You want to protect your home, but you're not ready to commit to a home security system. Can you buy a few fake decals and pop them on your windows and in your yard to scare potential criminals away? It might work on some thieves, but not all of them.
While some thieves might be willing to believe your signs and pass by your house, these decals can send the wrong message to a savvy criminal. To an experienced thief, a fake signal is an open invitation to break into your home.
If protection is important and money is very tight, fake decals might be better than nothing. But for full protection, you'll need to invest in a home security system.
Is there a benefit to using fake security signs?
Professional security companies give you window decals, door stickers and yard signs. They are designed to advertise the company, and burglars should avoid your home due to your enhanced vigilance. Fake decals are meant to give you the same deterrent, at a fraction of the price.
It's no secret that burglaries are both common and expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 71 percent of all robberies are residential. The average family loses more than $2,300 in an incident like this.
Budget-conscious families may leap at the opportunity to cut those costs by purchasing decals and yard signs for $50 (or less) and suggesting they have a system they don't have.
Fake decals also let families skip the hassle of installation. They'll avoid the noise and confusion of workers hammering away in their homes, and it won't take weeks to get started. As soon as the signs are purchased, they can be put to use.
Given the cost savings and the reduced hassle, it's easy to see why anyone would be tempted to use fake products rather than real solutions. Sometimes, it's a reasonable solution.
But, fake signs can be risky
Before you run out and buy decals and signs for your home, it's important to remember that criminals can be savvy professionals. Your attempt at deception may not fool them, and you may increase your risk of enduring a crime as a result.
Security decals and signs are available through:
- Hardware stores
- Big-box stores
- Internet retailers
- Thrift shops
Most fake signs have one thing in common: They feature the information of an equally imaginary security company.
Most large, well-known security companies protect their brands with copyright. They don't allow just anyone to use their company colors, logos, and taglines. Fake sign companies that want to stay in business look for workarounds, and those are easy for criminals to spot.
A potential burglar can spot your sign and look for information about your security company. If that search leads your crook to a page selling fake signs like the one on your house, that person knows you're lying. You've just told a thief that you have something valuable you want to protect, and you have no security system to offer that protection.
Once a potential burglar realizes that you have a fake decal, nothing is stopping them from focusing on your home to determine when you're gone. Your house could even become a frequent stop for this criminal, as the person will come back to steal more when your insurance payment arrives and you replace what's missing.
Crooks can also just test your system. They can push or twist on your doorknob, and then wait for an alarm bell to sound. An Oregon news station found that most intruders would leave the home right away if an alarm sounded.
What else can you try?
While fake decals and signs can be intriguing, they don't always work. That doesn't mean you must leave your home unprotected. There are plenty of steps you can take to enhance your security, and some options don't cost a great deal of money.
- Get a dog. Big, barking canines work as exceptional crime-prevention tools. They can also make you feel a little safer when you're at home.
- Consider your landscaping. Keep bushes, trees and other plants from blocking doors and windows.
- Turn on a light. Thieves like to work in the dark. Keep your yard illuminated, so it's harder for anyone to hide.
- Make it noisy. A murmuring radio or television suggests that you're at home and can help deter a crime.
- Investing in a real security system may also be wise. Consumer Affairs says about 60 percent of criminals believe that cameras and surveillance are useful deterrent tools.
A complete system that provides alarms, cameras, and ongoing monitoring offers you the best chance at blocking a crime before it begins.
If money is tight, some companies offer you the opportunity to offset installation costs. That means you can pay one monthly fee for both monitoring and installation, and you might be willing to squeeze that into your budget. Look for a security company that offers deals on security equipment so you don't have to buy your own equipment upfront.
If you're hoping to protect what you have now and keep criminals away from your home and your assets, it pays to be smart. Don't cheat with cheap solutions. Protect what is yours with a system that truly works.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do fake decals really work? Not always. Fake decals and signs do not fool some crooks. When they spot the deception, they know you have no protection at all.
- What happens if my home gets broken into? If you're using fake security signs, you're not protected by a home security company. Companies that sell fake signs don't offer a guarantee that you won't experience a burglary.
- Will I get an insurance discount? No. Most insurance companies provide a discount on homeowners insurance if you install a complete security system. They won't do the same if you use fake decals and signs.
- Are security systems worth the cost? A security system will cost more than a set of fake signs. But interviews with criminals suggests that most thieves will run from the sound of an alarm and the sight of a camera. They don't say the same things about fake signage.
2015 Crime in the United States: Burglary. U.S. Department of Justice.
(June 2018). How to Deter Burglars. Consumer Affairs.