Do fake yard signs actually deter burglars?

Do fake yard signs actually deter burglars?

house with an EPS sign out front

house with an EPS sign out frontYou’ve seen them when you’re walking your dog or driving to work—a yard sign or window decal emblazoned with the logo of a name-brand security company. Much like the “BEWARE OF DOG” signs popular in the past, yard signs especially are high-profile warnings to would-be intruders declaring, “This home is protected by a professionally monitored security system.”

Most security companies provide yard signs to provide their customer with a high-visibility deterrent and, of course, let neighbors know that they’re available to protect their homes, too. While many of these yard signs are legitimate, the use of fake alarm system yard signs has grown in popularity in recent years. The logic behind this trend is that a burglar wouldn’t likely risk a break-in at a home that may be under surveillance or the protection of an alarm system. Additionally, with counterfeit yard signs selling online for only $10 to $20 dollars a pop, proponents of the practice figure it is a cheaper alternative to what they view as expensive alarm installations.

Like most shortcuts, there are a few truths and many falsities underneath the surface of the fake yard sign theory. As research shows, yard signs in general can act as a mild deterrent against break-ins but can provide a false sense of security against career burglars more apt to do their homework before committing a crime.

broken doorYard signs work, but…

Firstly, to acknowledge the truth of the concept: yes, yard signs do act as deterrents against burglary. A UNC Charlotte study of convicted burglars indicates that nearly 40% of surveyed offenders factored yard signs into their decision-making process. 40% is nothing to sneeze at and, at first glance, seems to support the “fake yard sign” practice. However, the phrasing should be noted: 40% of offenders factored the signs into their process. They act as a deterrent, but not as a fail-safe preventative method. Some amount of those burglars would consider the risk and continue with their plan anyways, leaving those with fake yard signs and no working security system incredibly vulnerable.

The study also indicates that career burglars with experience are more likely to plot their crimes more methodically. More “successful” burglars—those more likely to successfully carry out a string of burglaries—are quite aware of the “fake sign” phenomenon. For one, most of the signs sold online by third parties are aesthetically different than the ones sold by security companies to avoid copyright issues. While the changes may be minimal, if anyone’s going to notice the differences, it’s going to be someone who spends an unusual amount of time looking at alarm company signage.

What’s more, a staggering 83% of burglars admit to attempting to determine whether an alarm system is installed before making a move on a house. While some may take a yard sign at its word, career burglars—those more apt to sneak in undetected and make off with the most valuable of your belongings—are more likely to actual inspect a house from the outside before making a decision. In fact, it’s a fairly common practice for burglars to case homes in broad daylight simply by ringing the doorbell to determine if a homeowner is there and to peek into their front windows.

Another problem with fake yard signs is that their false sense of security may actually put a home at risk for repeat burglaries. A recent study estimates that as many as 33% of all burglaries are actually repeat offenses that take place within a month or two after the initial burglary. If a burglar calls your fake sign bluff and breaks into your house, you’re statistically more likely to be broken into again, especially if that yard sign remains your only deterrent the second time around.

True deterrence with alarm systems

In 2017, 1.5 million homes were burglarized to the tune of over $2,000 in property loss and damage on average. In fact, it’s estimated a home is broken into every 13 seconds In the face of such odds, those placing the protection of their homes, belongings, and families into a solitary fake yard sign may wind up paying more in the long run in damages and losses than by simply buying a home security system. And despite what many “fake sign” enthusiasts think, an effective security system in the average home costs on par or even a little less than the average cost of a home burglary.

Alarm systems have proven time and again to be the best deterrent against burglary. The same UNC Charlotte study puts hard data to the claim, as 60% of burglars surveyed factored visible cameras into their decision to break into a residence or not—a full 20% more than those who claimed to be deterred by yard signs. The most persuasive data? A full 60% of burglars also claimed that the confirmed presence of an actual alarm system would cause them to select a different target flat-out. While a yard sign, real or otherwise, may help you feel more secure about your home, only a functioning, professionally monitored alarm system both deters and detects burglars and protects your home and everything within.

EPS van parked in a house's drivewayWhy not both?

At the end of the day, yard signs are a helpful tool for deterring burglary threats, but only with an alarm system to back it up. Protect your home and family with a home security solution that fits both your needs and your budget by working with EPS Security. Our skilled engineers, security consultants, and technicians will work with you to devise a solution both feared by intruders and loved by your family for its convenience and ability to instill real peace of mind. Let us use our 65 years of local experience to protect what matters most to you—and, yes, if you’re interested, we do provide our customers with yard signs.

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