Shocking news: fake cameras did not prevent car break-ins at popular tourist spot

Originally published at: Shocking news: fake cameras did not prevent car break-ins at popular tourist spot | Boing Boing


Security cameras are worthless.

These guys just spent six hours driving away $1m of cars while covered by real cameras


We have a lot of petty thefts in my neighborhood, which has prompted a few of my neighbors to install doorbell cameras or other security cameras.

It doesn’t seem to have stopped any thefts, but now my neighbors have some lovely footage of their propane tank being stolen that they can enjoy.


I mean, real cameras wouldn’t have done shit, either. “We have the footage and… yep, that’s definitely someone breaking into your car! Have a nice day.”


My neighbors have caught two thieves using door cams. Not instantly, but arrests were made. My camera caught a large & aggressive dog killing another smaller dog (and nearly harming the other owner). Large dog is no longer here.

So, they do work - just not to the panacea level we’re led to believe.


So someone spent the dollars to buy and then install fake video cameras. Then they spent more money to have some worker take them back down. Where do you think they went - into the trash? To some other property to see if they help there? Wow.

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Love the sic quote from the police that dances around whether they were notified via an inaudible alarm:

“The offenders’ ability to disable to audible alarm was definitely a facilitating factor to them being able to take 14 cars and having the time to do so,” said Cmdr. Ryan Glew

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I agree. They arent perfect but they provide some deterence and can help with identifying people after the fact.

My logic to having a couple outdoor security cameras around my house

  1. If someone steals something at the very least I have evidence of the theft (insurance claims etc) and a nice last picture of my possession to remember it by :wink:

  2. There are various interviews around the internet that suggest that at least some thieves look for the easier target if they see cameras. I made sure my outdoor nest cameras are sufficiently conspicuous. Sorry neighbours…

  3. I actually get an alert if someone is in my lot with a picture. Usually its a delivery (nice to know that something showed up) but sometimes its someone stealing all my christmas decorations… Even if the cops cant catch the person at my house their presence could protect a neighbours items.

  4. In the unlikely scenario of an aggressive person threating me I would have video and audio. (Too unlikely to be a sole reason to buy cameras).

  5. Entertainment. One time a bunch of kids were standing near the front door late one halloween daring eachother to knock. (really lacking subtlety). I yelled “get off my lawn” in my best curmudgeon voice through the speaker and enjoyed the show as they scrambled and fell over eachother trying to get away :wink: Another time I discovered a family of coyotes were enjoying my deck in the evenings.

I do not expect that my cameras will keep someone from walking away with my bbq
one day but I hope it will reduce the number of replacement bbqs I eventually need.


Some time ago (decades ago) I remember seeing a local advertisement for fake security cameras here in the UK. My thought process went like this:

  1. Anyone who buys these cameras is making it known they have something valuable.
  2. Anyone who buys these cameras is not protecting their valuables properly.
  3. Anyone who buys these cameras is going to get robbed soon.
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Maybe don’t use ELP mode on the VCR ?


That requires: that you can identify the thief from the footage, either because they’re a neighbor or the cops arrest them for another crime that’s close enough they can make the connection, and that the police even respond to thefts in the first place, which, where I am, the cops don’t. Poor quality general surveillance footage of a parking lot at a tourist spot (i.e. the thieves aren’t immediate locals) is pretty much worthless, in terms of arresting people after the fact. Which is why fake cameras, even if the thieves thought they were real, were worthless. In fact, if anything they were probably worse than useless, as it gave a false sense of security to people who left things in their cars…

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I don’t know how large an area this is but maybe some fake police cars parked in a couple locations (or this might sound crazy but perhaps even some real ones) might actually make a thief think twice.

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Might help with insurance?

Matches mine when we put in cameras (One doorbell and one blink) at my mother’s (86) place. She lives alone and while it’s not a dangerous place, she likes that she – and I, even more remotely – can look at who’s at the door. Since there are signs and there’s no public space monitored and the stuff’s pretty visible, it should at least deter con artists.

Burglars not so much, of course.

I wonder if installing also a monitor would help even more. “Hey, suspicious person. This is what we’ll have on file.”


image: fake cameras at the museum of Bad Art…

Talk about burying the lead!

Most recently in Somerville, MA but clearly in need of BB patronage to reopen.

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can we buy inflatable fake police cars :oncoming_police_car: :oncoming_police_car: :oncoming_police_car:

Cameras are only half the battle. Then you have to get police to do anything.

My friends down the street had a big porch pirate problem so they put in a camera. They caught a very clear picture of the guy’s face in the act. Police said there was nothing they could do. :woman_shrugging:

So my friends printed out the picture, and put it on a sign on their lawn with the caption, “This man is a thief. If you see him, call the police”. They also installed a drop box for packages and one or both of those things fixed the problem. But thanks for nothing, local PD. :roll_eyes:


Oof- I just watched the video. One of the thieves is wearing an I Can’t Breathe hoodie. The right wing echo chamber is gonna have a field day with that one. :neutral_face:

I assume the drop box, especially if it’s lockable. Opportunistic thieves do not like delays or obstacles. It’s hit/grab and run crime, not well planned heists.

Re video footage in some cities (like mine) there are often a small group of highly recurrent offenders. In those cases the local police like the video evidence and it has worked. However a one off person they haven’t seen before certainly isnt getting an in depth investigation over a missing package.

I’m a fan of the drop box idea. We also added a storage bin by our front door. It doesn’t lock but we figured it makes it less obvious that a large pile of packages are there. Security through minor inconveniences and deterence seems remarkably effective.

I accept that nothing will stop a determined thief who wants something. The best I can do is make it just a little less convenient.