Do Fake Security Cameras Work?Posted on Friday 17th September 2021
What are Fake Cameras?
Fake, decoy, or dummy security cameras are designed to look like real cameras in appearance, but without the features or functions of a real one. Security cameras are proven to deter criminal activity, so fake or decoy cameras are usually chosen when deterring crime is required at a location, but where there is no budget for an actual CCTV security system.
Fake cameras still require a certain amount of work, in order that people think that they are real. Decoy security cameras are easy to detect as fake – especially to people who know about cameras. A lot of criminals, especially experienced ones, are very knowledgeable in security cameras, so whilst a dummy camera would probably deter some amount of anti-social behaviour or petty vandalism around the area, it may not stop a more serious crime from taking place.
Cheaper - Fake security cameras are cheaper to purchase.
Easy to Install - As they are non-functioning they are usually easier to install (except for when this is at height) usually by fixing to the outside of a building.
In order to pass a fake camera off as a real one, you have to take into account the below points:
Flashing Lights - Fake cameras often have a red flashing LED light which can look convincing to an untrained eye, but which security cameras do not have. Wiring that terminates in an odd location, or no wiring at all, as well as cheaper looking housing, all combine to give the game away to an experienced eye.
Maintenance Still Applies - What is often overlooked when putting up a decoy camera, is that a working CCTV system is required to be kept clean and functioning. Security cameras should be serviced, including cleaning, twice a year. This is to make sure that the images are clear and that the time stamp on the recorder is correct. If an incident does happen and police request evidence, then these images need to be of use to them. Fake cameras are often installed and then forgotten about – left for years to gather dust and spiderwebs – and this is another giveaway that a camera is not a functioning one.
Signage - The ICO - (Information Commissioners Office) requires businesses to put up signs in order to inform people that they may be under surveillance. Fake cameras would likewise also require signage in order to appear “real”. Whilst the use of signs can also be used to deter criminal activity – the lack of these signs is another tell-tale sign that the cameras are fake.
There are still rules for locating fake cameras - Fake cameras still have to be placed in appropriate locations – it is against the law to place a fake camera “overlooking” a place that should remain private, such as staff changing rooms or pointing at a window.
Subject Access Requests (SARs) - Another consideration is that you may get Subject Access Requests from time to time – in the case of a surveillance system, these are usually in the form of people requesting images that may have been taken of them. By installing a decoy camera, you should consider that you will need a response to give people who ask for images of themselves, to tell them formally that the cameras are decoy ones.
In summary - fake cameras can help to deter criminal activity - especially petty acts of vandalism and oppourtunistic thieves - although they are unlikely to deter experienced or determined criminals. There is also more work involved in having a fake camera, if you want to pass it off as functioning, than just installing it. There are many other (and sometimes easier and cheaper) ways of detering criminals - some ideas are below.
So, what is the solution if you don’t have the budget for a CCTV system?
Deter criminals as much as possible – whilst security cameras are proven to be extremely effective in protecting high-value assets, it is by no means the only way of deterring criminals from choosing your property to steal from. Make sure to also have:
Well-positioned lighting will deter trespassers from wandering around your property – just make sure that it’s not also going to be shining into your bedroom window at three in the morning!
Make sure outbuildings are fitted with good quality locks, and that they are always secured at night.
Keep Equipment Out of Sight
Put equipment into lockable buildings wherever possible, or keep out of sight of roads and pathways where it is not possible.
Install Alarms Where Possible
Often having a combined alarm and CCTV system is a cheaper alternative to two separate systems – and this may also lower your insurance quotations.
Look Out for Grants
Keep an eye out for grants that offer discounts on security systems.
Get a Quote
Quotes are free of charge, with no obligation, so it would be wise to get a feel for the kind of budget a CCTV system would be before you dismiss the idea. Discuss your requirements with your CCTV installation company, and be upfront about your level of budget, and see what system the company can offer. A good design of a CCTV system, with well-positioned cameras, or by using one camera that offers multiple functions, may mean that you don’t require as much equipment as you thought.
Start Small and Add On
The way modern CCTV systems work, you can start with a small system and add to it very easily over time.
Ask to Pay in Instalments
Most CCTV installation companies are happy to discuss this, so if you need to spread the installation cost over a few payments, then be upfront about it.