Is the back of your minivan adorned with cutesy words, phrases and pics? Do you have a giant monogram, a sticker from your child’s school celebrating that they’re on the honor roll, or maybe one of those family graphics that shows how many kids you have and what kind of pet (and even their names)? We love to brag on our families and it’s fun to personalize our rides, but one police department is warning that this might not be a good idea after all.
The Richland Police Department in Washington tweeted that the decals on the back of your car are giving a lot of information to people who may be looking for their next crime victim. Here are a few things that they suggest you avoid.
Decals With Your Children’s Sports Teams Or Special Interests
This kind of information lets others know that you are busy and you may not be home on evenings or weekends. This is the perfect opportunity for someone to come by your house and help themselves.
A Sticker With A Boat, Motorcycle, Or Other Pricey Toy
This advertises that you like nice things … and they may be easy to find in your garage.
Images Of Your Dog Breed And Your Pup’s Name
This lets a perpetrator know what kind of animal to expect and how to call them by name, so as not to appear threatening.
A Bumper Sticker Showing Pride In Your Workplace
This gives out valuable information about you and where you can be located.
Anything With Your Kids’ School
It is of the utmost importance to keep private information private, particularly about kids.
These are often meant to be funny or ironic, but they can also make you easily identifiable, recognized, and remembered.
Decals That Say Things Like “Fishing Widow”
This gives the impression that your spouse may be gone often or for long periods of time, leaving you vulnerable.
Stickers That Advertise Things Like Hunting
This suggests that you have expensive equipment in your home and that you may be away a lot during peak season.
“Baby On Board” Emblems
This can be particularly worrisome because it says that you are busy, and likely distracted, with a baby and can be an easy target for a criminal. Sadly, if a driver sees a woman behind the wheel, she can be seen as more vulnerable and could easily have her purse stolen if she’s thrown it in the cart and is trying to get a baby out of a car seat.
There are other stickers that you may want to avoid as well. Think twice before you put a political or religious advertisement on your vehicle. As much as we all want to believe that people are reasonable creatures who can agree to disagree, we know that simply is not true. You cut off the wrong person with a political bumper sticker and they disagree with you, you could be opening yourself up to harassment or potentially road rage. Those incidents can lead to serious accidents and sometimes death. Is it really worth taking the chance?
Sometimes you also see things on the road that are just downright offensive. They attack people because of race, religion, and sexual orientation. Sadly, there are just people with poor taste that make stupid decisions about what they want to broadcast to the world. Me personally, I am a curser. Like a lot. Having said that, I just don’t think that it is appropriate to have the word “Fuck” on your car where a kid can see it. Call me a prude, but I say, do better.
You may not have thought about the repercussions of any of these things; I know that I hadn’t. And I am definitely guilty of having some of these decals on the back of my mini. I certainly wouldn’t want to put my children in harm’s way. This is an easy way to do it. I think that it says a lot about the world that we are living in now. We can’t even put things on our car that make us proud or happy, we have to be looking over our shoulders at all times to make sure that we are safe. It’s really sad.
But, that doesn’t mean that you have to lose yourself. So you want to personalize your vehicle? Reader’s Digest Suggests, “If you really want to put a bumper sticker on your car, it’s a good idea to keep it as generic as possible. In other words, bumper stickers that have quotes, movies, songs, animals, and other non-controversial decals are likely OK.”
Even if it feels like overkill to remove all the stuff from your car, it really is better to be safe than sorry. Brag on your kids and family in your home. Hang up the awards on the fridge, put pictures all over the house of them doing what they do best, put up an “I love fishing” sticker above your equipment in the garage. Just keep it off your car to help keep your personal details of your lifestyle from getting into the wrong hands.
This article was originally published on