You’ve probably walked past your neighbor’s yard and wondered if those fake security signs they’re sporting actually work as deterrents. Can you just slap a home security alarm company’s sticker on your window and keep potential thieves at bay? The answer is yes.
Home security signs of any sort can work to discourage burglary. Until they don’t.
A study conducted by the University of North Carolina interviewed hundreds of professional thieves and found that more than 60% of them said evidence of a security system led them to select an easier target.1 Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story.
Because, while getting a cheap yard sign off eBay takes minimal effort on your part, it also has some clear drawbacks.
It’s like waving a gigantic red flag that says “the good stuff is in here.” Having a security system or evidence of one, especially in certain neighborhoods, could pique interest in your valuables.
You want your sign to look real, but there’s a fine line. If you get one from an actual company, burglars familiar with how to disarm its particular security measures might see your home as fair game.
Faking it is a big risk to take. In 74% of home robberies where there were alarms, burglars fled without committing theft. Property loss is also significantly less in homes with security alarms. On average, homeowners with alarms lost $3,266 versus in a home burglary versus the national average of $5,343.
As more and more homeowners opt to use fake signs, this commonplace strategy is becoming less of a deterrent. Call it the boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome.
The United States leads the world in most robberies per capita, with a burglary once every fifteen seconds. Home burglaries make up 19.8% of property crime, and more than 60% involved forced entry. You may assume you’re getting away cheap by advertising a security system without actually investing in one, but once you’ve been the victim of a robbery, you’ll feel differently. The thousands of dollars of valuables you’ve lost will no longer make that bare bones yard sign seem like such a great bargain.
The Benefits and Risks of Using Fake Security Signs
Pros:We’ll start with the good news. There are a number of benefits of faking a home security system, including:
The most obvious benefit of using yard signs and window decals instead of a security system is that it’s much cheaper. Purchasing yard signs and stickers with home security logos will only set you back about $10, and many of the most popular security brands’ logos can be purchased online.
Time Investment. It only takes a few minutes to slap stickers on your doors and windows and stick a yard sign outside your house. You won’t break a sweat with this burglary precaution.
It could work. Depending on whether or not you have a brazen or gun-shy burglar, this method could actually work. “Could” is the operative word here, but faking it might be enough to spook some intruders.
Cons: You’ve probably heard that “you get what you pay for.” By faking a home security system presence, we’d say that that saying applies to you. Consider the following risks before you test your luck with fake signage:
Signs may be unconvincing. Fake security system signs may display brands that sound and/or look fake, or display no brand at all. If you’re actually going to go this route, make sure it’s looks the part.
You can be outsmarted. Smart thieves can Google the company displayed on your fake signs and verify their authenticity. If it looks bogus to them, your cover will be blown.
You could get into legal trouble. There are possible legal ramifications for unauthorized use of copyrighted material, so make sure you’re not infringing on a company’s name before you use it on your home.
Nothing will happen if your home is broken into. If you have a home security system, it will alert you and the monitoring center of the breach. Without it, the burglar will call your bluff pretty quickly and make off with your belongings.
Alternatives to Fake Signs
Faking a home security system is as barebones as you can get—and as risky. Luckily, there are some middle-of-the-road options as far as security and cost go and full-out home security systems that can help keep you safe. Here are some options to consider before you go the fake sticker route:
Install a home security system.
Not only does a legitimate home security system protect your home and loved ones against break-ins, it can also alert authorities to other emergencies such as fires, flooding, and power outages. It can of course prevent theft too.Home security systems come with cameras that thieves can see—and see them—and alarms that make a commotion. Some security systems also include 24 hour monitoring, and even have guarantees that cover your home in the case of a break in. By purchasing a home security system, you’ll be opting into the most protection and will hopefully be able to scare thieves off before they break into your home and do any damage. To compare features of different security systems, check out our rankings of the Best Home Security Systems – 2017.
Get a dog.
Dogs are the original security system and have been called man’s best friend for centuries for a reason. A reliable deterrent to intruders, even small dogs can make enough noise to scare away an attempted burglar.Plus, having a dog can improve your health! Studies show pet owners are far less likely to suffer from depression than individuals without pets. So Sparkles can add to your health, wellness, and safety in a number of ways.
While it may be tempting to plant bushes or shrubs directly below windows for additional privacy and aesthetic, it gives thieves a place to hide out while casing or evaluating your home. Weed out tall or thick plants so you have clear lines of sight to all windows and doors on your property. If a thief feels nervous that they might be caught, they probably will pass you by.
Put up motion detecting outdoor lights.
Nothing makes burglars run faster than bright lights flooding the cover of darkness. If you have exterior doors or windows that are hidden from view of the street, consider installing motion sensing lights. This doesn’t require a full-fledged home security system and motion sensing lights can be purchased for a pretty cheap sum. On Amazon, you can find motion-sensing flood lights for $15 and up. Find the one that’s right for you by comparing motion sensing lights with the help of our guide.
Install window and door alarms.
Again, you don’t have to break the bank to enhance your home’s security. You can buy battery operated, motion-sensing alarms to put on your windows and doors for as little as $10 a piece. If an intruder tries to open a window or door when they’re armed, they’ll be in for a loud surprise. At night, it will wake you up so you can call the cops. During the day, it will cause thieves to flee since their cover will be blown.
Put in smarter locks.
Locks involve so much more than a key these days. You can buy a smart lock that allows you to make sure your home is secure while you’re away. With a corresponding app, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere. If your kids forget a key and need to get in, you can help them get back inside. If you think you forgot to lock up, you can make sure you did or arm the door from your smart device. Some smart locks even alert you when the door has been unlocked, so you know exactly who is coming and going from your home.As to be expected, this technology isn’t cheap. Most smart locks start at about $175, but they will give you convenience and peace of mind.
Install fake security cameras.
This method is along the same lines as having fake home security signs, but it might be enough to keep intruders away. You can actually buy fake security cameras on Amazon starting at around $10 and help deter burglars from coming into your home. They look like real security cameras and even have red blinking lights to add to the charade. However, just like with fake security signs, burglars might realize you’re faking a home security system and break in anyways. It’s just a cheap and easy idea to consider if you don’t want to invest in other security measures. If you decide to try this, put up fake security cameras by your doors and on visible points like your garage where potential thieves can see them.
Look like you’re home.
It’s not likely that someone will want to break into your home if they think you’re there. Park in the driveway instead of the garage to show thieves that you are around (even if you’re on vacation). Leave a light on at night that can be seen through a window. You can even buy smart lights that turn on at certain times to make it look like you’re home when you’re not.
Investment in additional security measures doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Many companies offer DIY kits, and you can put together your own system from components on Amazon if you have the expertise and technical know-how. Because 34% of all thieves come through your front door, small common sense measures—like installing door sensors or getting a security camera — can reap big benefits without taking a chunk out of your monthly budget.
In fact, most homeowners report that they’re pleased overall with the additional steps they’ve taken to secure their homes. Among people with home alarm systems, 94% say they’re happy with their system, and 93% report satisfaction with the home security company they use. 2So along with putting up signs, consider investing in a few simple security devices. You’ll reap thousands of dollars of savings if you do get robbed, and you’ll have something you can’t put a price on: the satisfaction of a secure home.
Worried that faking it with a sign is too big a risk to take? Check out the Top 10 Home Security Providers we recommend at SafeWise— where we do the research, so you don’t have to.
Written by Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family. Learn more