eBay sells security stickers to consumers

Saturday, March 1, 2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. - People visiting the popular Internet auction site eBay can purchase just about anything from stuffed bears to used cars.

While the wide variety of items for sale is good for the consumer, some in the security industry are concerned that users are selling security alarm stickers and yard signs to consumers who believe they will gain protection without installing a system.

A recent search of eBay showed more than 20 separate auctions of security window stickers. While a majority of those auctions involved generic stickers with no specific company name, several offered stickers for sale from nationally known alarm companies.

David Mandel, marketing and membership director for the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, said just displaying a window sticker without the accompanying system, can provide a false sense of security.

“The signage and decals indicating that you have an alarm system are certainly part of the deterrence value of the alarm system,” Mandel said.

“But I do not think that it is in any way, shape, or form a substitute (for an alarm system). There is no data that indicates that there is any value with a fake alarm sticker.”

Others in the industry are not as concerned about the issue.

Tony Smith, owner of Security Finance Associates in Pasadena, Calif., said the private resale of such items as window stickers and yard signs has been going on for years. “But never in a major way, and I don’t think it’s going on in a major way now,” he said.

Becky Shuber of Akron, Ohio, who was selling a set of stickers for sale on eBay, said she got the idea to sell the stickers after her sister-in-law bought a similar set on eBay.

According to Shuber, her sister-in-law could not afford the monthly monitoring fee of an alarm system, and bought the sign to discourage door-to-door solicitors.

After her sister-in-law’s experience, Shuber said she decided to list the stickers for sale “because I thought it might help someone else out.”

While no dealers have taken legal action in response to the private sale of their stickers over the Internet, a representative from one company, who declined to be identified, said his company is looking into its legal rights pursuant to possible trademark infringement.

Mandel adds there is no in-dustrywide program to address the issue of the private sale of materials such as yard signs and stickers, saying that most companies deal with the issue on an individual basis.