Nothing Worth Stealing
August 5, 2014 9:46 AM   Subscribe

We just moved into a new home, and though you wouldn't know it from the neighborhood or the house, which are very nice aesthetically, the inside of our home is sparse and we don't have the latest technology or anything of real value. There is honestly nothing worth stealing in our home, and the expense of cleaning up after a home invasion/robbery would cost more than the value of any items that could be stolen from us. A coworker suggested putting up a sign.

Coworker showed me a template for a quarter-sheet laminated sign to put at the front and back doors. Basically:

{symbol of TV with x-out} No LCD-TV
{symbol of laptop with x-out} No laptops
{symbol of game controller with x-out} No PS3/xbox
{clip-art of baby in bassinet} {clip-art of crosshairs}

Those with insight into the criminal mind, would something like that cause a would-be burglar to think twice before breaking in? I get that breaking into houses is a value proposition based on how much they can get for the stuff they steal balanced with the risk of doing so. Our house would be a bad value for a robber. If a sign would effectively protect our home from being broken into, I'd be willing to put it at points of ingress/egress.
posted by juniperesque to Home & Garden (58 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if it wouldn't be more useful to leave your curtains/blinds open during the day, so potential burglars can look inside and see for themselves that there's nothing worth stealing? Putting up a sign that you have nothing worth stealing might make someone think you're really trying to conceal that you do have something worth stealing.

ETA: Maybe install a cheap, very visible fake security camera. Anything to make your house seem not worth the effort/risk.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 9:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

Um. I guess it wouldn't hurt anything but your sense of aesthetics, but is this a serious risk in your new neighborhood? Perhaps check with your neighbors or your local crime stats or even local police on how common residential break-ins are in your area.

Your best bet for keeping potential burglars out is, quite seriously, to keep your doors and windows locked. Burglars are more likely just to be checking doors as they go than to do any kind of risk/reward calculation on a given target.
posted by asperity at 9:51 AM on August 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Are home invasions/robberies common where your home is? I mean, this is a cutesy idea, but I'm not sure what the goal is. If anyone genuinely wanted to break into your home, I am not sure such a sign would deter them.
posted by mikeh at 9:52 AM on August 5, 2014

I live in a moderate neighborhood (built in the late '40s, early '50s, our house is 768 square feet, most others have been upgraded to be a little larger), the two incidents in surrounding blocks in the six years that we've lived here have been outsiders rifling detached garages and stealing plants/yard fixtures in the early morning hours.

Unless you're in a pretty shady neighborhood, I suspect both that a home invasion would be rare, and that signs have little actual impact on those who'd rifle through your belongings.

As El Sabor Asiatico says, it's easy to lie on signs, no thief wants to encounter a human anyway, and if they can see that there's nothing inside they'll move to another place.
posted by straw at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think a sign like that is more of an invitation or challenge than anything else. Have good locks, good lighting, and pay attention to your street when you come in or go out. Join Neighborhood Watch.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2014 [25 favorites]

I can't imagine a sign ever working ever.

The single best thing to "display" would be a lightbulb on a timer.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

You're joking, right? What makes you think a thief would believe such a sign. All you're doing is calling attention to your home and providing your neighbors with a blight.

You could get an alarm company sign and stickers, this will act as a MUCH better deterrent. As will a heavy dog chain on your back patio and a water dish marked "Killer".

Thieves are looking for an easy entry and exit and the path of least resistance. They also don't really want electronics, they want cash and jewelry.

Spend your money on a great lock set, and some of those stickers. That's enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2014 [30 favorites]

I do not think posting a sign about defending anything "to the death" with crosshairs is a great idea. If you were my neighbor, I would think you're fucking nuts and stay away from you.

If you are this worried about burglaries, move to a safer neighborhood or get some tried-and-true deterrents, like an alarm system.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:55 AM on August 5, 2014 [45 favorites]

Ugh god if I saw a sign like that I'd want to smash your living room window just for presuming I was gonna rob you.

I live in a shadyass part of the city and do have a bit of stealable stuff in my place, and am probably noticeable on the block for being WHITE PERSON who LIVES ALONE and is GONE OFTEN and HAS MORE MONEY THAN YOU, and I have never once had any sort of itty bitty tiny problem with home burglary.

Mountains, molehills, I would not put up this sign if I were you.
posted by phunniemee at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2014 [24 favorites]

Those with insight into the criminal mind, would something like that cause a would-be burglar to think twice before breaking in?

For the purposes of this question, I suppose I can claim to have insight into the criminal mind.

If I was a criminal I'd probably see the sign, think "Ha! Who does this dude think he's fooling?" and then proceed to break into your house as I had already planned to do. I don't think there is a person alive who would be like "oh, this bizarre clip-art sign says he has nothing worth stealing? Well! I instantly believe him! Let us be on our way!"

Get some motion-activated outdoor lights and call it a day.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2014 [34 favorites]

Invest in inexpensive window and door alarms made by GE or similar, you can get these at the hardware store. They stick on with adhesive if you don't want to screw them in, they work with batteries and magnets. Very cheap to buy, easy to install!!

I think a sign is a bad idea.

Why are you concerned about this? Do most of your neighbors have bars or alarm systems? Do you live in a high crime neighborhood?

I think the location relative to neighbors of a home (fear of witnesses) style of doors, windows, and locks has a lot to do with how criminals pick houses to rob.

Do you have good security lighting? Lamps on timers? Window shades??

Look into home security hacks. No, I don't think a sign is a good idea. More like advertising or tempting fate, I'd say.
posted by jbenben at 9:58 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

IANAB (I am not a burglar) but if I were one a sign that basically said, "Move along, nothing to see here" would only make me think there was something of value inside.

Also, not every break in is about taking items of value. Sometimes people break into empty houses to throw parties or have a place to trash. You're better off with a camera, an automatic light, an alarm system, and home insurance.
posted by rhythm and booze at 9:59 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you think the people who do B&E are going to a) stop to read your sign b) understand your sign c) care about your sign, you are dreaming.

Your sign will make your neighbors and anyone else who happens to see it think you're a nutcase, though, if that's appealing to you.
posted by winna at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2014 [26 favorites]

I doubt that's a useful thing to do. A burglar, whether a pro or a junkie(possibly both), is unlikely to believe your sign. You could leave 1 item of value out to discourage a pissed-off burglar from intentionally causing damage. Motion-activated lighting, trimmed bushes around the home, good locks, sturdy door & windows, motion-activated noise alarm, Bark-y dog might help. Assess your home as if you were trying to get in after getting locked out. Fix those pathways to entry. A smart burglar who sees little of value will get it. Make friends with any neighbors; my older, observant neighbor is a great safety system.
posted by theora55 at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with Ruthless Bunny about the alarm company sign and stickers. If I saw that, I'd think that might be fake, but maybe not, so unless I were intent on robbing your house in particular, it would be easier to just move on than take the chance.

The other good cheap deterrent is to make it look like your house is occupied, with lights on timers, and maybe even one of those mp3s with household noises.

One thing I've used -- not as a deterrent, but it seems to have ended up that way -- is one of those driveway motion sensors that chimes when it detects movement. I attached one of those to my back door when I lost my cat, and I left it on after I got him back because people thought it was some kind of security device.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The clip art of crosshairs would make me think you had a firearm of some kind. In our neighborhood, firearms and ammunition are among the most popular items to burgle!
posted by Wavelet at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2014 [34 favorites]

Those with insight into the criminal mind, would something like that cause a would-be burglar to think twice before breaking in?

The problem with "NOTHING WORTH STEALING" is that a) unless you're a burglar yourself or buy stolen goods regularly, you may not know what in your house has value to a burglar , b) this seems like a really bad cover for an unconvincing lie and c) the subtext to "Nothing Worth Stealing" is "...So We Didn't Bother Installing An Alarm" which marks you as an easy target because of a) and b).
posted by griphus at 10:04 AM on August 5, 2014 [14 favorites]

This article quotes an expert on the effectiveness of (once-common in NYC) "no radio" signs on cars:

And Dr. Takooshian said he thought the pleas worked, to some degree. ''A no-radio sign is an indication that I'm aware of you,'' he said, adding that criminals he has interviewed expressed contempt for careless car owners, like those who left valuables on the seats. Though signs may not deter young people who rampage down blocks, breaking into cars at random -- he has videotaped such sprees with hidden cameras -- he thinks they may ward off more selective attacks.

He rated the effectiveness of no-radio signs as equal to that of more sophisticated devices.

posted by Xalf at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The thing about smash-and-grabs is that they're probably not cased beforehand. It's somebody who's wandering around out of sight and has an opportunity to break a window and take a minute-long look for a TV, laptop, and drugs in the bathroom.

I didn't have anything worth stealing in my apartment, either, and it was obvious, and yet we still had an attempted smash-and-grab - because it was a first-floor window in a secluded alley.
posted by entropone at 10:09 AM on August 5, 2014

you may not know what in your house has value to a burglar

When I was in college some friends of mine had their apartment broken into. TV didn't get stolen. What did get stolen was a several years old video game console and a pile of DVDs (several of which belonged to the library) and video games. Small, lightweight, easy to carry, easy to resell for a quick buck.
posted by phunniemee at 10:15 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, when our college house got broken into they took a camera and a hard drive, but mostly they took alcohol and pocket change and, like, a backpack.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2014

I think you'd generate attention more than you'd benefit from dissuading anyone-- which really isn't what you want. If you want to say 'we're simple folk' you can more subtly send those messages through landscape choices and decor.

Plus, you're both warding them off and sort of...daring them? You don't want to be preemptively challenging to some mildly drunk teens looking to raid your medicine cabinet for Xanax, and certainly not for any worse scenarios.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:23 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Those with insight into the criminal mind, would something like that cause a would-be burglar to think twice before breaking in? I get that breaking into houses is a value proposition based on how much they can get for the stuff they steal balanced with the risk of doing so.

Yeah, your typical thief doesnt 'think twice' about stuff like that. They don't make value propositions. They steal shit. Rare is the 'job' that's cased beforehand and actually thought out. These are crimes of opportunity and desperation. There's no logic in this world.

We live in a fairly sketch neighborhood for our city (it's not bad, but it's not great) There's a couple murders a year, lots of B&E (most of this is out of cars and detached garages, not houses), and a fair amount of drug crime; the thought of a sign preventing any of the property damage that happens around here would be laughable.

I'm afraid to say this is a silly idea, and only makes you look like a nutty person to your neighbors; which happen to be some of the best defense against theft. We're really lucky on our block to know just about everyone. Even the sketch folks. A stronger little community and knowing the folks on your street can be a HUGE help in preventing this kind of thing.

Its far more normal and socially acceptable to get a dog than it would be to put up crazy signs, that will get stolen and laughed at by neighborhood kids, after they rifle through your shit.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:26 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You seem oddly concerned about this. That makes me think either you live in a very dangerous/shady neighborhood, or you are hypervigilant on this issue.

If it's the former, signs will not help, and will likely make you a target. If I were magically divested of my morals and became a burglar, I would see your sign and break in just for lulz. (I do non-criminal things now for lulz, so I assume criminal!kythuen would be similarly motivated.) I would steal your toothbrushes and one of each pair of your socks, and leave taunting messages on your mirror.

Aside from that, I would suggest that your neighbors would not thank you for making the neighborhood look scuzzy and dangerous. If anyone on my block did that, I promise you we'd be burning down the fencepost telegraph to make fun of them for it. And then, probably, one of us would steal the sign. (And I live in a lovely, sane, safe neighborhood!)

Get a dog, get cameras, get good locks. Don't get a sign.
posted by kythuen at 10:32 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can't say how it would affect would-be burglars, though I suspect they'd either not notice it or else not care about it. However, I can tell you this:

If you invited me to your home, and I saw that sign while at your door, I would think you were crazy, paranoid, delusional, and quite possibly packing heat. I would look for an opportunity to excuse myself, I would leave, and I would thereafter distance myself from you.
posted by Flunkie at 10:40 AM on August 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think this sign will only serve to alert your neighbors to the fact that you don't want to be part of the neighborhood community, which is probably detrimental to your cause if you think that having neighbors who know and will keep an eye out for you are a helpful security measure (I do).

With respect, the sign you're describing just sounds tacky and groundlessly hostile, with no actual benefit. If your goal is to become a neighborhood 'character,' probably with a nickname like THE DEFENDER or something, I guess that'd be a good way of doing it, but otherwise just go with the motion detectors or alarms or something of that nature.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The best thing you can do here is bake cookies for your neighbors and introduce yourself. Remember the names of kids and pets and say hi when you are out. Etc, etc.

When you are part of the community, everyone looks out for each other. This sign would create the opposite effect.
posted by susanvance at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

That sign tells me you have at least gun in the house, which is *absolutely* worth stealing if I know you're not at home. (Also, possibly, baby formula.) And I agree with other posters that a neighbor with that sign is a neighbor I will fear and distrust until the day they leave. A friend I visited with that sign would be someone I would very carefully end my friendship with lest they consider me to be someone they need to defend themselves from with a weapon. (I have friends and family that I trust, who have guns and concealed carry permits. They do not advertise this fact.)

If there's nothing worth stealing in your home, then what is your concern? I've been burgled with an apartment full of nothing. I guess it was a hassle to talk to the police and put away the upturned jewelry box (it only had costume jewelry in it, they didn't take anything from us, that's how little we had.) Just get a really good lock for the door and remember to lock the windows before you leave, and you'll make your house sufficiently unattractive to most burglars.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

There are copper wires running through every house.
There is an epidemic of people stealing copper right now. It is valuable.
The copper wires in your house ARE worth stealing.
posted by Flood at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Okay, I'm not a criminal, but....

If I were at the point in which I was going to break into your house to steal your stuff, I would not be at the point in which I would read a sign, give it thoughtful consideration, and then make a more-informed decision based upon this new information. I'm a desperate person doing a dangerous thing. Don't assume that your sign would fall upon reasonable eyes.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:46 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend who is a lawyer (but not your lawyer, et cetera) has in the past scoffed at "beware of dog" signs as potential liabilities in that if said dog ever hurt anyone, however provoked, that person could then say that the owner knowingly kept a vicious animal and their injury was a deliberate attack. It seems to me that putting up a sign essentially announcing your intent to shoot intruders dead might well have similar implications in the event that someone ever disregarded its advice and you ended up hurting/killing them. While I make no pretension to know whether that'd be a problem in your jurisdiction, and in fact am uneasily aware that in my state it's not necessarily illegal to kill people just because they're on your property, it's probably something you should investigate before making such an open-ended threat.
posted by teremala at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2014

When I lived in Germany and only had access to Armed Forces TV, instead of commercials they did informational things. One was a skit about a couple traveling (something common with the military) and the husband had stuck all their ID and stuff in a big envelope and labeled it. I don't recall what he labeled it but in the skit it was stolen and the wife was talking trash about what an idiot he was and that his label amounted to telling the thieves "STEAL THIS FIRST."

Similarly, in one college class, a professional archaeologist said that signs which designate "Protected archaeological dig" or whatever amount to "STEAL THIS FIRST" signs.

Also, when I moved into a sketchy neighborhood where the cops routinely staked the place out and there was a history of car break-ins, etc, and then gave up my car and began walking everywhere, other people eventually began walking everywhere. Crime went down. The cops stopped staking the place out.

I am going to agree with everyone who is saying a) eyes on the street and b) signs the house are occupied at all times are your best deterrents. Criminals typically want to break in when the house is empty and no one is looking. There may be some other positioning things you can do -- like stickers indicating you have an alarm system or whatever -- but, really, just the physical presence of potential witnesses is the biggest, best deterrent possible.

So, yeah, this coworker of yours -- Don't take their advice.
posted by Michele in California at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

clip-art of baby in bassinet

Also I don't think you want to say you have nothing valuable and then make a point of there being a baby.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:56 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had a smash and grab in a parking lot in Methuen MA.

What they didn't steal:

2 bottles of liquor and my ipod.

What they took:

An EMPTY backpack.
posted by brujita at 11:00 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just a data point about what is likely to get stolen: I had a 10 year old car, nothing anyone would look twice at. I parked it nightly on the street, 10 feet from my bedroom window, lit up by a 5-globe lantern in my yard.

I woke up one morning to find the passenger window busted out and the glove box gone through. I made a police report and said there was nothing missing. I cleaned up the glass so I could take the car for repairs, and only then noticed there was no baby seat to strap my daughter my daughter into.
posted by The Deej at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2014

Those with insight into the criminal mind, would something like that cause a would-be burglar to think twice before breaking in?

I'm a criminal attorney. I am not an expert in home defense, but due to a related expertise I attend a fair amount of home-defense seminars (NRA, etc). I may not exactly have an ex-burglar's insight, but as you're asking for semi-credentialed advice, those are mine.

You've probably heard the adages about it being flawed to think defensively and not offensively. This is a good example. You are starting from a position of, "Here's something I could do. Would it work?" Instead, you want to start from, "What am I worried about?" There are all kinds of people who might want to break into a home for different reasons: jewelry and electronics, prescription drugs, fixtures and appliances, small items to pawn (clothing, etc) that a homeowner might not notice are missing, and of course, just to use the house itself. These circles don't necessarily overlap. "The criminal mind" is not really a singular thing that exists.

Think about which scenarios are likely in your neighborhood, and try to think about their mechanics. What might foil them? Then you get to the defensive step: not "what can I do," but "how can I do that." Generally speaking you want to favor two types of solutions: global, and early. In other words, it's better to improve your neighborhood's lighting than to keep your kitchen light on, and it's better to persuade a criminal to drive past your house than to worry about whether your jewelry drawer is locked.

With that in mind, let's go back to your proposed sign. It might work, sure, but here's what occurs to me. It only addresses a particular type of criminal—someone who is thoughtfully targeting your home for potential yield of electronics—and it doesn't take effect until that person is already lurking on your doorstep.

I would suggest thinking critically about what, if any threats are realistic in your neighborhood. Your local police should be able to help answer this. The desk officer may not, but in my experience a detective or sergeant would be happy to chat with you. You can also take a class. Call a gun store or range and ask where you can take NRA classes locally. The class titles vary (eg, Personal Protection in the Home) but I've found two things are always true: owning a gun is never requisite to getting useful information from the class; and although the curriculum is often designed at a national or state level, the in-class discussions always address local concerns. It can be a good way to learn what's at play in your community.

Good luck. Being aware of home security puts you ahead of the game. Be safe!
posted by cribcage at 11:24 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

From the perspective of your neighbors, however, the fact that you're broadcasting "WE LIVE AN ASCETIC LIFE" might be just as irritating as people who feel the need to drop "oh, I don't even OWN a television!" into conversation.

(Well, and the fact you said you don't own a television)
posted by mikeh at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

the expense of cleaning up after a home invasion/robbery would cost more than the value of any items that could be stolen from us.

Everyone has already said what I was going to say about the sign itself, so I'll address this: get insurance that covers any damage from break-ins.
posted by desjardins at 11:40 AM on August 5, 2014

When I lived in a garden apartment in a sketchy-ish neighborhood, I had a smash-and-grab. The thief pushed in a window screen and grabbed my backpack - nothing else. Fortunately, my backpack only had a book, some pens, and a pack of tissue in it. But this was one of the incidents that made my landlord give in and install a security gate across the entrance to the courtyard.

Burglaries are usually a matter of opportunity. Nobody is going to be looking at the sign that says "nothing worth stealing;" they are going to be looking at how easy it is to break into your house, grab stuff, and go, without being observed.

Just to emphasize the importance of "eyes on the street," when I lived in that same apartment my neighbor and I were able to foil a car break-in. We were hanging out in front of the apartment, chatting, and we saw someone open the door to another neighbor's car. "Hey, are you a friend of X's?" we asked, politely. "Did she want you to get something from her car?" The guy ran. (Neighbor X was not in the habit of locking her car up until then! She learned!) Neither of us were formidable-looking (a small woman and a short, slight man), and we were not at all aggressive or threatening, (at first we thought maybe it WAS a friend of Neighbor X's) but just being seen scared the potential burglar off.

Get to know your neighbors, and make your place a pain in the butt to break into - you don't need elaborate security systems, or a big fierce dog, you just need to not be an easy mark. Secure your doors and windows; make sure you don't have easily pushed-in window screens facing the street, for instance. Trim bushes and shrubbery near the house so no-one can hide in them. Your local police department should have a list of tips to make your home more secure.

You don't mention the crime rate of your neighborhood. Unless burglaries are rampant, you want to be cautious, but not paranoid.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I am not a thief but I interviewed one for a news segment. I recall that he said above all, thieves do NOT want to get into an altercation with a person or an animal. If they think someone is home or a dog is there, they will keep looking for a different place to get into.

Some tips:

* Thieves will spend less than one minute entering your home and less than four minutes ransacking your home.

* Keep a radio or tv playing when you're not home during the day. They can't tell if someone's there, but they're not going to bother checking.

* Thieves enter homes that are easy to enter and exit.

* Your best, all-time deterrent is a large dog water dish AND one of those staked-into-the-grass dog tie-outs with an attached tie out, so it appears that a dog lives in your home. A "Beware of Dog" sign is a fine touch.

Thieves know the fake alarm signs, and even if they're real, they know they will be in and out of a house long before the police get there, so they ignore those signs.

You want a thief to think there's a dog in the house.
posted by kinetic at 12:01 PM on August 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

Just get a dog.

Bonus: Now you have a dog!
posted by Jacqueline at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: This is fascinating/hilarious. We're going to go with "no" for my coworker's sign. Or, maybe, take it from him, thank him, and then not put it up.
posted by juniperesque at 12:14 PM on August 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

With regards to the dog idea, someone once told me that those "In case of Fire Please Save Our Dog" window stickers are another way to signal to potential intruders that you've got a dog ... we've got them anyway because - well, we've got a dog and want her to be saved in case of fire - but it's nice to think they may have that extra added bonus function!
posted by DingoMutt at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2014

"In case of fire please save our dog" would be fine if you have a dog, but please don't use it like the common suggestion of a fake "Beware of dog". I'd imagine that the last thing you'd want is for a firefighter to risk their life to try to find your nonexistent dog.
posted by Flunkie at 1:16 PM on August 5, 2014 [12 favorites]

A sign like this is akin to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain..."

To me, this, and "no radio" signs on cars are invitations to burglars to target your house.

Don't post a sign.

Keep your doors locked and your blinds closed. Get to know your neighbors. Ask them to watch the house while you are out or traveling. You can even ask the police to watch the house when you are traveling.

Also, you're assuming criminals always plan out their crimes beforehand. I'm not saying none do, but many don't. To add to the examples given upthread; A co-worker of mine had his car broken into while it was parked on the street in front of his house in a smash-and-grab.

What they did NOT steal:

* Car stereo
* GPS device (left mounted to the windshield)
* E-Z Pass transponder (left mounted to the windshield)
* The car itself

What they DID steal:

* A coat.

Since this happened during the winter, I'm guessing the logic was something like this:

"I'm cold!"
"Hey that car has a coat lying on the seat!"
*smash window, take coat, put it on*
"I'm not cold anymore!"

...which almost makes you feel sorry for the guy. This was a nuisance to my co-worker, but proves that thieves aren't always looking to steal valuables.
posted by tckma at 1:17 PM on August 5, 2014

Guns are very much worth stealing, and your sign is telling burglars you have them.
posted by cnc at 1:21 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

You should be able to take this link and type your zip code in where I put in 60626 and it will give you crime rates relative to Chicago and he USA.

(Sorry if that's your zip code and it freaks you out).
posted by shothotbot at 1:49 PM on August 5, 2014

Honestly, I'm the most law-abiding person you've ever seen. A compulsive rule follower. I don't even speed. And if I saw a sign like that I would so want to break into that house.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:12 PM on August 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

Why advertise that you have valuable, easy to steal guns?
posted by Dip Flash at 2:25 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I once watched an interview with a former professional house thief who said that he and his partners in crime would ignore signs for home security systems (most people don't turn them on and/or the thieves knew ways around them or deactivating them) but that if they saw "beware of dog" they'd forget the robbery and leave. Why? Because dogs bark, and bite. There's too much of a risk that if a dog hears you so much as traipsing around the outside of the house, they will make a big fuss and wake everyone up.

You don't even have to get a dog. Just a BEWARE OF DOG sign. Maybe make it a little prettier than the standard black/orange ones, for aesthetics' sake.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:00 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

"In case of fire please save our dog" would be fine if you have a dog, but please don't use it like the common suggestion of a fake "Beware of dog". I'd imagine that the last thing you'd want is for a firefighter to risk their life to try to find your nonexistent dog.

Ah, I'm embarrassed I didn't even think of that. Excellent point. Please disregard my previous comment, OP, unless you do have a dog.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:22 PM on August 5, 2014

This idea is like if you could apply the Streisand Effect as directly as possible to your house. It is not a good idea.

People steal weird things. My parents once had their car broken into in DC in order to steal a tray of change and a Life Savers Sweet Storybook.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend's NYC apartment got burgled, and I was there when the cops were looking over things. One said the best deterrent for home burglary was a small, yappy dog. So yes, get a dog. And then, bonus, you have a dog!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:12 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Hi! We have guns! Be sure to come on by when we are gone during the day and steal 'em!"
posted by nacho fries at 8:55 PM on August 5, 2014

Buy a security system lawn sign on ebay. 95% of the benefit.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 PM on August 5, 2014

People steal weird things. My parents once had their car broken into in DC in order to steal a tray of change and a Life Savers Sweet Storybook.

I had a car broken into. They went through the passenger compartment and the trunk. At the time the car contained: A 2-Meter ham radio, a very nice down sleeping bag, a boatload of change, two pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses, a bunch of tools, four quarts of oil, a Maglite flashlight, and a semi-decent aftermarket stereo and speakers.

They took two quarts of oil and the flashlight.
posted by Gev at 5:37 AM on August 6, 2014

Yeah, my car was broken into and they stole an old toothbrush and a manual tyre depth gauge, the type you can buy in any motorway service station for £2. It was also broken into a few years later because it was raining and the guy wanted somewhere dry to smoke his crack and eat his two loaves of sliced white bread (which he kindly left behind when my neighbour noticed him and yelled at him, so I made a slight profit out of that one). It's an old car, it is always obvious that there is nothing left in it. Thieves are weird.
posted by tinkletown at 6:32 AM on August 6, 2014

My husband recently tried to tell me that no one would break into our house and steal our computer equipment because it's not brand new and, if they saw it from the window, they'd keep walking. This is not true.

The people (clients) I know who steal things are looking for anything they can grab easily and either use for themselves or sell for $5. Most of them live in poverty, have addictions, and don't have the wherewithal to plan and execute some grand heist. They don't have the ability to rent a truck to haul things, they're likely on foot or bike, and if it doesn't fit in a backpack easily they're not going to take it. On top of that, most of them aren't going to shop around to get the best price for their stolen item - they're literally looking for something they can trade off for cash with an hour or two.

The giant flat-screen TV isn't easy to haul out - but the $10 in spare change on the desk is. The antique clock has zero value to them - but the shitty bike in the garage is a set of wheels they can use. The bag of candy is appealing to someone who's high but the fine art on the wall is pointless. My clients aren't going to care about your sign - they're looking through your basement rec room window, and won't see it anyway.

There are certainly thieves who are more coordinated - who will rent a truck to clear out your home of expensive stuff - but that's a whole other ball of wax and way less likely to happen. They're definitely not going to care about your sign either. Just keep your house secure, follow all the "best practices" for keeping your house from being a target, and you'll probably be fine.
posted by VioletU at 6:35 AM on August 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

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