Are Fake Security Cameras Worth Buying?

Keeping your home or business secure can put a real dent in your pocket. Purchasing equipment, paying for installation fees and monthly upkeep might not be in everyone’s budget. Worrying about how much home security can cost is why some homeowners decide to install fake security cameras to deter the burglars. After all, fake cameras still give off the appearance that you have a way to catch the bad guys in the act. But is saving a few bucks worth it in the end? Let’s look at the pros and cons of having fake security cameras in your home.

Why buying a fake security camera might be worth it

  • Fake cameras are cost effective. Real security cameras can be expensive. Even after you buy one, you may end up having to pay a professional to install it. With a fake camera, you get the appearance of a secured home at a fraction of the price tag.
  • Fake cameras are simple to install. No actual recording means you don’t have to install the camera. No wires means not having to pay anyone to install or monitor the camera.
  • Thieves may be deterred by the presence of any camera. It’s possible a burglar could spot what appears to be a real camera and move on to another house. Officer James Banta, Security Nerd expert and a former investigator with the Biloxi Police Department, says thieves are more apprehensive when a camera appears to be recording. “If it actually has a plug-in with a real LED light and people see that, they don’t really know if it’s fake or not,” he said.

Reasons to avoid installing fake security cameras

The whole point of having a real security camera is to be able to provide proof to the police so that they can try and track down the person who stole your belongings. With fake cameras, it’s clear you won’t have that advantage. But there are other reasons to just say no to a dummy camera on your property.

  • Criminals are onto your dummy camera. Believe it or not, an experienced criminal can usually spot fake cameras from a mile away. Many have blinking red lights, which is a dead giveaway for more experienced thieves. Now, the burglar not only knows you have a fake camera, but he also probably thinks you’ve skimped on security for the rest of your house, too.
  • You could face some legal trouble. It’s important to know your state and local privacy laws even when installing a dummy camera. You will have to follow those laws even if the camera you install is fake. This might mean avoiding installation where the camera appears it overlooks private property. Banta says homeowners should use common sense when installing dummy cameras. “You don’t want to install a camera facing your neighbor’s window, for example,” Banta said.

Better alternatives to installing fake cameras for security

While you may be on a tight budget, it’s probably just not worth it to install a fake camera. Here are other options that will ensure your home stays safe.

  • Buy a real security camera. Just because an actual security camera costs more than a dummy camera doesn’t mean you have to break the bank in order to keep your home secure. In fact, there are some quality cameras on the market for under $100 that will get the job done. The tradeoff with this option is that you have to install them yourself. This is a cost-effective measure that will still ensure that your home is being properly surveilled. Some of these models even hook up to a cell phone using an app, so you can watch your house in real-time while at work. (Let’s be honest, it’s fun to keep an eye on your dog at home, too.)
  • Invest in a security system. Sure, the whole reason you were thinking about a dummy camera was for the cost savings. However, think about how much money it will cost if your house is broken into. If high-dollar items are taken, you won’t have any footage that the police can use to help find the thieves. Dropping some cash on a professional system will ensure you’ll have something to turn over to police if your home is broken into. And, if you’re lucky, the sound of the alarm going off will scare the thieves away before they get their hands on anything. Look at this expense as an insurance policy for all your belongings. Additionally, many home insurance policies offer a financial break for homeowners who install a security system. Above all else, this option will give you extra assurance that your family will be safe.
  • Set up motion detectors. If you don’t want to go all in with a monitored security system, motion sensors can also be a deterrent for thieves. Motion sensor lights outside can spook an unwelcome guest and make them think twice about breaking in. Installing sensors in your home that beep when someone enters is another option. The sound alone will send most thieves running.
  • Get an old-fashioned furry security guard. Your pup might be a great snuggler, but if someone is trying to get in the house, his bark will be enough to scare off most would-be burglars. Bad guys actually try to avoid dogs because not only can they bite, but a barking dog will bring attention from neighbors. Thieves certainly don’t want that attention!

Related: Check out our picks for the best security cameras

Your budget might only be able to stretch so far, but there are plenty of cheap ways to keep your house safe without going the fake security camera route. Fake cameras will give you a false sense of security and won’t be any help in the event of a real break-in. Don’t spend your time and money on something that probably won’t keep thieves away.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.

Officer James Banta

Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.