Is This The Right Way To Alert The Neighbors Of Crime In Your Neighborhood?

A man in Huntington Beach, CA, says he was just trying to let his neighbors know about a spate of recent robberies when he placed a 3’x10′ banner reading “We have a thief in the neighborhood” on his house. But now he’s facing flack from some locals who say the sign only draws negative attention, especially if one is trying to sell one’s home.

“If you were looking for a home on this block, what would you think?” one not-so-pleased neighbor asked KTLA news.

The homeowner behind the sign said he was motivated after his car was broken into twice:

Typically what this neighborhood does if there’s a problem, they’ll make a note and they’ll make copies and put (them) in everybody’s mail box. I own a graphic company and I had the art department make me a banner.

He says he isn’t trying to cause a problem and he’d be willing to take the sign down if a neighbor asked him to because they were selling their house.

Do you think the sign would be an effective deterrent to crime? Should his neighbors be thanking him or scolding him for bringing attention to the burglaries?


Homeowner’s ‘Thief’ Sign Stirs Controversy []


Edit Your Comment

  1. neil125 says:

    Obviously we have a thief in Lincoln Park

    • SonarTech52 says:

      He’s climbin in yo windows, snatching yo people up…

    • Cyniconvention says:

      He’s breaking in yo’ windows, and snatching yo’ items out, tryin’ to take ’em, so ya’ll need to hide yo’ car, hide yo’ stuff…

    • TheSkaAssassin - College Man says:


    • Swedgin says:

      You don’t have to confess, we’re lookin’ for you
      We go’n Fiiiind you, we go’n Fiiiind you
      You ran run tell that, run tell that, run tell that
      home boy, home boy, home home home boy.

      • Michaela says:


        My town will never lose that connection. Even at college, people sing that song to me when they hear I am from Huntsville.

  2. OnePumpChump says:

    At least it’s just one.

  3. ophmarketing says:

    He needed an art department to put that together?

    • evilrobot says:

      …involving several meetings and many, many revisions directed by the clients cousin who took an art class.

    • MDSasquatch says:

      He may want to have a chat with his “art department’; looks like they need to bone up on their grommet placement and pole-pocket skills.

      • apd09 says:

        bone up on their grommet placement

        RIGHT, and it is so weird because I thought Gromit graduated from “Dogwarts University” with a double first in Engineering.

        Oh, Grommet, not Gromit, nevermind. Please pass the cheese.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Huh huh, you said “pole pocket”

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Should have just called the Gap.

  4. dolemite says:

    His neighbor might not like it when selling his house, but I’d love to know it if I was buying a house.

  5. kgmoome says:

    Cause they robbin eery body out there

  6. apd09 says:

    At least this shows one good thing about a Home Owners Association and never needing to worry about something like happening in my house.

  7. dbeahn says:

    If the neighbors have a problem with the sign, then one of them should steal it.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Maybe steal it and replace with a sign that reads “No I’m not.”

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    What is the sign supposed to do, shame the anonymous thief into stopping? All he had to do was tell his neighbors or put a leaflet into their mailboxes. The banner just seemed like a more lazy way of doing things. If you lived on the other side of the banner, how would you even see that it was there? You’d have to depend on word of mouth, which is what would have happened anyway had he just subtly put leaflets in people’s mailboxes.

    • humphrmi says:

      Maybe he’s a law abiding citizen and realizes that putting leaflets without postage into people’s mailboxes is illegal.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Huh? I did not know that. Granted I’ve never tried. You learn something every day.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Unless you’re the owner of said mailbox, putting/taking anything in/out or on/off it is a federal offence. You’re better off not going anywhere near it.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        No, he’s passive-aggressively punishing his neighbors for being leaflet factories.

        And probably not even using his business to make the copies, too.

      • AI says:

        What about fruitcake?

        • humphrmi says:

          Fruitcakes in the kitchen, Fruitcakes on the street, Struttin’ naked through the crosswalk in the middle of the week. There’s a little bit of fruitcake left in everyone of us.

    • TorontoConsumer says:

      In a situation like this, you, the thieves/thief, and the police all know nothing is going to result in terms of enforcement action unless they make a SERIOUS mistake. The victim is powerless- actions like this result. Can’t say I blame him.

    • Rena says:

      Alerting people to the presence of a thief, hoping to foil him by getting them to hide their valuables?

    • Galium says:

      It is against the law to put anything but mail in a mailbox. He could be arrested for doing so.

  9. evilpete says:

    Most thrives commute to work.

    • Azzizzi says:

      That’s what the police told me after having my car broken into at a hotel in Fountain Valley (near Huntington Beach).

      I had my car broken into twice in Huntington Beach, too.

  10. ellmar says:

    If that’s the best his “graphic” company could come up with then I’d say it’s an effective way to warn his neighbors not to hire his company.

  11. denros says:

    I’m surprised someone hasn’t cited him for a sign that big on residential property

  12. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    No, I get it. His neighbors aren’t using his business to produce their leaflets, and he’s advertising.

  13. knoxblox says:

    There he is at :48 going over the wall! Get him!

  14. momtimestwo says:

    You guys are funny:)

  15. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Off the subject, but a couple of days ago I read that in Portland, Oregon the DA announced they no longer have the funding to prosecute shoplifters. So basically, store security isn’t allowed to stop them, and even if they are caught, the most they will get is, and I quote, “The equivalent of a speeding ticket.”

    It’s gonna be high times for thieves in Portland I tell ya.

    If that’s the case in HB CA hanging a banner to let people know (so they can stock up on hollow points) might be the only recourse.

    • tiatrack says:

      As a Portland resident….sigh. The homeless are already taking over our town, and now the shoplifters will too.

  16. TorontoConsumer says:

    As someone who had his locked car broken in to in his locked parking garage and received no help or sympathy from either his townhouse’s management company or the police, I know the helpless feeling you get when you think about the (amateur, unprofessional) thieves going free and facing no repercussions of any sort. I can’t say something like this didn’t cross my mind – you just want to do something.

    • Mphone says:


      Sure, it won’t help and in today’s society the person making noise about the crime is more despised than the criminal.

      My car was broken into and I knew who did it. I filed a police report and gave them the information about who did it. They had my car stereo, ipod and old book of CD’s. The police refused to do anything. So I told them I would get my stuff back and make sure justice was served. They were more concerned I was about to do something illegal now than the guy who stole from me.

      • SilentAgenger says:

        I feel your pain. Our neighbor’s house was broken into. The cops were not interested in doing anything beyond filling out a standard report. It was up to us (a small band of concerned neighbors) to do enough detective work to figure out where the thief/thieves entered the neighborhood (though a hole they made in our fence), and where the stolen goods were taken (they filled my neighbor’s trash can with as much as they could and stashed it in the nearby woods so they could retrieve it later…a clearly visible set of wheel tracks left by the trash can led us right to the goods). We called the cops back to the scene. All they would do is dust the can for prints. We asked if they were going to stake out the scene and wait for the criminals to return. They said it wasn’t worth their time, as the goods only had a “couple hundred dollars in street value.” My neighbor countered that it would easily take a few thousand dollars to replace what was stolen. The cops replied that they only go by street value. We spent a sleepless night knowing that at some point criminals would be a stone’s throw from our houses looking for their loot, and not knowing how they’d react after finding it gone (I can only hope they turned on each other, assuming there was more than one of them). Anyway, I realize one understandable reason for the cops’ indifferece was because they are outnumbered and overworked, going from call to call with hardly a break (in our area anyway), but I’m still peeved that they outright ignored what seemed like a clear cut slam dunk at catching a burglar.

  17. Destra says:

    I’d be ok with the sign in my neighborhood. Especially if he was willing to take it down if a house went on the market. It really gets people’s attention that there is something wrong going down, and that in turn makes people more vigilant.

  18. seanism says:

    “If you were looking for a home on this block, what would you think?” one not-so-pleased neighbor asked KTLA news.

    I love that comment. What would you think if your car got broken into twice after moving in?!?!!?

    I’d like to know before I move in there are a lot of break ins. DURF.

  19. Zeratul010 says:

    “”If you were looking for a home on this block, what would you think?” one not-so-pleased neighbor asked KTLA news.”

    I think I’d be heavily motivated to help find the thief.

    • jeffbone says:

      Yep…perhaps the concerned neighbors could consider organizing themselves in a way to watch the neighborhood…they could even call it “Neighborhood Watch”. Heck, they might even get the local police department to provide some advice.

      I wonder why no one’s thought of something like that. ;-)

  20. stottpie says:

    i’d personally appreciate it. would make you double think where you leave the car, and what you leave inside of it.

    i see the other side of it as well though, could make selling a home tougher. but if it’s true, then the buyer deserves to know.

  21. rocklob says:

    This reminds me of the time that my apartment was broken into and robbed. After work the next day, I posted about 30 signs all over the apartment complex stating that there was a break-in and asking if anyone saw anything. The very next morning, they were all gone. The management company didn’t like the posters and took them all down. I put up a new batch, and down they went again…

  22. emptyV says:

    we need an auto tune song about this, like bed intruder…

  23. TasteyCat says:

    He had some broken cameras and change stolen? Really?

    • madanthony says:

      But I wonder how much damage they did to the car to take it. Replacing a broken window isn’t cheap.

  24. FrugalFreak says:

    I’m wondering if the man is scared of new neighbors moving in his neighborhood. If this could be a way to keep out new owners since he knows all of the current ones. It is a decent looking neighborhood.

    • Michaela says:

      He said that he would take it down if someone needed to sell their home.

      Honestly, your reason really just makes no sense.

  25. mathieu says:

    In my experience, homeowners’ associations and neighborhood watch groups, and their signs, are nearly useless in preventing crimes, since most homeowners have the TV turned up too high to hear anything going on outside. Dog walkers are more likely to be out at odd hours, and more likely to see and report unusual activity.

  26. Snaptastic says:

    When I lived in an apartment complex in Mississippi, we had a peeping tom sneaking around looking into 1st floor windows (I used to pick 2nd floor and up for a reason). I found out because I was walking my dog before work and the cops patrolling the area told me. I asked the landlords, of course they weren’t going to do a darn thing.

    I took it upon myself to go door to door and tell the women/families of the apartments near me. I also set out in the morning with my dog and a stun baton. One morning I found a guy snooping into a window and chased him through the complex before he jumped a fence…after being chased by some crazy military chick in camo brandishing a stun baton with a very angry dog, I don’t think he decided to come back.

    Screw behaving, I was pissed off at both the perv and the landlord.

  27. Plasmafox says:

    I don’t know about most people but if I were looking at a house in that neighboorhood and saw that, I would either think it was a joke, or be impressed at the stance he’s taking.

  28. Rena says:

    Now… how funny would it be if it turned out he was sleep-robbing his own car?

  29. sopmodm14 says:

    a robber in the midst can victimize freely in the shadows….once his presence is know, even if he isn’t caught in that area, will most likely leave, due to the increased attention

    if i’m a home buyer, i would like to know if the area is safe…..or at least buy and move in after the thief left

  30. Norvy says:

    What, the prospective sellers get to hush up the problem? Shouldn’t a prospective buyer get to know?

  31. topgun says:

    Good intentions, bad execution. The best bet would be to form a neighborhood watch group. Same effect, then all the neighbors would be a little more vigilant. Put up Neighborhood Watch signs ….. then it makes the ‘hood a little more attractive to potential home buyers.

  32. Galium says:

    We have a lot of thieves in DC. Maybe this guy could put a big banner on the capitol building.

  33. pot_roast says:

    Might not even be in the neighborhood. Thieves will often drive clear across town to go rob houses/cars. EG project dwellers driving into the middle class neighborhoods because they’re easy pickings.

  34. banmojo says:

    This man suffered his car being broken into not once, but TWICE on his own gd property! The local police and his neighbors clearly didn’t care enough to do anything to lessen the chance of a THIRD car breakin, so he did this action. Is it as good as attempting to form a neighborhood watch program? Probably not, but at least it gets people talking, and then perhaps enough will care enough to send the very best.

    I’ve had my car broken into several times before, and it always sucks big time, plus makes one feel so violated and helpless to do anything about it.

    Thieves should be hung by the neck till dead, like we used to do. Effective deterrent? Well, that one particular thief will never rob anyone again, eh?

  35. dilbert69 says:

    It’s not necessarily accurate. The thief may not live in the neighborhood at all.

  36. samonela says:

    Although I am several days late to this story…I just want to point out how much ROFL’ing occured at 0:47 in the video with the guy jumping over a fence seemingly unnoticed by the crew and woman being interviewed.

  37. lawgirl502 says:

    GOOD for that person. Be proactive!