Many times when you walk into a large grocery store or chain department
store you will see rows of security cameras, all of which seem to be pointed
right at you. These security cameras are great to monitor potential thieves,
as well as look for employee and customer misconduct. Some crimes are
caught using simple security cameras inside the 7-11. But a new trend,
“dummy” security cameras, is arising. Is this legal and is
it a good idea?
Business owners looking to save a few bucks might want to install fake
security cameras, making it look like they have state of the art security.
After all, paying for the camera and video storage itself is a huge expense.
So why not create the illusion that customers and cashiers are being watched
by installing fake cameras that way everyone behaves? Dummy cameras are
actually being shown to not reduce crime, and can actually open up businesses
to legal liability suits.
False Sense of Security
The problem with fake cameras is that they do not single out certain sketchy
individuals to trick–everyone, from security guards who are unaware
to the average consumer to a would-be thief will be tricked by these cameras
if they believe them to be real. So, if a customer or staff member is
attacked or the victim of a crime on your property they may be able to
argue that by having a “secured” dummy camera they felt safer
and let their guard down under the impression that they would be able
to get help. If they are not able to obtain evidence or gain assistance
due to a false camera, you may be liable in court as a property owner
Fake Cameras May Still Be Prohibited in Some Areas
It is common knowledge that bathrooms and changing rooms are off limits
when it comes to installing security cameras, whether in a public or private
establishment. But sometimes it may seem like this is where the majority
of the crime happens–in changing rooms that are unattended or bathrooms
where merchandise is snuck in. Why not install dummy cameras in bathrooms
to deter crimes such as
theft and vandalism.
A Florida middle school principal thought this same thing and installed
dummy security cameras in the bathrooms at the school to prevent graffiti
artists for destroying the property. However, when parents learned of
the cameras they were outraged, even if the cameras were fake. The American
Civil Liberties Union considered filing a suit against the school unless
the cameras were removed, so don’t think that just because they
say “fake” they will be seen as positive. Because of the dangers
associated with “fake” cameras, such as unscrupulous owners
actually using real cameras and claiming they are fake, it is impossible
to assure customers that they are not being watched while also scaring
When it comes to fake cameras, the quick-install and cheap price may be
tempting. Using dummy cameras in prohibited areas or in lieu of working
video surveillance, however, might end up making you the true dummy. If
you have questions about video surveillance or how to properly secure
your business, call our office today.