MASON CITY, Iowa – We’ve all seen them, the stick figure sticker families on the back of vans or SUV’s that proud parents display, but are they as harmless as they look?
“You know I’ve seen them around and I think they’re kind of cute, then when I did find one that looks like my husband with the tree service, I thought it was too cute to pass up,” says parent Jodi Hardy of Mason City.
She is just one of thousands of proud parents displaying her family bumper stickers.
But the cuteness might stop there.
“There’s been some research done that maybe predators are taking a look at these stickers,” says Investigator with the Mason City Police Department, Jason Hugi.
Predators can get more information from these stickers than you think.
“As far as how many family members there are. If you have a family sticker where someone’s in the military, maybe that looks like their overseas or they’re gone so that’s one less family member in the house,” says Hugi.
From football players to bookworms, there’s a special sticker for that, which tells a lot.
“That would be also indicators for them as far as what activities the kids are in. You know, they have different sizes for the kids so the bigger ones mean they’re probably school aged so they’re going on the bus or they’re in school during the day,” says Hugi.
As for Hardy, she isn’t too concerned.
“You know, I’m not even kind of worried about it. With this one we look kind of non-threatening, we don’t really, we actually home school so it’s not like our kids are gone after school in cheer leading or at dance, we’re kind of around the house,” says Hardy.
She might not be too far off. Our investigator says, most of the time, a predator is someone you know.
“When it comes to children and sexual assaults and those types of things, the higher percentage is usually someone you know. It’s not a stranger that’s just following you behind in traffic and looking at your different stickers. I mean there’s a percentage of those people, but there’s a very high percentage that it’s people that you know,” says Hugi.
So, he doesn’t see too much of a threat with these family pride emblems but one thing is for sure, you always have to be aware of what others can see.
“Be careful what information you’re putting out there, either on your car, on the computer or your phone or whatever, just make sure you know what you’re putting out there and that people have access to it,” says Hugi.
Before you go purchase these stickers for your family car, make sure not to reveal too much. It’s not just these bumper stickers you should think carefully about before sticking to your car, also be wary about school logos and parking identifiers.