Why Home Security Signs Could Actually Get You Robbed

Home security signs seem like a surefire way to make potential burglars pass by your house. But unfortunately, they could end up backfiring.

There are all sorts of things you can do to make your home a little safer from potential burglars. Some of the things that might jump out in your mind are getting a dog or installing motion-sensor lights. Another possibility is putting up signs that have a logo for a security company or say “Protected by” a certain company. Whether they’re true, and you do have the security system in place, or not, you’d think such a security warning would make burglars quake in their boots. But some security experts warn that having these signs can actually backfire, potentially making your house more likely to get robbed.

Let’s look at the upside first. You shouldn’t immediately write off these signs as thief magnets, because that’s far from the truth. One of the secrets burglars won’t tell you is that burglars choose the “path of least resistance”—they look for a house that seems like it could be an easy target. If the yard looks unkempt, your mail is piling up, or you’ve clearly got a window cracked open, those are signs of a more lax homeowner and a less protected house. On the flip side, signs that your house is very secure can be enough to turn a thief away. And, yes, literal signs could fall into this category.

“That sign will turn inexperienced and ‘spur-of-the-moment’ home burglars the other way,” says Joshua Carlson, Owner of Treasured Spaces. “They don’t know what to do if they set an alarm off, and it’s not worth finding out if you do have one or are just bluffing.” Such inexperienced burglars do commit many burglaries.

But when it comes to more experienced burglars, yes, the signs could present a problem. “Professional burglars won’t be intimidated by such a sign,” Carlson warns. “They have more than likely learned the intricacies associated with disarming that system. It could very well backfire and result in a burglar who knows your security system selecting your home for their robbery.”

Another potential risk comes from the fact that burglars can be people who’ve been to your house before, like a house cleaner or delivery worker. In that case, the person likely will know if the sign is a fake. If it is, they’re home free.

And finally, there’s the possibility that signs won’t necessarily help or hurt your chances of getting robbed. Instead, they just won’t make a difference at all. “We all know people who canceled their alarm system contract over a decade ago yet still keep the signs up,” says Jon Knight, CSO of Fortified Estate. “The criminals know this too.” And, of course, criminals also know that some of these signs are totally fake. Whether that’s a risk they’re willing to take depends on the criminal.

So it’s really a matter of personal preference. One thing you can do is consult your local law enforcement and see if they think getting a sign would be worthwhile. Another is to carefully research any security system before you install it, trying to find out how common it is and how easily it might be cracked. Overall, there are more effective ways of deterring burglars. Using a strong network of cameras, making sure they’re visible to passersby, and putting them in these places smart homeowners install security cameras will most likely be a more effective way to keep burglars out. Stay safe–here’s how to outsmart a mugger. 

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for RD.com since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.