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Deter Crime Effectively: Do Security Signs Stop Crime?

Too busy to read? Here’s a summary:

  • Do security signs deter crime? Yes, they do.
  • Security signs can be categorized by the policies they indicate. For example, they may provide notification of ongoing video surveillance or express a commitment to prosecuting shoplifters.
  • Signs alone provide significantly less deterrence than signs that accompany visible security infrastructure. (Savvy robbers can distinguish between sites with functional security systems and sites with nonexistent ones.)

Today, we're discussing business security signs and how they can be effectively leveraged to deter theft, violent crime, and other criminal activities.

But first, to answer the question in the title: Yes, security signs deter crime.

Security signs (also known as security notifications or security signage) deter criminals by indicating a heightened risk of capture and prosecution.

In fact, nearly two out of three convicted burglars who participated in a University of North Carolina (UNC) study admitted that evidence of an active security system causes them to reconsider their plans and seek out less protected targets.

According to the same study, about a quarter of burglars have been deterred by visual security notifications alone. While preventing around 25% of criminal attempts is huge, it isn’t adequate as a stand-alone security solution. The other three-fourths of robbers would be left free to intrude and steal, and it does mark a sharp reduction in violation attempts.

Keep on reading to learn more about security signs for commercial properties, including types of signage, best implementation practices to maximize their deterrence, and crucial information about when security notifications are legally required or highly advised as a legal safeguard.

Types of Security Signs for Business Security

Businesses and organizations use a variety of signs to deter criminals. Each type serves a specific security purpose or communicates a clear message about a business’s security posture.

Types of Security Signs for Business Security

Here’s a list of common types of security signs for commercial properties and organizations:

Violators Will Be Prosecuted

In business contexts, your best bet is providing notification that your organization aggressively uses surveillance and other tools to prosecute crimes on their premises, including vandalism and shoplifting.

Such signage serves as a powerful deterrent by establishing that you’re serious about preventing crime and holding bad actors accountable.

Video Surveillance Signs

Video surveillance signs often include phrases like “24/7 Video Surveillance” and “You Are Being Recorded.”

The presence of security cameras deters shoplifters, robbers, and even dishonest customers and staff by reinforcing that your site is being monitored. Video surveillance signs enhance this deterrence by reminding people they’re being monitored.

Alarm System & Security Company

Signs that state “This Property is Protected by [X] Alarm System” or “This Property is Protected by [X] Security Company” inform potential intruders that an alarm will sound if unauthorized access is attempted.

As is the case with signage about surveillance, signage about advanced intrusion detection can be a powerful deterrent. 

What’s more, most modern alarm systems provide automatic notifications to property managers when intruders are detected, dramatically increasing the likelihood that law enforcement will respond to threats in time to apprehend criminals in the act.

No Trespassing Signs

Simple yet effective, “No Trespassing” signs mark private property boundaries and warn that unauthorized entry is prohibited.

Just as importantly, highly visible “No Trespassing” signs can support legal action against trespassers by establishing that they were adequately notified.

Authorized Personnel Only

“Authorized Personnel Only” signs are commonly used to define the boundary between customers and staff-only areas. As is the case with well-placed “No Trespassing” signs, they indicate legally enforceable boundaries.

Restricted Area Signs

“Restricted Area” signs are commonly posted around areas that require heightened access control, such as offices containing highly sensitive data and storage rooms containing dangerous chemicals.

Consider installing modern access control solutions to secure high-value data and assets from bad actors. Access control systems provide reliable, automated entry management by granting access to authorized users while keeping doors locked against those without proper authorization.

Beware of Owner

A “Beware of Owner” sign with a gun image sounds like a powerful deterrent. And guess what? It is!

However, such signs in commercial establishments scare guests, staff, and customers by indicating a policy of escalating security incidents, placing customers and staff in mortal danger.

Backing up such signage by actually pulling out a gun and firing bullets can result in negative public relations and legal issues.

Victim Protection

These signs indicate the availability of discreet assistance for victims of common crimes that often go under the radar.

For example, at Orlando International Airport, the toilet-facing side of restroom stall doors prominently feature signage in English and Spanish for victims of human trafficking. “You are not alone,” the posters begin. They then show the sign-language hand positions for the letters H and T (for Help and Trafficking), which victims can mimic to receive assistance. The airport staff has been trained to recognize these hand signs and respond appropriately.

The Trouble with False Security Signs

The Trouble with False Security Signs

Fake security signs? Not a great idea.

Savvy criminals can often tell the difference between a sticker or sign from a company that gives them away and one that represents a real, robust security system.

Simply put, false signs don’t deter knowledgeable criminals.

Understanding the Psychology Behind Security Signs

The Deterrent Effect

Why do these signs work? It's all about perceived risk versus reward. Criminals are often looking for an easy target. A security sign signals that there’s a higher risk of getting caught, tipping the scales toward finding some other target.

The Power of Visibility

Visibility is key. It’s not just about having a sign; it’s about where you put it. Make it prominent and unmissable.

Best Practices for Using Security Signs

Strategic Placement

Don’t just slap a sign anywhere. Think about the most visible locations. Entry points, fences, and driveways are prime spots.

You’re not just informing potential intruders; you’re reassuring your clients and employees that their safety is a top priority.

Fresh Signs

Old, weathered signs indicate an outdated security system, so keep your signs looking new and fresh. It’s a small detail that can make a big difference, especially with savvy robbers.

The Role of Security Signs in a Comprehensive Security Strategy

So, do security signs deter crime? Yes.

But don’t rely on signs alone. Signs may deter a quarter of bad actors, but for the other 75%, you need a functional security system.

Mammoth and Your Security

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We wrote today’s article to address questions we often receive about security signs, so thanks for reading!

As Connecticut’s one-stop shop for advanced commercial-grade security devices and professional installations, Mammoth Security is here to keep you safe.

Reach out to our team now by clicking to contact us and filling out the form that appears. We’re offering FREE site surveys and consultations with friendly experts from our team.

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FAQ

Yes, security signs effectively deter shoplifting in businesses. They provide a psychological deterrent by signaling a heightened risk of being caught, which often leads criminals to target less protected properties.

Video surveillance signs are highly effective in deterring crime. By making it clear that surveillance is active, they increase the perceived risk of being caught.

'No Trespassing' signs are crucial for businesses as they mark private property boundaries and warn against unauthorized entry, supporting legal action against trespassers and enhancing security.

False security signs are not recommended for protecting businesses. Savvy criminals can often distinguish them from real security signs, potentially making your business a more attractive target.

Security signs are vital for deterring vandalism as they indicate serious surveillance and legal consequences that discourage potential vandals from targeting properties.

'Violators Will Be Prosecuted' signs benefit businesses by warning that all crimes, including vandalism and shoplifting, will face prosecution.

Strategic placement of security signs maximizes their visibility, making them more effective at deterring unwanted behaviors and reassuring customers and employees that they are in a safe environment.

Human trafficking awareness signs are essential in public areas as they enhance public awareness and provide discreet tools for trafficking victims to gain assistance.

When security signs are part of a comprehensive security strategy, they act as a powerful psychological deterrent, making the property you want to protect a much less attractive target.

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