Department of Information Technology

What Information are you Driving Around?  

Bumper stickers can broadcast a person’s life story or a family’s history and tendencies. For example, a bumper sticker touting a student’s good grades at school can get a criminal’s attention and be the starting point for building a family profile that can aid in a burglary or worse.

Reveals personal information

A bumper sticker can reveal personal information about the driver of a vehicle or their family that a person might not otherwise share with strangers. This often inadvertent disclosure of personal information may include:

  • A church sticker might suggest that you are away from home on Sunday mornings.
  • Pro-gun stickers can tell criminals that there may be valuable firearms in your car. While this could be a deterrent to some, it represents an opportunity to others.
  • Showing pride in your honor student reveals where the child attends school, a piece of information that may attract predators. Like writing your child’s name on a backpack, these bumper stickers can reveal just enough information to generate danger.

Hints at what is inside of the car

How can bumper stickers make a car break-in more appealing to a potential thief? Here are some examples:

  • Company stickers can send the message that there may be a company laptop inside.
  • NRA stickers could indicate there are valuable guns inside.
  • Stickers that reveal a profession are problematic. For example, medical or pharmacy school stickers may suggest a doctor or pharmacist has prescription drugs in the vehicle.

Potentially endangers your children

Theft of personal effects, even very valuable belongings, can be unsettling and, at times, devastating. Still, such losses will never compare to the serious injury or potential death of a child. When bumper stickers reveal information about your children, you could be placing them in unintended danger by giving potential predators too much knowledge.

baseball Let me introduce you to our children, and because they're involved with extracurriculars, we'll be gone most evenings and/or weekends for practices or games.
dirt bike We like expensive toys that you can probably find in our garage.
max We have a small-breed dog that answers to the name "Max".
parking bumper sticker This is where we work.
honor roll This is where our children attend school.
baby on board We'll have our hands full and be distracted when we get where we're going, making us an easy target.
fishing We like outdoor activities and may have expensive equipment at home or possibly in our car. We'll also be gone on most weekends during peak seasons, leaving our house unattended.
oil My spouse is away for extended periods of time.
NJ Plates My personalized license plate is easier to recall, should I unintentionally offend someone or if someone wants to keep track of my vehicle.

Keep these tips in mind that next time you are choosing a bumper sticker:

  • Bumper stickers can reveal important personal information about the driver and family members, which make them more vulnerable to criminal behavior.
  • Stickers can also send a message, political or otherwise, that can aggravate and at times enrage certain groups of people.
  • For some people, such as college-aged women, simply identifying the driver as a member of a vulnerable group can put them at greater risk.
  • Bumper stickers can alert thieves that you may have something of interest to them in your vehicle.
  • Finally, consider this: bumper stickers are often not easily removed and covering a car with bumper stickers can damage your vehicle and certainly reduce resale and trade-in values.

Categories: Science and Technology

For more information, please contact: