Unfortunately, no, those fake security signs on your lawn don’t actually work

Published: Apr 11, 2015 at 08:46 UTC
Fake signs

You know those signs that homeowners place on their lawns that say “Home protected by [whatever company]”? To the ordinary person, they might seem pretty effective. You might think that burglars would see one of those signs on a lawn and move along to the next house.

If they did that, you could just get a fake sign as your “security system”, right? That would save you hundreds to thousands of dollars…

…but the truth is, burglars aren’t idiots, and these fake signs can actually lead to your home being closely watched by any burglar that does his homework.

Here’s why you should never put a fake security system sign on your lawn… as well as what might potentially happen if you do.


A security system means you have money

Right off the bat, this sign (which is usually a bright red or green) broadcasts a message to the world. Here’s the message that it more or less broadcasts:

“Hey world! Look at me! I’m a house… an expensive house… and I’m protected by an expensive security system! There’s valuable stuff inside me!”

Now in an ideal world, if all burglars were idiots, then they’d believe this message. But in reality, the ones that haven’t gotten caught yet – the ones out on the street and checking out your house – aren’t all that dumb.


How smart is your burglar?

Keep in mind that while you’re trying to prevent one single burglary, pro burglars are doing this every single day. They’re well aware that there are fake signs out in their territories.

Here’s what they do to check if you actually have a security system behind that sign…

Checking the name of the company

By and large, you cannot buy first-hand home security system signs from the actual security companies. They want you to buy the entire system… not just the sign. So they don’t sell them.

You can, of course, buy signs on Amazon or eBay claiming to protect your home. However, considering the manufacturers of these signs can’t include real company names (due to copyright), they make up fake security companies to slap on there.

Any rudimentary Google search will reveal that your security “company” is 100% fake. Even if you somehow manage to get a sign printed with a real company on it, burglars know exactly what that company’s official signs look like – they will come at night, grab your sign, inspect it with a flashlight, and see if there are any discrepancies.

(Security companies want to make sure that non-customers can’t use their signs, so it’s usually almost impossible to replicate them. Any flaws will be easily noticed.)

Yes, we know what you’re thinking – what if you buy a real sign from a homeowner who does have a security system? Surely then you’d be safe?

Setting off a basic safeguard

The details of every single company’s security systems are advertised to the public. You can find out exactly what they do and don’t do. The burglar, after driving by and seeing the sign on your lawn, will know which system he has to “test”.

He’ll test your security by doing something minor that should set off an alarm, and he’ll do something that he can get away from quickly. For example, he’ll sneak up in the night… grab your front door’s handle… and jam it in as hard as he possibly can. Then, he’ll sprint off into the night at full speed.

If you had a real security system, an alarm would automatically sound. But with your fake sign, an alarm isn’t going to sound, and he’s going to know that you don’t have a security system.


If he realizes it’s fake, you’re done for

When you have no sign on your lawn, burglars have no idea if you have a security system or not. You’re lumped in with the other houses on your street, and unless there’s something to draw the burglar to your house specifically (an open window, etc.), the chances of him picking your house at random are very slim.

On the other hand, when you have a fake sign on your lawn and a burglar realizes this fact, you’ll be the only house that he targets. After all, those other houses without signs might still have security systems, but yours is a safe bet.

He’ll learn when you’re out of the house (by watching your movements from afar) and break in when you’re away for an extended period of time.

Or he’ll be dumb and break in when you’re home… which puts not only your possessions, but also you in harm’s way.

Don’t use a fake sign. You’re opening yourself up to a robbery from a burglar with even half of a brain. After all, you personally (although we know you’re not a robber) learned how to test for a fake security system on this page in about five minutes… what to say actual burglars don’t have this knowledge as well?


A better alternative: motion-sensor lights

Obviously, the best solution is a full home security system. If you get one, you’re protected – period.

But motion-sensor lights are the next best thing. You can install some for under $100 and have a very minor line of defense for your household.

If you live in a busy street, this can sometimes be enough to deter criminals from entering your property. If the burglar is determined to rob your house specifically, they won’t do anything, but if he’s on the prowl looking for houses, this can be enough to make him pass over yours and continue onto the next one.

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