The 10 Best Dummy Security Cameras
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in October of 2016. One of the best ways to secure your house or business without the expense of a home-monitoring or surveillance system is by installing one or more of these dummy security cameras. Offering a convincing facsimile of the real thing, they should deter most would-be thieves and intruders. Many of our options include details like flashing LEDs and fake wires that can even fool experienced criminals. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
October 27, 2020:
With this update we've added the Wali SD-4 and the BNT Home, two popular options based on very different styles. The BNT home looks like an older, more traditional security camera, with a white cylindrical casing, though the lack of a wire sets it apart from other models like this. The Wali SD-4 adopts the more modern dome design, which has the advantage of obscuring the direction in which the camera is facing.
November 22, 2019:
One of the primary user complaints with dummy cameras is that you have to take them down to replace the batteries; however, even though most models on this list have a flashing red light, most real security cameras no longer have an indicator light when recording. Leaving the batteries out and forgoing the flashing light takes care of a lot of problems.
If your primary concern is professional criminals then you'd definitely not want to use the light, but if your primary concern is shoplifting or pranking teens, the flashing light might be more convincing to an amateur.
The Zosi 2 Pack is extra convincing, as it's made by the same brand that produces real security cameras, so thieves who know brand names are more likely to be fooled. If they look that closely, they'll also see that the unit has an aluminum casing just like the genuine version. If you think potential burglars will be looking that closely, you'll probably want to leave the red flashing light off.
When To Use Dummy Security Cameras
Although dummy cameras won’t provide you with any help in the event of a crime, if used properly, they may help deter criminals in certain situations.
A dummy security camera is a fake, non-functioning camera that’s designed to look like those security cameras that are part of closed-circuit television systems. Whereas real cameras monitor and record for security purposes, dummy cameras only provide an illusion. There are many reasons that people opt for a dummy security camera instead of the real thing, but the biggest is financial: Dummy cameras are much more affordable than their functioning counterparts. Although dummy cameras won’t provide you with any help in the event of a crime, if used properly, they may help deter criminals in certain situations.
For example, business owners often mix dummy cameras in with real cameras, especially in retail environments. They position the real cameras over the most crucial areas, such as the cash register and front door, then place the dummy security cameras in less vulnerable areas, like a break room. In this way they can make their security budget cover more ground, so to speak, as customers and workers assume that all of the cameras are capturing their activity.
In much the same fashion, homeowners sometimes place dummy security cameras in less-accessible areas while putting the real thing near places that are susceptible to break-ins, including the front and back doors. There are also homeowners who have residential alarms that rely on dummy cameras as a deterrent; they know that if someone does break in, the alarm will notify the authorities. And, of course, some homeowners may have neither CCTV system nor alarm and so may rely solely on dummy cameras to scare off would-be intruders.
Of course, you don’t have to own a house to get use from a dummy security camera. You might place one above your apartment door or even inside your living space. If you have people coming in and out of your home often, perhaps babysitters or repair persons, you might use a dummy model to prevent them from snooping around your bedroom or closet.
While these are all great uses for a dummy security camera, if you have a situation that truly requires heightened security, you might want to spring for a real security camera. For instance, if you have a stalker or you routinely keep large sums of money in your home (for any reason, we don’t judge), then the real thing will help ensure that you have evidence should anything unfortunate happen.
Tips For Choosing A Dummy Security Camera
When you think about it, a dummy security camera is a kind of a lie, so like a lie, it had better be convincing if anyone is going to believe it — especially since experienced criminals (and some casual observers) can spot fakes from a mile away. Fortunately, though, it’s easy to avoid this pitfall, since manufacturers today are sensitive to trends and realities in the world of security cameras.
Finally, some dummy security cameras are motion-activated; when someone walks by, the camera will begin to swivel.
One way dummy cameras mimic the real thing is by having visible wires, unless they’re of the dome type. A camera that’s missing this small detail looks obviously fake, so when you’re deciding which dummy camera to buy, make sure that it looks like it connects to something.
Another way dummy cameras seem authentic is through the use of LEDs. Be cautious, however, that the LED isn’t too bright and obvious, as most real security cameras don’t announce their presence in such a fashion. Instead, you want a low-profile monitoring light that is realistic without being over-the-top.
Additionally, dummy cameras that resemble actual models on the market, down to the lenses and materials, will be the most effective, since they’re harder to discern from the real thing. And if they have markings, they should be discrete. A big, fake brand name is often not effective, because the dedicated criminal can search the internet and see that the camera is a dummy.
Finally, some dummy security cameras are motion-activated; when someone walks by, the camera will begin to swivel. Most of these don’t actually track the movements of an individual, though, so a truly savvy criminal may be aware that the unit is fake. On the other hand, it’s likely that petty thieves and those who engage in crimes of opportunity will be scared off by such a feature.
The Behavior Of Being Watched
The verdict on whether visible surveillance cameras deter crime is still out; various studies have both supported and disproven the idea that people refrain from criminal activities if they feel they’re being watched. Some suggest that surveillance systems merely displace crimes, while others maintain that cameras and neighborhood watch programs have shown encouraging results. While both sides make convincing arguments, two principles of human behavior seem to suggest that surveillance does indeed have a useful behavior-modifying effect.
Another principle relates to gaze detection, a system in the brain that helps you determine when someone is looking at you, even if you aren’t looking at them.
One of these is called the Hawthorne effect, which takes its name from a study conducted in the first half of the 20th century. Researchers set out to determine how working conditions affected productivity, but their results indicated that no matter how they changed the conditions, for better or for worse, productivity increased. Eventually, this data led to the idea that the subjects were ultimately reacting to the observers, not the conditions. In broad terms, then, the Hawthorne effect describes the way that the act of being observed causes people to modify their behaviors. It’s possible that a dummy security camera, which gives the illusion that someone is watching, may trigger this behavioral modification.
Another principle relates to gaze detection, a system in the brain that helps you determine when someone is looking at you, even if you aren’t looking at them. You’ve probably noticed this, in fact — have you ever just felt that someone was staring at you? That was the gaze detection system at work, which evolved to subconsciously pick up the focus and body positioning of those around you so that you can react to a threat, if need be. While this facility is for detecting human watchers, not cameras, there’s evidence to suggest that signs with pictures of eyes and staring faces subconsciously draw attention. In conjunction with dummy security cameras, these signs may have a strong ability to alter behavior for the better.