Security mirrors: Serve and Protect

If you've ever wondered what those dome-shaped mirrors in stores everywhere signified, they're for protection. Not yours unfortunately, rather protection from you, in case that recessive kleptomania gene kicks in when shopping. These sentinels of seeing around corners are actually a part of a bigger initiative called RLP, or retail loss prevention (not an overly creative description but adequate, so they feel). It's also called asset protection – kind of like CYA (in this case, cover your assets), but in a nice, anti-felony kind of way. Mostly relegated to convenience stores nowadays, these convex security reflectors were once a store investigator's best friend, and allowed him to surreptitiously monitor "high theft" areas in large stores. Now however, if you see them at these types of stores, they're usually there to extend the field of vision for security cameras rather than to be used directly. Another popular type of security mirror, one that can be seen in police interrogation rooms across the world, is the two-way mirror. When there's bright light on the reflective side, and darkness or minimal lighting on the other, it acts as a mirror on the bright side and a window on the other. This is probably the classic use of a security mirror, but there are several that you know but probably never gave much thought to.

Security mirrors: My God they're all over the place!

Old ATMs sometimes have these security mirrors installed so you can see what's going on behind you. It's a simple security feature but quite effective for using a hole-in-the-wall in crime-prone areas. It has been known to prevent muggings at cash machines at several locations – an aware would-be victim is a forewarned one. After all, it really is in the bank's interest to protect their customers.

The other place where these security mirrors come in handy is on the upper border of your monitor screen. If you're really quick with the Alt-Tab function on your keyboard, your boss might never catch you goofing off at work! But then again, there's always the remote monitoring facility so you may get that memo after all – might be a good idea to actually work 40 or so hours each week and save the Facebook and Twitter titbits for the weekend. In these situations, you might call them "job security" mirrors!

Sometimes, security mirrors are used at gas stations by owners who want to keep tabs on those using the far side of the pumps. The 180-degree field of vision that these mirrors provide is extremely useful for this type of surveillance, and decrease the liklihood of an individual disgruntled over high gas prices making off with a tank of the stuff without paying for it.

Personal uses for Security Mirrors

Security mirrors are often used not for security in terms of crime, but in terms of personal safety. This is probably a more popular use of convex or diverging mirrors. Let's take a look at a few life-saving situations that are made possible by using them.

Security mirrors are commonly used as traffic mirrors to help avoid fender benders at blind corners. The visibility they afford lets drivers see around the corner and watch for on-coming vehicles; they're often used in warehouses, underground parking areas and street corners where the presence of a building may impede vision. An interesting similar use for security mirrors is found in regions where land is scarce and houses are built on the edges of major roadways. Security mirrors are used at the end of driveways so homeowners can see whether there is any oncoming traffic past their own fence when trying to back out - outside Honolulu, Hawaii is one place you'll see this practice.

They're also used inside vehicles, usually above the rear-view mirror so that parents can keep an eye on their kids when driving. Apparently, internal distractions while driving are one of the leading causes of road accidents – parents turning around to check on or yell at their kids, losing sight of the road during that critical split-second just before an accident.

Security mirrors are often used outside large vehicles such as school buses so that the driver can see what's going on under the front bumper and at the sides. This use of mirrors is reported to have saved many hundreds of under-aged lives. You'll also find semi trailers and other large box trucks have these mirrors to increase their field of view and eliminate blind spots. Motorcyclists all over the world can be thankful for the presence of these mirrors!

So how much will I pay for security mirrors?

While glass convex mirrors of the full-dome variety can be relatively inexpensive – in the range of $150 for a 32-inch dome – acrylic mirrors are priced considerably higher; a similar-sized mirror could cost you $250 and up. However, the acrylic ones are more suitable for outdoor use and are usually light-weight, while being weather and chemical resistant. Steel dome mirrors are also common in food processing areas where wood, glass and synthetic products aren't allowed. These are slightly on the higher side where cost is concerned – an 18-inch mirror costs about $135 or so.

The small convex mirrors used on vehicles cost much less, often in the $25-$50 range, though it will vary slightly depending on size and material. If you shop around, you should have no problem finding a cheap security mirror for under $50.

Where can I find cheap security mirrors?

Security mirrors can be found in many online stores. The material they're made from affects both their durability and price. Fortunately, you can find some very cheap security mirrors online. Amazon stocks a number of security mirrors appropriate for use in retail stores and for vehicle use. These range from as small as 12 inches in diameter to as wide as The Pro-Safe CV-18 18-inch diameter convex security mirror costs $35, and is about the "halfway point" in terms of prices you'll find.