Let’s face it: Home security systems can be expensive. While they provide an invaluable service to homeowners, some people simply can’t spare the installation fees or monthly expense. In fact, only 17% of American homes have a working security system. But there is a budget-friendly way that many homeowners turn to as a way to deter criminals: fake security signs.
You can place a fake security sign in your front yard even if you don’t have a system. They go for as little as $10 online. It’s an easy and certainly cheap way to give the appearance of a secured home. Why do so many homeowners think this is something worth doing? The Electronic Security Association estimates 60% of burglars are deterred by the presence of an alarm system. But there are several factors to consider before installing fake security signs in your yard.
The risks to installing fake security signs
While this thrifty idea may seem like a no-brainer, there are some rules you should follow if you decide to use a fake security sign. Before purchasing any for your home, make sure you consider the cons to going this route.
Using an unauthorized security sign from a real company could land you in legal trouble
Although you can find stickers online to purchase from the major home security companies, you aren’t allowed to use them in your yard without the system. Believe it or not, you could run into some copyright issues if you post a sign without using that particular security service. Think twice before purchasing home security signs with a real company logo on them. Companies even limit customers to a certain number of signs per year to protect against faulty security signs.
Burglars can spot a fake security sign
When considering a fake sign for your yard, think about the fact that burglars have Google too. It is pretty simple for a thief to figure out if the name on your security signs is an actual company. If you do buy a fake sign, make sure it looks professional and real, but understand that burglars have probably seen this trick before.
Fake security signs provide no real protection
Officer James Banta, Security Nerd expert and a former investigator with the Biloxi Police Department, says fake signs are likely a waste of your time. “I have worked plenty of burglaries where there is a fake sign out front. If somebody wants to get in, they aren’t going to be paying attention to your sign anyway,” Banta said.
More importantly, if a burglary does take place, you’ll have no footage of the perpetrator to bring to police.
Having a false sense of security can be dangerous
Buying a fake security sign might lull you into a false sense of security and you could find yourself forgetting to do the more simple things that keep robberies from happening, such as locking up and turning on lights outside. Make sure that you continue to close your garage door, lock your windows and doors and keep an eye out for suspicious activity around your neighborhood. If you do purchase a fake sign, it should just be an added layer of protection to your usual security routine.
Six smart alternatives to fake security signs
No matter what your budget is, there are some great security options that can help keep your home safe and thwart potential burglaries.
Hire a real security company
While the initial investment and monthly expenses of a home security system can seem daunting, look at it as an insurance policy for your belongings. These systems provide a real way to alert the police when someone is breaking in. After they’re installed, home security systems can range anywhere from $15-$60 a month on average. That’s a lot less than losing thousands of dollars in belongings or having a thief make off with priceless family treasures that can never be replaced. Banta says many of the thieves he arrested after burglarizing a home admitted they cased the house first. “They would always tell me they would watch the house first to make sure nobody was home,” Banta said.
If someone has been casing your home and is determined to break in, a fake security sign isn’t going to do anything to deter them. In those cases, having a real security system is your best bet.
Check out our picks for the best security systems
Install motion-detection lights
Although burglaries do happen in broad daylight, bad guys mostly strike at night. Adding motion-detection lights can scare a potential burglar away. Placing these lights near entryways and even by your bedroom window can alert you when someone is nearby. Thieves can be spooked by the light and decide to move on to another house where no one is on high alert. Most burglaries happen when no one is home, so even giving the false illusion that someone is home could possibly foil a burglary in progress.
Install fake security cameras
This may seem like a similar idea to adding fake security signs to your yard. But adding a fake camera to your home may scare a thief away. These fake cameras can look very real, and are a fraction of the cost of an actual security camera. You can even find one with blinking red lights for extra effect. Do make sure you consider the risks of installing these fake cameras.
Add window and door alarms
Another relatively cheap tactic you can employ to keep your home safe is adding window and door alarms. Sure, you might not have an actual security system, but the person breaking into your house doesn’t know that. Just the sound of an alarm could be enough to run them off. If they are breaking in while someone is home, you will hear an alarm and know to call the police. If it’s during the day while no one is home, you can hope the sound will be enough to alert neighbors or scare off the intruders. Sliding glass doors are particulrly tricky, so be sure to address those.
Invest in a smart lock
Take advantage of new technology by adding a smart lock to your doors. Some even have number pads on them, which signals to the would-be thief that you mean business when it comes to securing your home. Another added benefit to many smart locks? You can actually be alerted when someone unlocks your door. Aside from the added security, you can forget the hassle if you ever lock your keys in the car or need to get an extra set to your family.
Use a barking security system
Fido can be more than your best friend in these types of situations. Dogs can make enough noise barking to either alert you to an intruder or signal to neighbors there could be a problem. In fact, dogs have often been an integral part of catching burglars in the act. Aside from all the amazing benefits a family dog can give your family, you can add security guard to the list.
Taking precautions pays off
It’s estimated that as many as 41% of burglars choose a home based on a spur of the moment decision. Even if an actual home security system isn’t in the cards for you right now, home security signs and other simple and cost-effective deterrents can be effective enough to make a thief consider moving on to the next home. While a monitored system is your best bet in home security, staying vigilant and using common sense safety measures like these can make a huge difference.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.