Security Cameras: You’ve Been Duped!

 *Images removed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Spy cams, nanny cams, granny cams, web cams, hidden cams, traffic cams, earth cams, weather cams, red light cams, pole cams, pinhole cams, hat cams, necktie cams, alarm clock cams, nut and bolt cams, soda machine cams, sign cams, fish-eye cams, security cams… They’re everywhere! Aahhhhhhhhh!!

Yep, someone is watching someone, somewhere, every single minute of the day. But were you aware that not all of those hulking metal boxes with their black, shark-eye covers are functional? Did you know that you may have been duped into thinking that you were being watched when you entered that spooky parking garage. That no one was looking when you walked down aisle 47 in the long john section of Mountain Mama’s Huntin’ and Fishin’ Emporium?

It’s true. Not all surveillance cameras are real. That’s a relief, huh? Well, not so much. Sure, there are tons of fake cameras in use all over the world, but you never know which ones are actually working and which ones are merely hollow shells.

The faux cameras are simple metal, or plastic boxes that normally contain AA, C, or D batteries. The batteries power a small red light on the front of the device. The light is there to make people think the camera is in operation.

Why do people use fake cameras? Simple. They’re cheap, and they force would-be crooks to stop and think before committing a crime.

Here are a few examples. Can you tell the difference between these cams and the real thing?


• Measures: 7 1/8 x 2 1/8 x 2 1/4″ (excluding mounting bracket).

• Operates on one “C” battery (not included). Will operate for approximately six months on one battery.

• Features authentic video cable, durable metal housing and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Price $26.00
• Flashing Red LED Light
• A Real Video Cable
• Weatherproof Aluminum Housing
• Fully Adjustable Bracket

• Measures 10 3/4″ long (rain shield extends 2 more inches) x 4″ round (excluding mounting bracket).

• Operates on 2 “AA” batteries (not included).
Price: $26.00
• This camera contains a flashing red LED light which draws extra attention to the camera particularly at night.

• Base measures 4 1/2″ across and the dome is 2 3/4″ high.

• Operates on 2 “AA” batteries (not included).
Price $16.00

*     *     *

* Since I’ve been receiving an enormous amount of response to my reviews of the TV show Castle, I thought I’d better clarify a few things (I’m receiving hundreds of emails – not all of them are pleasant – and I actually had to pay for more bandwidth on my site due to the huge volume of traffic that rolls in on Monday night/Tuesday morning after the episodes airs).

Okay, to set the record straight:

– I do the review so writers won’t make the mistake of using incorrect police procedure/forensics, and CSI in their books. Not because I dislike the show, or any of the actors, writers, or crew.

It never fails, as soon as some wacky and bizarre procedure airs on a cool TV show we’ll see it in a book a few months later. The next thing you know, an editor starts believing it because she read it in a competitor’s book, and, well, then you have tons of cordite smelling up the place.

Next, a jury member reads the goofy stuff that the editor insisted go into her client’s new bestseller. Then, along comes the acquittal of a real-life rapist because the M.E. couldn’t magically find evidence like the psychic Lanie Parrish on Castle manages to dream up. Whew, long sentence, but you get the idea.

I’m serious about this. This is how the whole CSI effect began. It’s real, and it’s not cool.

– Anyway, I actually like the show. I think Castle and Beckett are wonderful characters. Perfect for the series.

– Yes, I do realize Castle is written for entertainment. The show is fun.

– No, I don’t think Nathan Fillion is anything but male. Nor do I think Stana Katic is anything but female.

– The two supporting detectives seem like nice gentlemen. No, I don’t hate them. How could I? I’ve never met either of them.

– No, I don’t dislike the woman who plays the medical examiner. I do think her character is awful, horrible, and a terrible representation of the profession, but for goodness sake, I don’t know her personally. I’m sure she’s a fine woman. Sure, I think she should slap the person who writes her lines, but hey, she’s taking the checks to the bank every week.

– I hope the show is a success. I don’t want it to fail. Actually, I want to see my book on Castle’s office bookshelf.

– No, I’ve never written to any of the cast members to complain about their acting skills. I’m not an actor, director, drama teacher, or producer. How would I know if their methods and actions are proper?

– Lastly, if my reviews are offensive to you,  please don’t read them. They’re not going to get any better because I’m only looking for the bad stuff. Remember, I’m not writing a true review of the show. I’m pointing out incorrect procedure to help writers. That’s it. Nothing more.

But, if you still insist upon reading these weekly reviews, even if they make you ill, and you still feel the need to write me to complain that I’m being unfair to certain cast members, and that I’m ruining Nathan Fillion’s life (like he reads this blog), then I guess I need to advise you to not run with scissors, don’t poke your eyes with sticks and other sharp objects, and when it’s raining you should probably go inside.

*If anyone knows any of the Castle cast members please give them a heads up about the Writers Police Academy. I’d like to extend an invitation to them.  Here’s a preview of the event. Registration opens soon!

Writers Police Academy

Sweat Now, So Your Manuscript Doesn’t Bleed Red Ink Later

September 24-26, 2010

Guilford Technical Community College


Public Safety Training Academy

Jamestown, N.C.

Train like the pros

Bring your writing to life

Real police academy instructors

Something for all genres

Train with real police, fire, and EMS equipment

An onsite working fire station and EMS equipment

Workshops include:


FATS (Firearms Training Simulator)

Arson investigation

Homicide investigation

Crime lab training in a real crime lab

Developing prints in a fuming chamber

Impression evidence – making molds and castings



DUI Investigation

Fire department and EMS response

Jail and prison searches

(We have real jail cells on site)

Patrol cars



Handcuffing and arrest techniques

Defensive tactics

(learn striking techniques against live attackers)

Pepper spray




High-risk traffic stops

Building entry and searches

Police tools and equipment

(Touch, feel, hold, see, and wear actual police equipment)

Accident reconstruction

Evidence collection and preservation

Writing realistic fight scenes

Undercover operations

Concealed weapons

(See how the experts conceal their firearms)

Live demos by local police agencies

And much, much more…!

We are constantly adding workshops based on your requests.

Keynote Speaker

Jeffery Deaver

With special guest

NYC Medical Examiner Jonathan Hayes

(online soon!)

10 replies
  1. Pat Marinelli
    Pat Marinelli says:

    Hang in there, Lee. Your book, blog, and critique of Castle help me to be a better writer…and I enjoy the reviews. Keep up the great work. I areally do ppreciate the time you put in to all this.

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I work in a convenience store we are open 24/7 we have a great system except like last night where it sits got too hot and it shut down. Had to turn it back on and cool the place down some.

  3. Elena
    Elena says:

    On security cameras – there is yet another catagory. A company wanted to hire me as a consultant. I went to check out their five story building and found that they had recently installed a state of the art security system with automatic generator backup and everything wired into an auxiliary panel with the Main turned off. Why? I asked. Because after spending major $$$$ they discovered it had to be ‘on’ 24/7 to work and they didn’t want to pay for the extra electricity.

    I turned down the job.

  4. Monissa
    Monissa says:

    I enjoy the reviews even though I’ve watched the show.

    Yes, I do realize Castle is written for entertainment. The show is fun.

    I am getting very sick of people who use this sort of argument, whether it’s about TV, game or fiction. Considering the number of people who’s main source of information is such entertainment, there should be some obligation on creators to at least try and get it write. And if you’re going to do something, shouldn’t you do the best job you can?

    (Oh, and I’d love to go to one of them writer’s police academies but overseas airfares make it a bit out of my reach 🙂

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I just hope we’re all learning something from these posts. Then it would have been worth the effort. Sometimes, when I’m still grinding these out at 2am after watching the show, I wonder. But I do think, for the most part, everyone is having fun.

  6. Ann Littlewood
    Ann Littlewood says:

    Hang in there! So many of us love your real-world perspective. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Accuracy and reality are scarce commodities (death panels, anyone?) and your perspective is invaluable. I’ll never, ever have anyone smell cordite again thanks to you.

  7. Erica
    Erica says:

    I know I’m one who rushes here after I’ve seen Castle. Though lately I’ve had to watch it later and tell Su not to spoil it. 🙂 That’s meant avoiding the blog until later, and I’m finding that difficult.

    I think people aren’t happy unless they’re complaining about something. But if they’re complaining to you, they’re also reading your blogs. So you win either way.

  8. Su
    Su says:

    On security cameras – the bottom one looks almost exactly like the real one in my husband’s office. I know that one’s real, but I’d never be able to tell the difference.

    On Castle – You should be flattered that these people feel you have so much power, Lee. You, single-handedly through power of your blog, can destroy the careers of these actors. Amazing. I had no idea.

    I’m tempted to ask what the question was to the answer, “No, I don’t think Nathan Fillion is anything but male…” but I’m really, really afraid to.


  9. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I think most readers are having fun with this. Although, the nasty comments did come from people who’ve been reading this blog. Those folks are just passionate about their favorite show and actors. I understand, because I’m the same way over The Andy Griffith Show and Barney Fife!

  10. Marie-Nicole Ryan
    Marie-Nicole Ryan says:

    I’m sorry folks are beating up on you with all their mean e-mails. I get such a kick out of the show and your Tuesday morning quarterbacking. I like to know if I picked out the same so-not-real procedures.

    I love the show and the characters and if all those mean folks actually read your blog, they’d know you enjoy the show and are using it as a way to teach us mayhem-inclined writers the difference between reality life on the streets and TV entertainment.

Comments are closed.