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Why People Respect Private Property Signs

March 9, 2020

Homeowners and business owners may wonder how effective private property signs are. One of the keys has to do with the laws in your particular state. In some states, trespassing can lead to serious fines and even jail time, while in other states, penalties are not as severe. Here are important reasons why these signs command respect in certain communities.

State and Local Law

Not only does every state have its own laws about how private property is protected, each local jurisdiction may also have its own regulations about it. In Arizona, for example, state law A.R.S. 13-1502 generally requires that property owners must post a reasonable notice that prohibits entry.

Meanwhile, in the city of Phoenix, businesses can submit an “Authority to Arrest for Trespass” online form through the Phoenix Police Department. Police can then make an arrest after hours, provided the establishment has posted “No Trespassing” signs at conspicuous common entrances to the area.

In Arizona, trespassing is separated into three degrees. The first degree is the most severe and can potentially result in felony charges and up to 18 months in prison. In order to get charged in the first degree, the trespasser would have to enter or remain on the property unlawfully. If they burned, defaced, or manipulated a religious symbol without permission, they could be charged with criminal trespassing in the first degree. The penalty might also include up to a $150,000 fine.

The charge would only be a misdemeanor if the trespasser entered a fenced residential yard and violated the owner’s privacy. While this charge would be lighter, it still could result in up to 6 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. Third degree criminal trespassing, in which a trespasser fails to leave after the owner asks them to, is a misdemeanor with a fine up to 30 days in prison and $500. No matter what the charge is, trespassing can be an expensive violation.

Proper Message for Private Property Signs

The message on your private property sign must be clear that you will enforce the law against trespassers. Regardless of the specifics of the state law, it’s important to warn the trespasser with a sign before taking action. One of the keys that defines trespassing is that the violator knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on a property. Posting the law or statute number at the bottom of the sign helps communicate the owner is familiar with the law and intends to enforce it with the help of the local police.

A sign that just says “Private Property” or “Keep Out” can still deter people from loitering on your property. But the more messages you give them that uninvited guests are unwelcome, the better. Adding CCTV security video cameras near the sign is another strong deterrent, along with neighborhood watch signs. Warning strangers that all activity is caught on video helps scare them away.

All private property signs should be displayed in an obvious way, such as on trees or fences where they can be clearly read. Video cameras should be treated the same way.

Sign placement is another consideration, as the signs should be mounted with permanent screws. The signs should be placed high enough so they cannot be tampered with and avoid obstructing traffic. The most secure way to post a sign is on metal or the side of a building.


Most people respect “No Trespassing” signs due to strict laws against loitering. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California, or Washington location for more information on private property signs. We can also help with a wide range of other signage.

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