Rent-a-Props: Fake Men Fighting Real Crime

1509History has proved some tried-and-true methods of protecting one’s stuff. You can put something in safe so no one can steal it. You can encrypt your digital information so that no one can read it. And apparently, now businesses can protect customers’ stuff by way of a life-size cardboard cutout security guard. Oh really.

Paper rent-a-cops (or as I like to call them, rent-a-props) are showing up in storage facilities, jewelry stores and many other businesses that can’t afford break-ins (much less the hiring of a real cop) so they shell out $14 for a fake cop who trembles at the site of a recycling bin. Truly, nothing says security like a lifeless but very serious and large photo of a man who may or may not also have a paper gun.

Are these things really deterring crime? What do bad guys think when they see them? I suppose that if you’re scoping out a joint from, like, a mile away, the cutout could fool you. But surely even stupid bad guys would notice the security man hasn’t moved for 15 minutes and has either died standing up or is piece of cardboard. Either way, this is an encouraging opportunity to break in.

But some bad guys don’t scope out a joint first. They just go in without even considering there could be a security guard waiting for them. And then with two arms full of jewelry they run into—uh-oh—the stiff, biodegradable board man—and probably knock him over.

It’s just comical these things are growing in popularity. What business owner sees their neighbor doing it and actually covets their newfound crime prevention tactic?  “Whoa! Ed’s got one of those prop-up security guy thingys! Nobody’s gonna mess with his stuff anymore. I just have to get my own big, paper policeman. In fact, I’ll do Ed one better and upgrade to the officer with a menacing scowl!”

The bottom line is that unless our perpetrator has an inordinate fear of paper cuts, I’m pretty sure he is going breach this line of defense with little more than a chuckle. But what do I know? I am as law-abiding as they come and have little clue what I would find troubling if I was primed to do some bad guy stuff. Even so, I’d like my chances against an adversary I could crumple up in four seconds and stuff into a dumpster.

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