Are Fake Burglar Alarms Any Good?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 05/13/19 •  14 min read
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Home security systems can be expensive, which is the main reason that people try to fool burglars by using a variety of methods to prevent them from trying to burglarize them.

85% of those who break into homes are amateurs and are easily intimidated by fake burglar alarms.

83% of burglars admit that they check to see if there is an alarm system.

60% of would-be burglars, choose not to break into a home because they were convinced that there is a home security system.

We are going to look at some good and some bad fake security components that you can utilize in an attempt to prevent burglars from breaking and entering your home.  We are also going to address the question as to whether or not these methods work in warding off potential burglars.

Fake Security Equipment

There are pros and cons in using fake security equipment in an attempt to fool potential burglars.  Below are several items that you can use to try to convince the burglar to move onto the next house, some are convincing, while others may in fact invite burglars to rob your house.

Fake Security Cameras
Most burglars are going to spot a fake camera every time.  A fake security camera is only going to fool an ammeter.  Professional burglars, (or those who have burglarized more than just a few times), will easily be able to spot a fake security camera. Outside of teenagers and the druggy who wants steel from you to get his next fix, you probably are not going to fool anyone, especially if it has a red blinking light on it.

Nearly all real security cameras do not have red blinking lights on them.  You will only find security cameras like that in the movies.  In fact, by placing a security camera with a red blinking light on it, you are in effect, announcing to professional burglars that you only have a fake security camera.  It’s almost like an invitation to rob you because it tells the professional burglar that you probably do not have a real security system enabled in the house.

Fake TV’s
Most burglars will drive by the house (or walk by it), to “case” the house, before burglarizing it.  If they were to see the effects of a TV shine through the window of your house, you will probably convince them that you are home watching television.

If there ever was a way to convince a burglar that you are home watching TV, other than ensuring that your car is in the driveway, a fake TV just might do the job.  It’s convincing because this small box simulates the light of a 40 inch LCD HDTV.

It’s not a TV, but for about $40, you can make it look like you have a big screen TV by pointing the fake  2 3/4″ x 3″ TV at a translucent window shade from within a bedroom in your house.  It’s literally the size of your hand, and does a great job making people believe you are home.

Fake Dog
You could purchase a fake dog.  I’m not talking about one of those life-size painted statue-dogs that you place in your front yard.  I’m talking about something that delivers more fear.  A ferocious loud barking dog that sounds like it can’t wait to be released to attack.

This works by placing a motion sensor in your yard.  As soon as this invisible motion sensor is triggered, a loud-speaker from inside your home of your blood-thirsty crazed dog will start barking.  If you get a fancy motion detector, you can put a delay on that motion detector which will turn on some lights in the house after hearing the dog bark for a few seconds.

If a “fake dog” effective?  It will scare the crap out of you.  More importantly, it will scare the crap out of any burglar that triggers that motion detector.  Just make sure that the barking dog sound loop is long enough.  You don’t want it to sound like a pattern of barking, as that will be a dead give-away that it’s a fake. Is this effective?  You better believe it.  You can purchase a fake dog from Amazon by clicking here.

A Fake Security Guard
The fake security guard might say something like, “STOP! The Authorities are being notified, and the Police are on their way!”  Again, this might scare off a newby-burglar, but an experienced burglar is just going to laugh at this.  I mean, who really talks like this?

It’s not really meant to try to make them think that there really is a security guard yelling at them, but it is meant to convince them that the Police are on their way. Much like the fake dog, a fake security guard, (and I can’t over emphasize how fake this sounds), *might* scare off an intruder, certainly teenagers who are out for the first time burglarizing a neighborhood, but not the professionals.  They’ll see right through it.  In fact, it might convince them that you really do not have a security system in place.

Fake Security System Signs
There are fake security system signs and stickers that can be purchased . . . anywhere.  Burglars know the good home security systems out there, such as SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, ADT, Vivint and others.  Name recognition for a home security system matters, and if you are not putting an official home security sign out there in your lawn, you are in effect, advertising that you do not have a home security system.

How hard is it for a any thief to Google the “company” of the “home security system” signs that you have planted in your yard, and on your windows?  Even those new to the business of burglarizing are probably not going to fall for this, and I would recommend against it.  Again, it may serve as a magnet to burglars.

Who Are You Really Fooling?

I want to caution you not to fall into a false sense of security.  For example, like the parent who believes that using the “Find My Friends” app on their iPhone will somehow miraculously prevent their kids from being kidnapped.  Similarly, setting up fake security measures will not prevent professional burglars from stealing your goods.

I also want to caution you not to believe that you can out-wit the professionals.  Sure, you may fool some, but certainly not all of them.  Remember, a professional burglar does this for a living.  You don’t.  They think of ways to refine their craft and learn quickly from the mistakes of the past.

Young inexperienced burglars will fall for the methods discussed above, but you won’t fool those who do this for a living.

Statistically, How Experienced Are Most Burglars?

The UNC Charlotte conducted a study and wrote a piece entitled, “Study Provides Insights on Habits and Motivations of Burglars”.  In it, they found the following:

  • If a burglar breaks into your home, the burglar will most likely be a man under 25 years old.
  • 85% of those who break into your home are amateurs who are desperate to find anything of value that can be turned into cash quickly.
  • 12% admitted to having a plan in how to break in, while 41% made an impulsive decision to break in.
  • 83% of burglars admitted that they check to see if there is an alarm system, and 60% would not break in if they found one.

85% of burglars are amateurs.

What do we learn from this study? SimpliSafe did a study on those who attempted to burglarize homes, and when asked, “Why did you break into the home?”, the burglars responded stating, “If the home is not protected, I have a right to take whatever I want”.  All logic aside, this does offer some insight into the mentality of those who do break into homes to burglarize them.

What stands out most here is that 85% of burglars are amateurs.  They are inexperienced.  They are young.  They also are afraid of alarm systems.

Because Amateurs are intimidated by real home security systems, they will also be intimidated by fake burglar alarms, because they can’t tell the difference.

If you implement well-placed fake burglar alarms throughout your home and property, only the type that are intimidating, you may prevent up to 85% of break-ins.  But what about the remaining 15%?

Why Not Spring for a Real Security System?

To the point, a real home security system is more effective than a fake home security system.  A real home security system will dispatch Police to your home, whereas a fake security system will not.  Real security cameras can be used as evidence to find and prosecute burglars, while fake security cameras will not record break-ins and can not be used as evidence . . . because there is no evidence.

You have to ask yourself this very question:  “Am I putting more time and energy into faking a home security system than it’s worth?”  You may fool some potential burglars, even up to 85% of them, however, you won’t have a peace of mind about it.  There is something to be said about having a real security system in place, knowing that if you are robbed, the police will automatically be notified and dispatched to your house.

If I may, I would like to ask you a personal question.  Why you are really contemplating a fake home security measures?  What is the real underlying reason? Is it because of the cost involved?  Is it because it seems too complicated to set up?

There are a variety of home security systems available on the market today, many that are VERY affordable, some of which do not have a monthly contract.  There are also some home security systems that you, yes you, can literally install inside of an hour.

I encourage you to do your own research, but below are 5 home security systems that you may want to consider.  I am not suggesting that these are the BEST on the market, but they each have notable reputations.  Just keep in mind, however, that each person has their own unique needs, and as such, there is no one perfect solution that will work for everyone.  You have to find the solution that will work best for your family and budget.

Upfront Costs*$49$549$229.96$99$449
Monthly Monitoring Fee*$28.99$39.99$14.99$34.99$4.99
Contract RequiredYESNONOYESNO
Prof Installation RequiredYESYESNONONO
Environmental SensorsYESYESYESYESYES
Z-Wave/ZigBee CompatibilityYESYESYESYESYES
Voice Assistant CompatibilityAlexaAlexa, GoogleAlexaAlexa, GoogleAlexa, Google

* These prices START at this rate, however, depending on the package that you select from the given company, the upfront start-up cost could cost you as much as $3,000 (mmHmmm ADT Pulse).

In looking at the chart above, for clarification, let’s go over each category covered.

Upfront Costs
The upfront costs will cover the cost of the equipment and professional installation.

Monthly Monitoring Fee
As you can see from the chart, the monthly fees range dramatically from about $5 to $35 per month.  But remember, you have to consider all that is being offered for any given home security system, and then determine if you the monthly monitoring fee is worth it.

Contract Required
Like a cell phone contract, no-one wants to be tied to a contract.  Contracts lock you in for a specified period of time, some for up to 3 years.  That seems like a very long time to me.  Consider that if you were to move during that contract period, you would still be paying monthly fees for a system that you are no longer using, in a house that you don’t even live in.  Be careful here, as you want to make sure that you do not plan on moving before that contract period ends.  If can either continue to pay the monthly “monitoring fee”, or break the contract and pay a hefty penalty.  Always read the fine print.

Professional Installation Required
Some systems require “professional installation”, and for hard-wired systems, I urge you to allow a professional to do the job, even if you are handy with tools.  Remember, the professional installer does this all day, every day.  He knows what he is doing.  On the other hand, if you purchase a system like SimpliSafe, which does not require a professional installer.  I have heard that one can literally set up the entire system in less than an hour.

Cellular Backup
Home security systems rely on an internet connection to protect one’s home, however, if for any reason you lose internet connectivity, a cellular signal is required to communicate with the home security system main station to dispatch the Police or Fire Department.  It is highly recommended that you ensure that your home security system does have a cellular backup.

Power Outage Backup
In the event of a power-outage, you will want to ensure that your home security system is still functioning.  With a power outage backup, your home security system can continue to function as normal for up to 24 hours.  Once the power does come back on, the battery backup will automatically recharge itself, ensuring that it is ready for use should the power go out again.

Environmental Sensors
Environmental sensors are sensors that will detect everything from carbon monoxide, smoke detection, fire breakout or water leaks.  Once triggered, the home security system main station will be notified who will automatically dispatch the Fire Department.

IFTTT Support
This is where it gets fun.  In case you are not aware, IFTTT (If This Then That), is the free way to get all your apps and devices talking to each other.

For example, if your home security system supports IFTTT, you can simply either tell Alexa or Google Home to arm your home security system, and it will do it.  You can have the lights turn on automatically when entering a room.  Of course, this all depends on if the home security system you have supports IFTTT and if (for example), your lighting system supports IFTTT.

To find out all that IFTTT will allow you to do with the home security system that you are interested in, you can click here to go to the IFTTT website and simply enter in the name of the home security system you are interested in and it will show you all of the applets available to you.

Z-Wave/ZigBee Compatibility
Z-Wave and ZigBee are wireless radio frequencies that control and monitor connected devices to your home security system.

Voice Assistant Compatibility
Would you like to turn you home security system on and off by simply speaking to it?  Of course you do!  Imagine walking into your home not having to race to the control center to enter your security code to disable the alarm.  You can walk into your house with your arms full of groceries and simply turn it off by talking to it via Goole Home or Amazon Alexa.

Closing Thoughts

It should be apparent by now that “fake burglar alarms” are effective for inexperienced burglars, but they don’t fool the professional burglar . . . at all.  Believing that you can fool a professional burglar is just silly.  It’s like a 4-year-old trying to convince his Mom that he did not take a cookie out of the cookie jar, as the crumbs fall down his face while chewing the cookie as crumbs from that cookie.  It’s just not convincing at all.

A better solution is to utilize the more convincing methods, such as a fake TV and the fake dog, as a secondary measure to your existing home security system.  This will make your home and property appear like a fortified fortress, and it will give you great peace of mind knowing that you truly are protected.

Tim Chesonis

Tim loves writing to help people succeed. He loves tech, Linux, his iPhone and iPad. When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching “The Middle” or “Breaking Bad”, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.