Is there a little sticker like this on your door? If you’re not sure, please go check. Some of these stickers are being used by sham locksmith companies in Naples, placed by lowly locksmith scammers who use bait-and-switch pricing to dupe customers into paying $300-700 for a service that might cost less than $100 from a legitimate locksmith. Today, other reasons authorities are now warning about are much more frightening… These seemingly harmless stickers have now been linked to the work of organized criminal gangs across the United Kingdom and the trend seems to be picking up steam in the U.S. as more of these stickers are popping up on doors at homes and businesses in Naples, Estero, and Bonita. If I haven’t convinced you to march outside and peel that sticker off your door yet, keep reading to learn more.
In some cases, these seemingly innocuous “locksmith” marketing stickers are placed on homes and businesses that they have actually been deemed by criminals to be easy targets. The crimes are not perpetrated the typical lone ranger burglar, but by organized criminal enterprises with sophisticated low-risk burglary methods. The crime networks have underlings that work as scouts whose job it is to find homes and businesses with weak security. The scouts scope out your door hardware and locks to see if they locks are easy to pick, drill, bump, or kick in . The scouts will often peek in your home’s windows, or walk right into a business to see if there are good items to steal. If it looks like an easy target with a decent payout, they just place a small sticker near the lock, where even homeowners and business owners might not even notice.
After the scouts make the rounds, professional thieves come back to the neighborhood, weeks, or even months later. If they find one of their scout’s stickers, they in most cases knock on the door to see if anyone is home, and, if no one answers, they’ve found their mark. They quickly break in through your easily defeated locks and begin searching for jewelry, weapons, cash, or anything of value.
In the U.K., police have been suspicious of a link for a while, but they are now proving there is a direct link between highly skilled burglary attacks and the locksmith stickers, which usually just say “24 Hour Locksmith” (or something along those lines) and a phone number. As a locksmith in Naples, we’ve seen these stickers on hundreds of locks, but it is hard to say which ones are just marketing pieces for run-of-the-mill locksmith scammers and which ones might be marking homes and business for future burglary attacks. To be fair, some legitimate locksmiths may place stickers too. If you aren’t sure, check out ALOA to find a background checked and legitimate locksmith.
Regardless of whether the sticker on your door is a scammer or if it is the mark of a gang, if you have one of the stickers on your door, REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY and be sure to evaluate the security of your property. We have several articles and resources on our blog for securing your home, but if you’d like additional advice specific to your business or home, please give us a call and ask for a security evaluation.
Have you tried calling a locksmith from a door sticker? We’d be curious to hear about your experience. Please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org