Apparently a cardboard cut-out of a police officer seems to have the same effect on thieves as does a scarecrow on birds.
A simple life-size cardboard cutout of a police officer was placed at a subway and bus station in Cambridge, Massachusetts to watch over bike racks. The faux officer was an image of a real transit officer with imposing features. The picture of the officer seemed like a real threat to thieves as its presence was enough to make the thieves think twice about taking off with a bike. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority says the cardboard cop, along with other security upgrades, including video cameras, has made a real difference. Bike thefts went down 67%!
Another account from the other side of the world supports having faux police officers on the watch. In the UK, local resident Deborah Wilson assembled a scarecrow and dressed it in what looked like a traffic cop’s jacket. She positioned her makeshift guard on the road where traffic cops with hand-held speed guns often stand. The dummy was holding up what could easily be mistaken for a speed camera.
Constable Pat Jenner says in an interview: ” To see trucks, cars and vans slowing down because they think it is an traffic enforcement officer is amazing. People are going slow past it when they see it. I think there should be more up the road to slow the traffic down even more.”
A supermarket in Shafton, Barnsley used a life-sized cardboard cutout of a police officer as a “scarecrow” of sorts to curb retail theft, thereby reducing in-store incidents by 75%. Retail theft is not only stealing items from a store without paying for them, but also includes attempts to avoid paying full price by switching higher price tags with lower priced items.
Even if the cardboard cutout doesn’t ask for a paycheck or any health benefits, a human uniform guard may be more useful. In fact the cardboard placed in the supermarket was stolen and its photos have appeared on social networking sites, and it has appearing at several local house parties! An Essex Police spokesman said: “The trial of the cardboard police officers shows they had very little effect on crime or antisocial behaviour and we will not be continuing with their use.”