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Insecurity Camera

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Ironically, the room would be more secure if someone stole the exit sign.

"No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency."
Evil Overlord List, Rule #67

Breaking into a secret Black Site facility ought to be the hardest thing in the world—even if you can bamboozle the guards and outfox the Angry Guard Dog there's still the thorny problem of the security cameras that ring the compound. Or there ought to be the thorny problem of the security cameras, but it seems that every high-security base, whether it's run by terrorists, the Government or a Diabolical Mastermind, buys its security cameras from the same crummy factory.

As a result, the allegedly hi-tech cameras that can identify an intruder the moment he steps into their field of view can be shot, smashed, hacked or otherwise monkeyed with without any alarm being raised. Is it too much to ask to have a security guy watching the screens, or better yet, an electrical circuit that can detect when an operating camera has been violently destroyed? Even if they're unbreakable, the spy can still stand directly underneath them without being seen, because they only have a very limited line of vision and - unlike the security cameras in, say, a shopping mall - are not covered with a black dome to disguise exactly where the camera is looking. These cameras will often oscillate in a slow and predictable pattern, allowing an intruder time to sneak under them, when it would have made more sense for the camera to remain fixed at one angle.

And even failing that, the cameras may take several seconds to "focus" on the intruder and sound the alarm, making a sound warning the intruder to run for cover as they do so.

However, while the manufacturers might not fit failsafes, they do sometimes load the cameras up with all kinds of pointless technological gimmicks, like lights that change colour to show when the camera isn't working, little klaxons that sound when it sees someone or even a little motor that keeps the camera upright so it can drop down dramatically when shot or turned off. Okay, so most of these help the intruder, but let's see you design security cameras every day and see how long it takes before you start putting in pointless bells and whistles. Literally.

Insecurity Cameras are a very common obstacle in video games, especially Stealth-Based Games and Stealth Based Missions. This is due to the Rule of Fun: it would be frustrating to sneak past a realistic network of cameras that cover every single passage, can't be disabled, and call a swarm of guards or cause an instant mission failure the second you accidentally step into their field of vision, so adding some of these flaws gives the player a way to get around them.

See also Camera Spoofing, Weak Turret Gun, Snowy Screen of Death, Surveillance Station Slacker. Useless Security Camera is the equivalent from the viewpoint of someone for whom the camera would've been useful. Contrast Magical Security Cam.


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    Fan Works 
  • Dominoes: Kaitou KID is a technomancer, enabling him to turn all manner of security tech and whatnot to his advantage. Cameras included; instead of being the eyes of those who would stop him, they become his eyes.
  • In The PreDespair Kids, the cameras outside of Hope's Peak work just fine. But the ones inside the school grounds always seem to be down for repairs whenever drama erupts on campus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The 6th Day, one of the two Arnold Schwarzeneggers walks around a building shooting out all the security cameras, which makes him look pretty stupid when the bad guys instantly see what he's up to and capture him. However, it turns out he was just a diversion so the other Arnold could sneak in unnoticed.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum had Jason directing a target by cell phone through a train station keeping both of them hidden from the multiple security cameras (and government agents) watching them. It was implied to be part of his Hyper-Awareness that he was able to identify the blind spots of at least 10 cameras. It wasn't until his target panicked and broke out of the blind spot Jason set him on that the agents were able to track him.
  • Chappie: It is even shown that the company has security cameras, but no one seems to be interested in checking up on them, because to do so would negate a lot of plot.
  • Justified in Den of Thieves. The guards immediately notice when the cameras goes on the fritz, but cannot send anyone one to check it because the counting rooms are in Lock Down due to the brownout. The keep an eye on the fuzzed screen and do their best to fix it from the monitor room, and send someone to investigate as soon as the lock down ends.
  • Entrapment:
    • In an elevator, Mac sets a device to freeze-frame the camera, just as he and Gin step out of it. When this happens, they step back inside.
      Camera operator: I can't find them, sir.
      Chief: There are over two thousand cameras in this building, find them!
      Kruz: Listen, I don't mean to intrude, but these people are very, very smart, and if they disappear, it's because they mean to.
    • Later, they flee into a room filled with gas, just after Mac smashes a camera to hide this.
      Chief: (with a chuckle) Temper temper, Mr. Macdougall. (In radio) Confirm suspects on floor fifty, heading south away from the gas.
      (Cut to:)
      Mac: They'll think we'll try to avoid the gas, so try to keep your eyes closed, and take a deep breath.
  • Justified in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in which a burglar "disables" the security system at the convenience store Spicoli's working at by spraying paint over the lens. It being 1982, that probably was the only camera in the store.
  • Played so straight it has to be a parody, in Hot Fuzz a crew of kids spraypaint over the whole village's CCTV system while the character watching the monitors just happened to be reading the paper. Oddly enough it's completely irrelevant if he sees them do it or not; the intention is just to blind him during the final battle, not to sneak in.
  • Inside Man: The robbery crew are shown using special infrared equipment to disable the bank's security cameras beforehand.
  • James Bond:
    • Lampshaded in Tomorrow Never Dies. There's a scene where Bond and his current partner, Wai Lin, are breaking into Elliot Carver's stealth ship. Carver is discussing something with one of his subordinates when he then notices Lin on the security monitors in the corner. The person who's supposed to be watching them is busy writing notes on his clipboard. Carver strides over to him and yells, "What the Hell do I pay you for?"
    • In Die Another Day, Bond actually discovers a Hidden Door by looking at a security camera that is pointed straight at an "empty" spot in the wall, and completely blind to the rest of the corridor, making it easy to disable.
  • In Panic Room, as the thieves enter the titular room and leave Jodie Foster out, she grabs a hammer and starts smashing the cameras, so her further acts can't be seen. One of the thieves stops to wonder why they didn't do that while breaking in.
  • An amusing subversion in Rush Hour occurs where Inspector Lee jumps over the wall of the consulate and nearly face-plants a camera looking straight at him. After a brief pause, he pushes the camera to point away from him - a little pointless though because a couple of downed FBI agents were actually watching him and the compound was on full alert.
    • Subverted again in Rush Hour 2 when Lee is sneaking into the casino. He rides on top of a chip cart, then secures himself high above the hallway, only to find himself staring a camera in the face. It looks like nobody took notice until another camera starts following him and his image then gets sent to all camera screens, alerting all guards.
  • Averted in Star Wars: A New Hope. Han, Chewy, and Luke shoot the guards and the security cameras in the detention block holding Princess Leia, but another guard station calls in demanding to know what happened. Han fails to bluff them off, and more Stormtroopers are sent in to investigate.
  • In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny when Jack Black is 'sneaking' into the Rock and Roll History Museum, JB thinks he's being extremely stealthy about the whole thing, but a shot of the guard room reveals he's pretty much been on camera the whole time. The guards, however, are too busy getting stoned and telling stories to notice.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): There's a sequence near the beginning where a team of art thieves are performing an elaborate operation and one of them ends up dangling in full view of a security camera. This is seen in the main security room, but the person manning the cameras is catatonic and doesn't actually do anything in response.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past. While infiltrating the Pentagon, Beast gets the Ominous Multiple Screens of the guardroom to start playing a TV show instead, as if there's been some kind of transmission glitch.

  • Artemis Fowl loves this trope; it does it once every other book.
    • A notable example is in The Eternity Code: Artemis and co. have to get past a phalanx of security cameras to break into the Spiro Needle... and they do it easily, complete with Techno Babble about why they can't be seen on the video. Granted, they have fairy technology, but you'd think a corporation with such a huge security budget could afford to put their cameras in the walls, rather than mounting them in such a way that they could be turned to face away from the intruders.
    • It happens earlier, though a realistic (by human standards) means was provided. In the first book, Mulch was called into the infiltrate Fowl Manor. Foaly simply subverted the security camera's abilities by feeding the system a few second long loop. Luckily, Artemis didn't catch on for a while.
  • In Border Songs, the border patrol installs surveillance cameras aimed at the Rousseau residence. Wayne later shoots them down while wearing a George W. Bush mask.
  • Averted in Doc Sidhe: In the final battle, both sides use and abuse security cameras ("talk-boxes") - both their own and the other side's - but none of the glitches are ever treated as being due to anything other than deliberate intent. (Including one case where one of the characters remotely destroys one of her own security cameras in order to warn her friends at the camera's location.)
  • In Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, a bird bumped into a sensorcam months ago, pointing it at the sky. Maintenance workers never got around to fixing it, meaning Hoshi can snoop underneath it.
  • Paladin of Shadows: The security cameras at the biological weapons facility from the prologue of Unto the Breech were positioned, thanks to what the narration calls "typical Russian inefficiency", so as to leave a dead spot in their coverage, which is exploited by intruders. Several cameras being shot out by the intruders gets only a casual look by the monitoring staff, with ultimately fatal results for the staff.
  • In one of the Phoenix Force series (a Mack Bolan 'Executioner' spin-off) the heroes are checking the security at a nuclear power plant. A guard mentions that one of the security cameras is out, but he's called for Maintenance. The leader of Phoenix Force asks if he's sent a guard to secure the area while the camera is down. The plant manager says he's being a bit paranoid, opens the next door and gets shot in the face by a terrorist.
  • The heroes in Relativity use a technobabble device to disable the security cameras in a police station parking lot. They assume (correctly) that if the cameras are down for only 90 seconds, and then come back on, no one will bother to check them out. (Yes, it was the good guys doing it. They were trying to track down a fake police car.)
  • No matter what the games do, the Star Wars novels tend to avert this pretty cleanly (except when Jedi are involved, of course). Wraith Squadron, in particular, goes to major effort at times to disable them without alerting anyone (typically by intercepting the data-stream it should be sending and splicing in a loop of "normal" footage). Occasionally goes even farther—a web of security cams in Solo Command has a prominent gap in it, so the Wraiths (rightfully) figure it's a trap, with hidden cameras covering the whole thing. And a villain in The Bacta War tries to get away by blowing out cameras along his path... so the guy in the security center just tracks him by what cameras stopped transmitting recently. The same thing happens to the heroes in Shadows of the Empire—traveling up a skyscraper, Lando shoots out the transmission wires for an entire floor's worth of cameras at a time, so the villain simply goes to intercept them on a floor that still has working cameras.
    • As for Jedi, they can 'glitch' cameras whenever the cameras show them (Or sometimes only when there's enough of them to be recognizable, so in crowds the camera works until it happens to see their face), so as to foil AI-based recognition. As of the latest series of books, various people have figured out they can track Jedi by programming A.I.s to look for this glitching moving from camera to camera, although they obviously have to guess as to who is being tracked.
    • In Survivor's Quest, the people from the Chaf Envoy get trapped in three different turbolifts by the Outbound Flight survivor titled the Guardian. The Guardian tells them not to cut or blast their way out, because the turbolifts will crush them. The turbolift with Luke and Mara in it immediately has all potential camera sites covered up by them; the four unspeakably badass stormtroopers in another turbolift figure out where the camera is and cover it and only it. But the Guardian is in too much of a bind to do anything about it; plus, he doesn't think they'll be able to escape. Instead he lets someone in the third turbolift talk him into letting them out to talk to them, and leaves the Jedi and the stormtroopers where they are.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted on American Gods when we see a flashback to how Shadow and Laura first met. She is working as a dealer in a casino and realizes that Shadow is trying to cheat. She warns him that the casino has upgraded its security and while he might think that he is seating in a security camera blindspot, he is actually watched by multiple hidden cameras. Presumably the "blindspot" was setup as Schmuck Bait to easier catch cheaters.
  • In Angel, Lindsey gets magical tattoos in the fifth season that allow him to walk unseen past security cameras. He even waves.
  • In Burn Notice, the security cameras are taken out with a laser-pointer overloading the chip. The entire purpose of this, however, is to make the guy think there's a security breach, when there really isn't one.
    • Another time, they don't have to do anything about the cameras because the bad guys let the gardening go undone and the camera's blocked by foliage.
  • Daredevil (2015): In the first episode of season 1, Wilson Fisk tries to have Karen Page killed in her jail cell to keep her from talking. When petitioning for Karen's release after the attempt fails, Matt and Foggy threaten a civil suit against the precinct, with Foggy even pointing out how conveniently the surveillance cameras in Karen's detention area went haywire right before the assault.
  • Fargo: Season Three': Golem, a henchman on VM Varga's payroll, disguises himself as a guard and tries to kill Ray Stussy's girlfriend Nikki in jail with a lethal injection of drugs (to make it look like an overdose), but Gloria intervenes, and he manages to escape while she's trying to handcuff him. When trying to play back surveillance footage from the camera in the holding cells, the camera glitches out at the time of the attack. Sheriff Dammik is inclined to see it as a glitch whereas Gloria correctly sees it as someone hacking the camera to make sure the attack on Nikki wasn't recorded.
  • BBC's drama Hot Money was based on a real-life case where women working at a Bank of England depot which destroyed time-served bank-notes chose to reprieve old notes from the furnace and give them a new lease of life. Getting on for two or three million pounds in very old notes were diverted into caches and secret bank accounts before the Bank of England caught on. As cleaners were involved in the scam, they elected to clean the cameras and their lenses at just the right moment - thus blocking the shot whilst others behind them stole arm-loads of notes. All the camera saw at that moment would be a cleaner legitimately polishing the lens with a cloth.
  • Averted entirely in Las Vegas, which is set in a Las Vegas resort and casino. Security cameras play a vital role in pretty much every episode, and are covered with the black bubbles designed to keep people from knowing where they're pointing. Y'know, like in real life. Not to mention the sophisticated facial recognition and tracking system, which can cross-reference with national databases. At one point, a guest points out that the cameras they're using are outdated.
  • Averted in Leverage where when Eliot knocks out a camera with a rock, a few minutes later a few guards show up to see why the camera went out.
  • On Magnum, P.I. in "Ghost Writer", Magnum and company are captured and placed in a room that has a single rotating security camera in the center of the ceiling. They simply walk behind the camera, causing the guard to think that they've disappeared and come into the room to look for them.
  • Monk: "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" has one where Monk realizes that a robbery at his credit union was an inside job because a big ficus tree in the lobby was moved in front of the surveillance camera just that morning. While at first it looks like the bank manager is the one responsible, it eventually turns out that the entire bank staff faked a robbery with the intention of skimming (with them later killing the bank manager because he got greedy and couldn't wait for the heat to die down before spending his share of the loot).
  • Spooks. During a celebrity child kidnapping that occurs during a party, a co-conspirator (who's an escort girl) distracts the security guard monitoring the cameras by having sex with him. Unfortunately for both of them there's another camera in the room to show if the guard is bunking off.
  • The Trailer Park Boys occasionally have to deal with these problems, such as when they rob grocery or convenience stores. In one robbery in the first season, one of the Boys tries to get rid of the camera by shooting it with his gun, although by that time he's already on film with no mask on. Presumably learning from their mistakes, in later seasons the Boys make sure to take the security tapes along with everything else they steal. Also averted in one episode, when one of the Boys openly lets himself get caught on camera, since he wants to go to jail.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • The Alpha Protocol security cameras all cast a handy blue cone of light so you know where they are looking. An alarm will sound if you try shooting them, however.
  • Averted in Batman: Arkham City. TYGER will note when one of their security cameras is destroyed, and given where they're located, they're somewhat justified in not sending out a repair team.
  • In the videogame version of Batman Begins, there are no security cameras in Falconi's Elaborate Underground Base-cum-Bad Guy Bar until you get to the monitor room, and deal with the Mook watching them. The only purpose of the cameras is that if you hack into them, you can see the infra-red beams of the Laser Hallways.
  • In BioShock, cameras are not only breakable, but spectacularly easy to dodge; when your character enters their view, they spend 3-4 seconds beeping before any kind of alarm is set off. Their movement is also ridiculously noisy. When they change their viewing direction, they make a noise that suggests they aren't so much moving as much as grinding stones. Sure, the game is set in 1960, but still...
    • Not only that, but they also emit bright, red light in area they are watching, which magically turns green, once hacked. Thank goodness for colour-coding engineers.
    • Quick players can shamelessly exploit this. As the game is mostly played in small, enclosed spaces, you are rarely far away from the cameras. So if you turn a corner and find yourself looking squarely at a beeping camera, you can just run to it, jump, and enter the hacking interface (which stops time passing) before it sounds the alarm. Then you hack it, and the problem is solved.
    • Possible justified in that Rapture is in an extreme state of disrepair with water everywhere. Presumably, what remains of the inhabitants are more worried about each other than about keeping them in top condition.
    • The cameras appear to be mostly automated as far as calling for guards, also destroying the cameras doesn't seem to stop Atlas or Andrew Ryan from knowing where you are at any given time.
  • Bioshock Infinite: While traditional cameras are absent, the Boys of Silence enemies fill in the role. Despite their terrifying appearance, they function essentially identically to the cameras from the first two games.
  • In Champions Online, the Resistance adventure: "Rehabilitation Center" episode.
    Metallic voice: Security bot disabled. (pause) Security bot reinitializing. (pause) Unauthorized persons detected!
    1... 2... 3...
    And then, for those who didn't quite grasp the idea the (quite killable and quite rebootable) bot was trying to get across:
    Metallic voice: Alarm raised!
  • Dead Rising averts this; the Security Room (which serves as a safe haven amidst the Zombie Apocalypse) has several monitors that are hooked up to the malls numerous security cameras. The camera feed not only helps the plot along at certain times, but they're also watched by Otis (a security guard) who contacts Frank to inform him of any survivors he's spotted hiding in the mall. However, the cameras are still not all-seeing, since there are several survivors and some boss fights that are not brought to your attention; you must find them yourself.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • In Deus Ex, the player can use nano tools to shut down cameras without anyone noticing or any alarms being sounded. They can also hack into the system and turn off the cameras and nobody will turn them back on. Even when a camera does see the player, it lets out a few seconds of klaxon noise before it triggers the proper alarm, giving the player a chance to flee.
      • However, considering that the systems are automated, there is no one to notice them being turned off, and a delay could conceivably be there to avoid false alarms.
      • The cameras do transmit a picture, if the player hacks into the system, but allowing manual viewing on top of automation isn't inconceivable.
      • They probably function in a similar manner to the Identify-Friend-or-Foe feature of JC's nanoaugmentation, which means that they'd check to see if something looks sufficiently "foe-like" before setting off the alarm. The visual feed of the security stations is only visible if someone is actively checking them out and no enemies do so. The efficiency of fully automated technology ends up backfiring, eh?
    • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, the cameras get dumber as they now emit a cone of colored light that indicates their field of vision. Possibly justified as the PC has various kinds of implants that alter his vision — the player's HUD and other screens are supposedly visible to the character as well. They are also more vulnerable to EMP and transmit in greyscale rather than full color, as opposed to the earlier models in the first game. Ain't technology grand?
    • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the cone to show their field of vision is there but explicitly described as being from a part of Adam's augmentation. Destroying a camera will set off the alarm, although you can temporarily disable one for a few seconds with the stun gun without setting off the alarm. That still doesn't excuse the fact that most cameras oscillate rather than staying put. Cameras will also tolerate a second or two of "suspicious" behavior before actually raising the alarm, which makes sense for an automated system to get a good confirmation rather than throwing false positives all day.
    • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided follows a similar pattern as Human Revolution. Stun guns are no longer able to disable cameras, however several guns gain EMP ammo which functions similarly. Adam also gains a pair of new augmentations that can also serve this purpose. Additionally, once disabled, cameras can be destroyed without triggering an alarm, though enemies who spot a destroyed camera will become suspicious.
  • Inverted in Evil Genius: one of the game's challenge is to build a network of cameras and trap sensors (that, individually, fit this trope to a T) that the James Bond types will not shoot on sight. Your own minions rely on them to know where the investigators are, so having a top notch insecurity system is key.
  • In The Feeble Files, Feeble is perfectly able to render a prison camera useless by lobbing some goop onto the lens. While standing right in front of the camera.
  • If 47 is spotted by a camera in Hitman: Blood Money, he gets a new task to go and get the security tapes to keep himself from being identifiable. Similarly, in Hitman (2016), being recorded by cameras lowers your rating, so you have to destroy the security footage if you want a silent assassin rating. You can also shoot out cameras along a given path to make a specific camera inactive, though doing this on Professional Mode causes a guard to investigate the camera destruction.
  • James Bond:
    • GoldenEye (1997). Perfect Dark too, while we're at it. Highly explosive, as well. Be careful while blasting them on the run, they can and will damage you. Oddly, shooting them through the lens is more effective than shooting them through the side.
    • In both games, though, the cameras could be oddly finicky. Sometimes, the alarm would sound the instant you set foot in their range, other times they'd stare at you for several seconds before it happened.
      • It's partially connected to you shooting in the camera's line of sight- it will auto-notice you if you shoot and it sees it.
    • In NightFire, there are cameras in the stealth-centric levels. They function differently depending on which version of the game you're playing:
      • In the console version, their range of vision is indicated by a red beam, and they turn quickly in a predictable manner. They're easily avoided, and in one level, can be easily neutralized by sabotaging the electric breaker found early in the stage. You can't shoot them, but you don't really need to in the first place.
      • In the PC version, they turn slowly, and you can avoid their gaze by standing directly under them. They usually show a green light if everything's OK, but you can stand in front of them for nearly 5 seconds after the green light turns to yellow before it turns red and the alarms are sounded. You can't shoot them, either. Doing so results in the alarm instantly being sounded.
    • In GoldenEye (Wii), if you are spotted by a security camera, additional reinforcements quickly arrive. However, shooting out the cameras doesn't warrant any reaction from whoever's on monitor duty.
    • Everything or Nothing has you knock out the security cameras with EMP grenades.
    • The cameras in Perfect Dark Zero use the "cone of light" method of detection, and can be taken out with a single shot to the lens.
    • In the video game version of The World Is Not Enough, the first level features security cameras that must be shot out to continue. They are, of course, of the slow-moving and slow-detecting variety—one can stand in their range for a few seconds and all they do is beep; eventually the alarms will go off (the good guys downstairs do not react to the dozens of bad guys upstairs being slaughtered, despite several civilians being left alive).
    • Strangely averted in the video game version of Tomorrow Never Dies when in a henchman's office building lair. On one floor there are many security cameras, but none can be shot out. However, they also do not react to stepping in front of them, or even killing guards right in front of them!
  • Kasumi's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 involves pulling a heist. Naturally, there are security cameras. However, she manages to wave her omnitool and mess with the feed. Of course, the guy she's stealing from had anticipated that she'd sneak in and sends his security forces in through the only door out.
  • In Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the player can shoot out cameras or baffle them with chaff grenades. Either way, nobody notices or bothers to investigate.
    • In Twin Snakes, the guards will be alerted if you shoot a camera, even with the silencer.
  • During the CIA escape in Mission Impossible 1997, you can disable cameras with spray paint.
  • In No One Lives Forever, guards actually will come check or sound the alarm if you just shoot out cameras... but it still has most of the other features.
  • Zig zagged in PAYDAY: The Heist. Most levels that have security cameras in them do nothing at all except aid the police in finding your location faster. During the heist in No Mercy, pulling out your guns will cause the alarm to be triggered in 7 seconds and if you are successful in destroying the cameras before that, then there is a chance that the hospital will send a repairman to inspect the cameras or send a security guard to see what is going on.
    • Averted in the sequel, where cameras will sound the alarm if you stay in its view for too long. The range and speed with which you are detected depends on your equipment, as with regular guards; a guy in a suit is much less suspicious than an armored clown carrying a light machinegun. Cameras will also raise the alarm if they see something odd, such as an alerted guard, panicking civilian, or a dead body. Shooting cameras is a legitimate strategy, but prompts the camera operator to send a guard to check it out. The guard will raise the alarm if he sees a broken camera, but you can also use this tactic to lure guards away so that you can dispose of them quietly. This is impossible on higher difficulties, as the cameras there are completely invulnerable. The ability for Camera Spoofing is necessary to blind these temporarily (it also works on the destructible cameras on lower difficulties). On most heists, you also have the option of taking out the camera operator (usually a guard, except on certain maps), which instantly disables all cameras. Finally, a basic ECM jammer briefly disables all cameras on the map.
  • Penumbra has you sneak around two rooms filled with green-glowing cameras while finding switches to unlock the exit. If you step into the camera's line of sight (it takes a second to happen), the room's puzzle resets and the camera seeing you briefly turns red.
    • Requiem does it even more harshly by releasing poisonous gas if you're seen even once on just one camera. However, you can break its power box with a rock (and even pick up the camera, since it falls when broken).
  • The 3rd palace in Persona 5 has security cameras that will immediately notify the shadows of your presence, all of which can be easily walked around or have a continent power box nearby that turns the cameras off when broken.
  • Portal subverts this by having the AI scold you every time you break a camera, and even has an achievement for breaking every breakable camera in the game. Unfortunately, doing this means you have to break them all in one full run without stopping. And sometimes the achievement doesn't appear after you get it.
  • Inverted in The Punisher for the Xbox. The Punisher leaves Spacker Dave at the security desk for Stark Industries, being that the nearby employees had been slaughtered by Yakuza. Dave kinda sorta helps the Punisher out with advice.
  • As of Resident Evil 2, we have the Licker. It is apparently smart enough to know the concept behind security cameras, and takes them out in its hunting ground.
  • In Second Sight, security cameras can ruin the stealth effect of your Charm power, since any guards watching the monitors are out of range of your telepathic influence. Your choices for dealing with the cameras include destroying them with Telekinesis (which doesn't attract attention from guards) or finding a terminal and deactivating the CCTV system (which nobody will bother to reactivate).
  • In Sensory Overload, security cameras are hemispherical and either shoot at you or sound an alarm to summon enemies from nearby rooms. Either way, they can be stealthily shot out with the Hollywood Silencer equipped.
  • In Splinter Cell, the cameras notice you almost instantly if they spot you, and a guard yells over the radio and sounds the alarm. However, the guard doesn't seem to notice if every single camera gets shot or disabled. Or, for the bullet proof ones, if the room suddenly goes dark or the feed is temporarily jammed. Later games in the series become more stringent: shooting cameras raises the alert level for guards, and new tools to temporarily disable cameras become available.
  • In SPY Fox 2: Some Assembly Required, Fox needs to steal something from one of the wax figures at a wax museum. In order to do so without being seen by the security camera, he must place a static image of the shot from the camera's angle in front of the camera so the security guard will not see that something has changed about the scene.
  • If a level in Stealth Bastard has a security camera, and it's meant to be solvable, this trope is in effect. (Occasionally, though, you're meant to trigger the camera in order to get something else to appear...)
  • System Shock 2 allows the player to hack into security camera systems, but only for a specific period of time. Consequently, a camera will flash yellow when it spots you, before flashing an alert red mode. One or two shots from most weapons are also enough to kill a security camera, whereupon what happens is... exactly nothing. Obviously the super-advanced AI controlling the ship doesn't care about losing cameras all over the place...
    • This is a justified trope, as the last time an AI cared about losing cameras all over the place in the game universe, it resulted in SHODAN. Newer A.I.s since that little "incident" were specifically programmed with weaknesses in case something like that ever happened again.
  • Justified in Thief II: The Metal Age. While the "cameras" are very noticeable in this way (being human faces with attached glowing crystals whose color signals their degree of confidence an intruder's present that hiss and click constantly as they move), the very concept of a security camera is a recent novelty and their makers see them as religious crafts as much as salable products. Their conspicuousness is quite likely a selling point. And they connect to other alarms and mechanisms rather than having human guards monitor them because their inventor is a religious crackpot who thinks his toys are more perfect than any living defense.
    • Arguably even a partial aversion, in that many have no off switch and, being large steampunky metal constructions, the only real way to get rid of them is to blow them up, which tends to attract a lot of unwanted attention.
  • TimeSplitters:
    • In TimeSplitters Future Perfect, the majority of the level Breaking and Entering has security cameras everywhere. A weapon is available at the beginning of the level that is the only thing capable of destroying it, alongside other security hardware such as tripwire batteries and turrets, plus the tough-as-nails security bots.
    • Similarly, in TimeSplitters 2, the Siberian Dam, Neotokyo streets and underground hideout, and the beginning of the Atomsmasher secret base all have security cameras. Shooting the lenses will instantly take them out of commission.
  • The Corpus facilities and spaceships in Warframe are full of security cameras which do little to provide security; They have a limited field of view which is clearly visible to players (this one might be attributed to Tenno augmentations), they can be destroyed without raising an alarm and if they actually spot the player, all they do is either turn on laser barriers (which can be bypassed by rolling) or activate weak turret guns, without alerting any guards in the area. They are marginally more dangerous in data vaults found in spy missions where they can activate Self-Destructing Security... which can take anywhere from few seconds to a full minute, still enough for an intruder to steal some valuable data.

    Visual Novels 
  • Defied in Danganronpa, where tampering with security cameras is punishable by death.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, apparently all Abraham needs to do in order to cover his departure from a museum at night is to destroy a few cameras magically. No alarm is raised and he is able to nonchalantly walk right out with nothing and nobody to stop him.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Parodied in this comic, where one of the Mooks starts to wonder why the security cameras in one particular hall are suddenly failing one right after the other. His superior isn't so dumb.
    • In a later storyline, Tagon's Toughs get hired to supplement a shopping mall's security staff. They find that the local thief ring uses cards with matrix barcodes on them to exploit a backdoor in the security camera's computer system. The solution? Buy a case of cheap off-the-shelf spycams from a spyshop in the mall to set up a second network. Then they discover that the thief ring in fact has their own set of spycams from the same shop to watch the Mall Security's goings on.
      Legs: I found thirty cameras that don't belong to us.
      Shodan: You missed two.
      Legs: How can you possibly know that?
      Shodan: These are the same brand we bought, and Sophiaware sells 'em in cases of thirty-two.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power, having observed earlier in the episode that "the Horde puts bombs in everything," Bow creates a distraction while sneaking into the Fright Zone by shooting an arrow at a security camera, which promptly explodes, attracting the guards away from the heroes.
  • In The Simpsons episode where Lisa is being bullied, she asks Groundskeeper Willie to see the security tapes. He looks flustered and says "Security tapes? There's no security tapes!" Lisa then points out the rather large security cameras, and Willie responds "Aye! I'm a stinkin' liar!"
    • Another episode revolves around an entire citywide system of security cameras with built-in loudspeakers, watched by volunteers (meaning Flanders).
      Ned: I'm Jiminy Cricket to the entire town!
  • Subverted in an episode of Stroker and Hoop when Stroker breaks into a pharmaceutical company by the classic method of knocking out a guard and stealing his uniform. Once inside, he is immediately apprehended by another guard who saw the whole thing on security camera. When Stroker gets indignant that the guard wasn't sleeping or watching a football game like he was supposed to be, the guard explains "I like my job".
  • In an episode of Teen Titans, while skulking through Slade's underground lair Beast Boy was able to turn into a mouse and unplug a wire in a security camera without a hitch.

    Real Life 
  • Taking advantage of Reality Is Unrealistic, some have started to set up dummy security cameras, that resemble the ones from the movies, and are significantly cheaper than the real thing. There are even real cameras that look like dummies, to fool criminals smart enough to spot a fake.
    • One Dilbert strip mocked these, with a fake security camera that is to be placed in the break room, so the engineers won't pilfer things, that is to be hidden so that the engineers won't know that the boss is pretending to watch them. Dilbert resolved this by throwing them in the trash.
      • One of the text books suggested using a fake camera, pointed at one's cubicle, in order to slack off, since bosses and peers would think that one would not slack off with a security camera pointed at them.
  • While Walmart and other large department stores do in fact have cameras, these cameras are not watched in real time. If you are ever in a Walmart and hear over the loudspeaker something along the lines of "Cameras scan areas 5, 6, and 7," this is simply a ploy to make possible shoplifters feel that they are being watched.
    • Don't get too excited. It's more factor of there being a LOT of cameras, too many to be watched all at once. There's still a guy in there watching the important ones. On the other hand, they're not allowed to actually touch you so... at Wal-Mart anyway.
      • The main purpose of security cameras is to record footage anyway, not to provide real-time surveillance. So if you do get caught of shoplifting or more serious crime, they'll have the footage to prove it. It's also to provide evidence if a customer sues...Wal-Mart at least is noted for vigorously defending all slip-and-fall suits, rather than settling or letting insurance handle it (like most grocery chains). They have a very good record of getting suits thrown out through the vigorous use of evidence and lawyering, so plaintiff's lawyers are loath to pursue the matter unless the facts are solidly on their side.
    • This isn't exclusive to Walmart, as many smaller stores don't have the resources to hire extra staff just to watch TV screens all day. In these cases, surveillance cameras are meant to provide evidence of break ins as well as help identify perpetrators.
    • Some stores have found that cameras are of limited deterrent value, and that having people watching the shoppers is more effective as a deterrent.
  • Some casinos and other private facilities will have very large video-gamey cameras, bright white and clearly visible. They are all real cameras really watching you: but mainly to distract you from noticing all the other cameras embedded in walls or cowlings covering the spots that you think are being missed, where you might surreptitiously stand while signaling your card counting partner or palming your phony chip stack... or phoning your guy in the parking lot when the lucky high roller is leaving for his car.
  • One type of camera popular with schools has an additional feature that allows it to track movement, a feature can be exploited to distract the camera from any actual crime.
  • As described in the book Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History, during the heist that stole over $100 million in diamonds from the Antwerp Diamond Center, the thieves simply stole the VHS tapes out of the security cameras that were recording them.
    • Nowadays many security companies offer offsite recording as a service, receiving the footage over the Internet in real time so that it can't be deleted by the perps on site. But that has a flaw of its own.
  • This bit of Banksy art.