The Mom’s Beat: It’s time to declare an end to the stick figure decals

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by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser

 Last April Fools’ Day, my mom pulled a pretty good trick on me. While I was at work and my car was parked in the parking lot, she came by with my kids, and they placed four of those stick figure decals representing our family on the rear windshield.

 As I left work later in the day, I actually thought my car had been stolen from the parking lot before I realized that my vehicle would be the one with those dumb stickers on the back. I must have walked by it three times, thinking “That’s not mine” before realizing that sadly, it was.

Submitted/This image was released by RACE, an all volunteer, non-profit - Search & Rescue and Disaster Response team. Submitted/This image was released by RACE, an all volunteer, non-profit - Search & Rescue and Disaster Response team.  

Luckily, the stickers were removable or I would have sold the car, and now a nonprofit search and rescue organization in Ohio is justifying my aversion to them by warning the community about some of the dangers they can pose.

 “Are you giving free information to criminals?” the group’s Facebook post questions. Several police departments around the country are also cautioning residents about sharing that much information as well.

 I have to admit that I now feel vindicated in what my friends and family used to say was a crazy paranoia of mine. Maybe I cover too much crime in my job, but I never wanted to partake in the practice of placing those stick figure decals on the back of my minivan.

 The stickers reveal who and how old your children are, where they attend school, where they attend gymnastics, where they play lacrosse and so on.

  It’s like serving up your children’s full daily schedule on a platter and providing the first course of conversation. I imagine a perpetrator might say, “Hi Sarah, you play soccer with my daughter at the park. Come with me, and I’ll show you some of her new gear in my creepy old van.”

 You’ve seen these things in nearly every theme: There’s the runner mama, the papa with the briefcase, and all of the babies, partnered with an activity of their choosing from rattle shaking to touchdown scoring. Your pets can be listed too. Little pups and kitties can appear, also giving criminals an easier way to scout out their marks.

 It never appealed to me to list our avocations or pastimes on our motor vehicle for all to see. To me, it’s like saying, “Here you go, weirdo: Have at them!”

 The people who matter to us already know who we are and what we like, so why does everyone else need to know?

 Now, before everyone gets upset with me, let me state I have friends that have them and there’s no judgment from my part or theirs. I used to believe it was just one of my many idiosyncrasies, but now after seeing the warning by this group who lists scores of missing people around the country on a daily basis, I feel my instincts may have been correct.

 Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Connect with her via email at   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat.

Read more of The Mom’s Beat HERE. 

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