JFF: Is It Illegal to Have a Booby Trap in Your Yard?

Updated on June 18, 2011
M.H. asks from Marquette, MI
19 answers

Somebody suggested this to me and I thought it was hilarious. Can you legally do it though?

can they sue you if they are on your property?

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

when I was a kid we used to set booby traps all over the woods on our property. I wasn't thinking of doing anything harmful, just some noise makers if someone opened the shed or possibly some paint balloons. nothing that could hurt MY kids, just scare away the people stealing stuff.

More Answers


answers from Modesto on

yes, it is unforturnately. You cant even barb wire your fence these days without a special permit. I think that is the most outrageous thing ever. You should be able to protect your property. It's insane that if an intruder get hurt in yard by an electric fence, barbed wire, or even your dog, YOU become the guilty party. What the hell is wrong with this world anyway?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Just like everything else you want to add in your home or yard you'd probably have to obtain a permit :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm an insurance agent in AZ. Jo G is right. Insurance does not cover "intentional acts" which is you putting a booby trap in your yard. So there you have it...although in theory...lots of us would LOVE to do it! :o)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Daytona Beach on

home owner liability insurace. if someone is walking by your house and breaks/sprains or anything they can sue you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If you are having problems with people stealing stuff and that's the reason for the booby traps, then get some video survelience camers that are set to turn on with a motion dector. Show the videos to the police.

My boss had a problem with people thinking it was fun to ride across the front lawns and knock down mail boxes with their car. After it happened for the 4th of 5th time he put in a new mail box on a 4X4 post. Then he took 4 8X8 railroad ties and burried them 2 feet in the ground and about 2 feet above the ground around this 4X4 post. Then he planted 12 privet hedge bushes around the 4 railroad ties surrounding the 4X4 post with the mail box on it. He planted another 20 or so privet bushes across his front yard. About 2 months later, he heard a crash in the front yard. He looked out the window and a car had crashed into his mailbox post. He never went outside. A tow truck hauled the old car away. He never lost another mail box and he never had another car run across his front yard.

He said he got the idea from a friend of his that had cars run a stop sign on a street that ended on his street. If it was winter and the car couldn't stop on the ice or snow or because they were drunk and driving too fast the car would end up in his livingroom. After the second time when the car almost killed him and his wife while they sat on their couch in their livng room, he decided to landscape his front lawn. He went to a company that supplied landscape rocks. He dug a hole about 1 foot deep and large enough to accept a landscape rock. Then the company that sold landscape rock, brought out a large rock and put it in the hole he had dug. It was at the street, but right in front of his living room. The rock was rounded and stuck up about 3 feet above the ground. He planted low growing flowering shrubs around the rock. No more cars entered his home via the front yard.

Good luck to you and yours.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

i got the image of a neighbor kid getting pulled up by a tree trap and dangling upside down!,,,,lol

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We moved here from Europe many years ago and my dad jokingly told me that if you hurt anyone in America, make sure you hurt them dead or else they will sue you. Indeed anything in/on your property that can hurt anyone is your liability. We have horses next door and there is even such a thing as an "attractive nuisance" which horses are - kids want to come over and pet them and could lose fingers etc., and this increases your insurance. Our neighbor's dog likes to use our woodpile as his bathroom and my husband joked we should electrify it so when he pees he gets a shock, but again, we would be held liable if he was hurt even though his owner's are breaking the law by being off leash. America has crazy liability laws - in Europe you pay ALL court costs (lawyers for both sides, judge, chamber costs, administrative costs, etc. VERY expensive) when you enter into a suit and lose, so folks are much less likely to sue.
There was a lawsuit in Georgia I believe many years ago where a man set up a shotgun to go off when someone entered the house through a window, the burglar got hurt, sued the owner and WON. So, yes, I think it would be illegal to booby trap.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Guess you'll have to check your local laws, as everywhere has their own local stuff. The only experience I have personally with "yard traps" was an old lady down the way lived on the parade route in New Orleans and people were always urinating in her yard. She told the police several times, but they told her that the crowd was too big, her flowers were not high priority, she could NOT have an officer placed by her yard to guard the flowerbeds from pee. So, she ran electric wire along the property, and a couple drunks got a little shock when they urinated in her yard. The police were called to her home, and they made her take the wire down.....but they did put an officer there (since they had to have them along the parade route anyway). As far as someone suing you: remember the big story that made headlines everywhere from a million years ago, when someone broke someone's house, got stuck in the garage and couldn't get out, had to eat dog food until the family returned from a trip and he successfully sued? Or that time when someone was trying to break in and hurt himself, and sued. So, I would guess that unless things in the system got fixed since then, yeah you could probably get in trouble if someone was hurt. Motion sensory lights, video cameras, a yappy dog would be the direction I'd go if you had an issue. Once, police were doing surveillance on my mom's neighbors (drug dealers). They were hiding, we didn't know it but we had suspicions of "something" and went to the police several times (footprints in the garden, trampled flowers, a noise in the night, etc). The police never told us anything. Then one day a policeman saw someone trying to break into the neighbor's (drug) house with a gun and took off running, tried to cut across our backyard. But in the dark he didn't see some pots and a fence and he crashed into it, and mom's 7 dogs come tearing out of the back porch where they slept all at once barking up a storm. We heard a loud expletive yelled under the window where we were watching tv, dogs going crazy, and my brother stepped outside with a gun. The police came to us and our OTHER neighbors the next morning to tell us what was up (so we didn't shoot a cop?)----the man had terrified us, since we didn't know he was creeping around our yard in the middle of the night. At least then we knew to ignore the strange "quiet" noises and the drug house was busted and everyone jailed shortly after, thank goodness!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Is that a real thing? It sounds like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My insurance basically says any known or possible (like, if you can even *think* it might happen) hazards are our liability. In other words, if you get busted, you're totally on your own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Umm, not sure but the board with HUGE nails nailed thru it stopped our yard from being a "cut thru" yard. That and the addition of a 'fercious' pit bull...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm so thinking about Home Alone right now. Funny stuff. Let me know how it turns out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Put up "no trespassing" signs, and if you have a dog put up "beware of dog" signs. People can sue you for dog bites if your dog is protecting your home EVEN IF they came onto your property to do harm so you need to protect yourselves and your dog with "beware of dog" signs.

If there's theft or property damage occurring I would file police reports when it happens in case it's happening to other neighbors as well. You never know if you're the ones who could help catch the perp.

If you can afford it I would set up surveillance videos and motion sensor lights too. We have a security system and we set up the sign and put the company stickers on our windows around the house as warnings to try to deter anyone from breaking in. Our security system is set up on three doors and we have motion sensors on all of our windows. If anything gets tripped the alarms go off and the security company tries to call us. If they can't get us then they call the police who come directly to the house and check things out. One time the cats managed to open our basement door, my cell phone was off during a meeting, so the police came in our back door and looked around. We got home and everything was all right. But thank goodness we had the system to let us know what happened.


answers from Denver on

Hmmm interesting, maybe if you post a warning booby trap sign in your yard. And I dont believe it could inflict any pain or harm. Maybe a few eggs sporadically placed around the yard with some sling shots. The warning sign would have to be a must kind of like beware of dog, that sign warns people and if they get bit by your dog in your yard with that sign i believe all legality is waived (could be wrong though)



answers from Philadelphia on

Many of the responses on here are reminders of suits where people lost to people who came onto their property. The law has started to change. Here in PA the law is pretty clear - if you post no trespass signs and some one is on your property without your consent you are NOT liable for what happens to them. Laws change and they will always swing. This too, will get out of hand and the laws will start to swing the other way.


answers from Biloxi on

I would think if someone was injured on your property due to a boobytrap that you installed, whether you had a warning posted or not, that they could file a claim against the medical portion of your homeowners insurance.

Just a random thought while I am passing through.

Tho' the thought is truly funny



answers from Los Angeles on

Where I live I am sure I would get sued. Make sure your homeowner's policy will cover an accident. You could make it less intentional though... so it doesn't really look like it was set up on purpose...


answers from Seattle on

My brother in law put spikes in their lawn one winter. some kids up the street had four wheelers. They would spin out the tires in my sisters front yard. They talked to the parents..and grandparents of the kids...They didnt speak English and didnt seem to care.

So, my brother in law laid down spikes. I am not sure how big or anything. He also posted a sign saying keep of the lawn. The kids still road through...messed up their tires.

I would like to be able to say they learned their lesson. But they have not. The same kids have given us hell over the last few months(they have stolen stuff outta our garage and front yard). The dad is a drug head and could care less what his kids do, and the mama is probably too afraid to act on anything outta fear she will get beat.

So, is it illegal...I have no clue. Yes it is your property. I think booby trapping it would be some kind of criminal mischief though. not to mention what would happen if say a young kid out for a walk accidentally walked through your yard and got hurt. That would be sad...and unfortunate for all involved.

IF someone was to get injured on your property from the booby Trap you will be held 100% responsible. I have to remember to shut the garage if we are not out front. Last summer our next door neighbors kids would let themselves in if it was up and they would get into stuff....I was not aware of at the time, how much trouble I could find myself in had someone got hurt...regardless of whether or not I knew they were there. I now also keep it shut from the kids stealing though too.



answers from Washington DC on

If it is posted the law is on your side. Like Beware of dog, so when my dog bites someone, they have been warned.
Premises under surveillance works too.
We have a driveway alarm and a video system that monitors all doors and the basement.

Next question: Neighbors Trespassing-- Kids & Adults All the Time!