It sounds like a great idea: Install a fake security camera that looks like the real thing but doesn't actually work. For an even smaller investment, purchase a counterfeit security service sign that makes it look like your property is protected even if it isn't. In either case, the goal is the same, to use the threat of cameras or alarms to scare away potential intruders or burglars. After all, advertisements for equipment and services use crime deterrence as a selling point. What could go wrong?

Downsides and Risks of Fake Cameras and Signs

It should be obvious that the main drawback of pretend devices is that they do not offer any real protection or evidence beyond the possible discouragement of criminal activity. If they don't trick a would-be robber into avoiding your property, no alarms go off, no motion is detected and no recording of the break-in is documented.

In spite of this lack of protection, the family may feel a false sense of security from using bogus devices. Sometimes people are lulled into thinking the pretend signs or cameras will keep all potential intruders away, and they become lax about locking doors and windows or closing the garage.

Another problem with using counterfeit signs and cameras is that they don't fool everybody. Experienced criminals can spot a dummy camera a long way off, especially if it is a cheap reproduction. Real cameras have extra wires and cables hooked up, and they do not usually have the telltale blinking red light that so many fake cameras sport.

Given continued improvements in the development and prices of technology, any cost savings of using a fake security camera do not make sense. When you compare the price of a decent outdoor dummy camera that withstands weather against a low-end working security camera, you may definitely opt for the real thing. It is possible to buy a working surveillance device in the $50 range online.

When it comes to counterfeit security signs, they generally fall into three categories. Generic signs simply state that the property is protected by surveillance devices. These nonspecific signs are not very effective. The second group of signs uses a made-up company name, such as Real Watch Alarm Service. Intruders casing a house can easily check the internet on their phones to see if such a company exists. The final type of sign replicates an actual security company with its name and logo. These signs are the most effective, but you put yourself at legal risk for making use of a company's name without paying for its services.

When criminals detect a fake security device, they may assume that you have something valuable to protect. They may also feel anger or annoyance that you think you can easily hoodwink them. In either case, you may actually encourage the burglar to choose your home. Criminals network and communicate just like business people, and they often share information about the latest gimmicks on the market.

Positive Alternatives to Fake Security Items

Deterrence is a valid concept. Most human beings take the easiest route, and intruders are no different. If potential burglars detect increased risk or work, they will probably move on. Here are a few low-cost roadblocks beside fake cameras and signs that offer some real protection:

  • Deadbolt locks
  • Smart locks with remote accessibility
  • Motion-detecting lights on the garage and entry doors
  • Timers to turn interior lights on and off when you're gone
  • A dog on the premises

The Best Alternative: Home Security Systems

If you want to combine deterrence, protection and monitoring, it is hard to beat a security service for value and peace of mind. There are many security company choices, and most offer a variety of equipment options and monitoring packages.

1. SimpliSafe Security

Why go with a fake security system when you can get the real deal? SimpliSafe is a favorite among homeowners and renters alike. These wireless systems protect your home and family with door and window sensors, motion detectors, security cameras, video doorbells, and more. SimpliSafe offers easy DIY setup, so you can be up-and-running in minutes with no tools required. The monitoring options are flexible — you can either self-monitor or sign-up for SimpliSafe’s award-winning monitoring service. Either way, you won’t be weighed down by long-term contracts or hidden fees. What you see is what you get with SimpliSafe. It’s a great alternative to fake security systems.

2. ADT Security

Many people choose ADT Home Security because of its large customer base and history of providing 24/7 protection for homes across America. ADT provides professional equipment installation for a fee that begins at $99. The basic monitoring fee at ADT starts at $36.99 a month, and the monthly charge may include security equipment. To receive complete pricing information for your individual property, you should request a visit by an ADT technician to assess your situation and provide a quote and details.

3. Vivint Security

Vivint Security will come directly to your home and provide a free review of your individual security needs. They will give you a detailed price quote for customized equipment costs. Professional technicians provide the equipment installation at a charge that varies with the items needed. Monthly monitoring fees start at $29.99 for the most basic service.

Prices and specials change frequently with each company, so be sure to check the security service website for up-to-date costs. Equipment prices vary depending on the size of the home, the number of doors and windows monitored and optional items selected.

4. Frontpoint Security

Frontpoint Security is a popular option for homeowners who do not want to be bothered with setting up appointments and dealing with technicians for equipment installation. The company ships the security components, which are already programmed for use, directly to the purchaser. Setting up the security system is easy, and Frontpoint furnishes complete instructions and a video to help. For example, you simply peel off the backs of the window and door sensors and stick them in place. Frontpoint Security offers basic equipment packages that begin as low as $69 and up. Do-it-yourself installation eliminates any set-up fees. Monthly monitoring packages begin at $34.99 and up.

Weigh Your Needs, Risks and Budget

In the end, you have to evaluate the risks of your neighborhood and choose the best security strategy you can afford. Your local law enforcement agency may recommend simple measures to help protect your family and property. Call the non-emergency number of the department to see what programs are available and do what you can afford to protect your home.

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