Q: What about using “dummy” cameras instead of working cameras to save money? Can we put some of those up to make people think we have a larger coverage area?
A: Although the installation of dummy cameras can be a tempting way to save money for a business owner, we tend to advise against it. By installing dummy cameras, a business or property owner risks creating a “false sense of security.” It’s sort of the equivalent of having a guard dog stuffed by a taxidermist and positioned at your back door. The best way to look at this is to understand that cameras have two expectations: that they are monitored in real-time so that an incident can be stopped or minimized, and that the cameras are being recorded, so that they can provide identification and be introduced as evidence. Since dummy cameras are neither monitored nor recorded, you may, at the very least, be opening yourself up for lawsuits. If you’re considering installing dummy cameras, it would be a good idea to consult with your legal counsel first.
You also need to keep in mind that a dummy camera may deter an occasional thief from committing a crime, but seasoned and experienced burglars, the ones that can do the real damage, can spot a fake camera a mile away. This is primarily due to the fact that many dummy cameras come with an advertised “feature” where there is a blinking red light on the housing. Ironically though, this actually only serves to help the more experienced and knowledgeable criminals spot them more easily. Very few “real” cameras, especially analog ones, on the market have any sort of blinking lights with the exception of IP cameras, which may have blinking lights similar to the ones on a network switch.
Any sort of camera, including fake ones, can provide some level of deterrence, but when you weigh all the pros and cons of installing dummy cameras, it’s simply not worth it. If your security needs are such that you’re considering installing a video system, spend the time and money necessary to do it right. Installing dummy cameras may save you a few bucks in the short-term, but in the long-run, they could cost you much, much more.