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Dummy Cameras vs. Real CCTV Cameras
CCTV cameras seem to be everywhere now, and in some situations they have become essential tools in the fight against crime. However, it is an expensive technology. When it comes to protecting our homes or business, a careful assessment of the risks is required to identify whether the investment is worthwhile. In many situations, dummy CCTV cameras can be a highly effective deterrent to criminals - yet for a fraction of the cost of live surveillance systems.
So what kind of premises are dummy cameras suited to? Essentially they can work as a deterrent internally or externally in any commercial, public or residential setting. They can be used to prevent intrusions, or to deter people from criminal activity while on the premises (e.g shoplifters). The level of risk and threat will determine whether they offer sufficient protection. For businesses that stock high value goods for example, or that are subject to high frequency crime (such as petrol stations), investment in live CCTV is the sensible option. For many types of property however this expense is not justified and dummy cameras can provide the appropriate level of protection in combination with other measures. Opportunistic criminals (who account for the vast majority of crime) won’t strike if they think there is a chance they will be caught on camera - they simply move on to less well protected opportunities.
Care should be taken in choosing dummy cameras. There are some cheap models on the market that are easily recognisable as fakes to the more experienced crooks. However a dummy that uses the actual external casing (usually referred to as the ‘housing’) from a working camera can be indistinguishable from the real thing. Getting the type of camera right is also important. There are different styles of real cameras for indoor and outdoor use, and these versions are mirrored in the dummy market. A dummy camera’s effectiveness is enhanced when used with clearly visible, professionally produced warning signs. A shoplifter, for example, may even be deterred from entering a shop if a CCTV protection warning is seen from the outside. Many dummy cameras also have a flashing battery operated LED light function that helps attract the eye to the camera which enhances the crooks concern to the presence of a camera.
Prices for an internal dummy camera with an authentic housing range from about £20 to £35. Replicas are available for the standard rectangular shaped cameras, and the dome models (which have the advantage that it is hard to tell which direction the ‘camera’ is pointing). A dummy camera for external use can cost between £30 and £100. At the top end of this price range are replicas of the large cameras (nearly 40cm in length) often used in car parks or industrial locations. A dummy camera for external use needs to be weatherproof and rust resistant.
The savings gained by using dummy rather than real CCTV cameras will be hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands for large premises. It is not just the initial outlay that is cheaper; live systems need maintaining and the film footage needs storing. Of course it doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Some businesses successfully combine the use of live cameras for the areas most at risk of criminal activity, with dummy cameras used for less sensitive areas.
Failure to invest in preventative security is as good as inviting criminals on to your premises. The more visible the precautions, the more likely they are to succeed - and that is what makes dummy cameras one of the most cost-effective ways to protect your property.