other indicators that your home is professionally monitored by a security service. See if you can purchase signs or window stickers from a legitimate and reputable security company. Even if they require you to allow them to visit to try to sell you on their service before they'll sell you a sign, it's worth it. The visit will be noticed by neighbors and will lend credibility to the illusion you're trying to create. Why convince your neighbors? Excellent question!

Criminals have a great many tools at their disposal but the one that few people ever suspect or prepare for is the trusting nature of neighbors. A casual conversation that seems completely innocent between your neighbor and the really nice door to door salesman she spent 20 minutes chatting with could actually be a fishing trip by a crook casing your neighborhood. Your neighbors can inadvertently and innocently give up a lot of valuable information to a criminal without realizing they're doing it. So play to that weakness in your defenses by having even your neighbors convinced that you are security conscious and believing that a security company actually came by.

If you can't find a security company that will sell you signs and stickers without you also purchasing several hundred dollars of security equipment and signing a contract, try to sell them on the point that you'll be advertising for them by displaying their sign in your yard. If that doesn't work, try having a friend or neighbor who already has a legitimate security service buy some signs for you (offer give them a little extra to make it worth their while). As a last ditch, many fake security cameras include stickers you can put on your window. That's a last resort, though, as an experienced criminal will likely recognize them on sight as not belonging to legitimate company.

And there you have it, folks. Learn from the best illusionists in the world; they'll tell you that the real magic is in the misdirection that makes the trick work. You can protect yourself with fake security cameras. You just have to make sure you're the only one who believes they're fake. Stay safe!

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