Florida’s Dumbest Criminals

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

There are all kinds of dumb. But “dumb and criminal” is hard to beat. Fox Tampa shamelessly (and we appreciate the candor) lets us all know they may take the cake in dumb criminals.

A Bay County man arrested for shoplifting had a request for deputies: let him drink the beer he stole. He became combative when they refused.

A Marion County deputy pulled over a naked man riding a motorcycle. Turns out the cyclist was drunk. He was one of many naked people in the news.

A naked 21-year-old man covered in feces was arrested in Martin County after jumping into a neighbor’s pool. A Clearwater woman knocked on a stranger’s door in the middle of the night asking for cigarettes. She was naked.

A naked 91-year-old Lake Worth man held a 26-year-old burglar at gunpoint until police arrived.
Another burglar trying to rob an elderly man wasn’t so lucky. The 24-year-old broke in to a Liberty County home waving a toy gun and was shot and killed by an 82-year-old homeowner with the real thing.

A Fort Pierce man was charged with stealing $22 worth of aluminum cans from a scrap yard and then returning the next day to try to sell them back. A man tried stealing a live ferret in Jacksonville Beach by stuffing it down his pants. A Dade City man was charged with stealing 19 packages of deodorant to pay off a drug debt.

Usually this works in reverse, but a man was caught trying to break INTO the Brevard County jail he was released from the week before.

Two men wandering through a Deltona neighborhood asked a deputy for a ride home. The deputy said sure, but only after he could search them. They said sure, and the deputy found cell phones, GPS devices and a box of strawberry-flavored Pop Tarts stolen from neighborhood cars.

Crime and food intersected a few times in Florida this past year. Volusia County authorities arrested a 19-year-old after his mother said he threw a taco at her for unplugging his video game system.

A Dunnellon woman was arrested after allegedly hitting a man in the head with a raw steak after he refused a piece of sliced bread. A Gainesville father was arrested for hitting his daughter with a pizza slice when she wouldn’t turn off a computer.

  • Let’s face it, dumb or smart, there are criminals everywhere. The best defense is a good offense; a solid strategy and being smarter than the bad guy (or dumb one).
  • Invest in a home security system and keep it on and monitored 24/7/365.
  • Make sure it has glass break sensors, monitors doors, windows and has motion sensors.
  • Be sure to protect basement windows all the way up to the highest level windows and porch doors for maximum home safety.
  • Install at least a 4-16 cameras surveillance system that can be accessed from the web and has full night vision.
  • Remove or lock up exterior ladders preventing the bad guy from gaining access.
  • Lock all doors and windows when you are home and away. Especially at night and in the summer months too.

See Robert discussing personal and home security on NBC Boston

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

How a Burglar Works

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Without a doubt one of the most difficult jobs on the planet is to be a law enforcement officer. Enforcing the law means constantly dealing with difficult people and situations. They deal with violence, theft and all kinds of disturbances.

One thing’s for sure, they see lots of crime and can learn a lot about what motivates criminals and how to protect yourself from them.

The Wichita Eagle interviewed Officer Joe Seitz to get an explanation on a burglar’s thinking. A burglar will ring the bell or knock on the door to see whether anyone is home. “Most burglars don’t want contact with people,” he said. If someone answers, the burglar might say, “Is Steve here?” Then he says he must have the wrong house before moving on to the next target.

If you are home, Seitz said, “don’t open the door but make it obvious that you are home, by turning on a light or making a noise or talking through the door; who is it?” A burglar who gets no response will try to kick the door open. Part of a sound defense is a dead bolt lock. But a dead bolt is only as good as the screws and strike plate used to secure it to the door frame. The screws should be long enough — about 3 inches — to reach the stud framework of the house.

  • If the screws aren’t long enough, the frame splinters and the door flies open when an intruder kicks it. “A 13-year-old can kick open a door”, Seitz said. Seitz recommends what’s called a high-security strike plate.
  • Incorporate multi layers of protection. Always lock the screen door or storm door. If you open your front door and find the wrong person standing outside, a locked screen door can give you enough time to take defensive measures, “Security’s all about layers”, he said.
  • A home security system is absolutely essential. But it’s a false sense of security if it’s not turned on.
  • It’s not enough to have the alarm on, you also have to lock your doors. ALWAYS!
  • If someone knocks on your door with your doors locked and the alarm on, talk to them through the door.
  • In this situation, you have to make a conscious and concerted effort to shut the alarm off and unlock and open the door to a stranger. When faced with this decision, hopefully you are smart and keep everything locked down.

See Robert discussing personal and home security on Fox Boston

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

Holiday Safety: Post Holiday Home Security

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Most people know the holidays are prime time for burglars to enter your home and steal from you while you are at a friend or family member’s party. They go after unwrapped and new high end items that they can re-sell or “fence” on the “black market”.  It’s pretty obvious who’s home and who is not at home when the lights are off and there is no car in the driveway.

All a burglar has to do is ring a door bell to see of you are actually home. If no one answers they then jiggle the door knob to see if it’s locked or not.  If it’s locked they will head to the back door and jiggle that. Many times they will walk right in because people are often irresponsible and leave the doors unlocked because they believe “it can’t happen to me”. If the doors are locked they may try a few street level or basement windows. Brazen burglars will not waste any time and may break glass or use a crowbar and forcibly enter the residence.

Trash day is coming and they may case a neighborhood looking for boxes where electronics such as computers, flat panel TVs, game consoles and other re-saleable items may be.

For holiday safety, use these holiday home security suggestions:

  1. Lock your doors and windows
  2. Install a monitored alarm system
  3. Give your home the lived in look
  4. Leave the TV on LOUD while you are gone
  5. Install timers on your lights both indoor and outdoor
  6. Close the shades to prevent peeping inside
  7. Use defensive signage
  8. Store item boxes for at least 90 days because if you have a defective product you will need the box for a return
  9. After 90 days tear up the box so it’s undistinguishable then recycle or put it in a black trash bag

See Robert discussing personal and home security on NBC Boston

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

Attempted Bombing of Airplane Highlights “Security Illusion”

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

The attempted bombing of a US airplane is alarming but no major surprise in a post 9/11 world. The terrorist had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body in both a liquid and powder form. The government says that as the flight neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, Christmas Day, he set off the device, but it sparked a fire instead of an explosion.

The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule is 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure. However anyone who travels with any frequency will tell you that liquids and powders of all kinds are often mistakenly and sometime purposefully taken through security.

The Christmas’ days attempt reminds many of the case of Richard Reid, who was arrested after he tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his shoe while on an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight in 2001. Security is one guy trying to use his shoes to blow up a plane and millions have to remove them every day as a result.

Helen Keller once said that “security is an illusion; life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I’ve always been fond of that quote but do not fully agree with it. “Security theater,” a relatively new term, consists of security countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security.

It is important to understand that security is more than, but in part illusion and theater. The illusion, like a magic act, looks very real and in many cases believable. Theater, is the show that is put on to give the illusion impact. Both play a role in deterring a criminal but neither add up to 100% security, as 100% security is unattainable.

But imagine if there were no security checkpoints, no metal detectors, no cameras, no alarms, no restrictions on liquids, no pat downs, no removing of shoes. Imagine if the TSA and all citizens took the “throw your hands in the air and give up” approach and elected for convenience over security. Tragedy would have certainly come, and come much sooner.

Home security isn’t completely an illusion. It is elusive, but it is attainable. Home security requires persistence, due-diligence and an investment of time, energy and a little money. Criminals often seek the path of least resistance. They will continue to wiggle doorknobs until they find one unlocked. Home security is layers of protection. The more layers in place, the more difficult you make it for the bad guy to do his job.

  1. Form a neighborhood watch
  2. Call a locksmith
  3. Install alarm systems
  4. Install security cameras
  5. Install exterior lighting
  6. Apply stickers and signage alerting protective measures
  7. Give your home the lived in look
  8. Put a big dog bowl on your porch that says “Killer” creating an “illusion”

See Robert discussing terrorists in your back yard on CNN

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

Pope Attack Brings Security Home

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, holidays or not, security needs to be top of mind. On Christmas Eve the Pope was knocked to the ground in a terrifying security scare just hours before his traditional Christmas Day message. The perpetrator jumped over security barriers and dived on top of 82-year-old Benedict XVI, dragging him to the floor.

The woman, who is said to have a history of mental problems, was involved in a similar incident last Christmas Eve. Both incidents were captured on video surveillance highlighting the importance or recorded video. Each time the Pope’s security guards apprehended the offender, but this time a few seconds too late.

Some may remember back in 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot. Shortly after, the “Pope Mobile” became a required form of transportation for him that allowed the Pope to be viewed publicly.

Generally, when a security incident occurs the video footage is viewed and officials determine what should be done in the future to prevent such acts.

In my own view, it seems not much was done since last year to prevent this year’s assault on the Pope. It’s obvious to me that the limited 4 foot high fence/barrier between the Pope and his congregation isn’t sufficient to prevent another attack. I would bet you will see a 6-8 foot barrier next year, possibly made of a bullet proof plastic preventing a tragedy.

For your own safety, develop a personal security mindset. This means thinking proactively by asking “what if” questions and visualizing possibilities. By predicting and then preventing bad things from happening, you are actively involved in your personal security and that of your families.

See Robert discussing personal and home security on Fox Boston

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

*Content expressed in Home Security Source does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Help Prevent Home Robberies

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Robbery as defined in Wikipedia is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery differs from simple theft in its use of violence and intimidation.

In Lewisville, Texas the Star Local News Courier Gazzette reports a woman was just arriving home when she was confronted by a subject with a knife. He attacked her and stole her wallet. This victim also fought back and was able to take the suspect’s knife away from him, causing him to flee the location.

That’s a pretty awful situation, but one that the victim successfully survived and even made the attacker run. Many of us are told that when you are attacked to let it happen so it doesn’t get any worse. In some cases that may be your only option. Studies have also shown that fighting back is a better option. Showing resistance and making it difficult for your attacker to do their job often helps you get to safety.

The fact that she was attacked right at her home is disturbing. There are some things that can be done to reduce the chances that your home is targeted for robbery:
1. Make sure you have an acute awareness of your environment when you are getting out of your car and walking to your destination. If anything feels wrong seek safety immediately.
2. Install outdoor lighting that may keep the bad guy away.
3. Use your cell phone when in a less than secure situation so anyone paying unwanted attention sees help is close by.
4. Make sure your home has a lived in look so from outside your home may look like a tougher target, again, help is close by.
5. Install security cameras.
6. Have a panic button for your home alarm that calls for help and sends a screaming alarm.
7. Use your car alarms to draw attention.
8. Always run to safety when attacked. The worse thing you can do is nothing.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

See Robert discussing personal and home security on Fox Boston

*Content expressed in Home Security Source does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Burglars Prey On Churches

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

It doesn’t matter where, when or who, a burglar will go where there is easy access and easy money, or goods to be resold. The Miami Herald reports a burglar has holy targets for his unholy acts.

Targeting synagogues, churches and a Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in Miami Beach, the man steals expensive audio equipment and cash from collection boxes, police say.

Apparently it’s a male who “looks like everyone else” which is what they all say. Opposed to he looks like one of those aliens with the big eyes and big heads with little hands and a skinny neck and he is green. Burglars generally look like people because they are. The only thing that would make them stand out is if they are disheveled. Which may mean they are homeless or on a heavy drinking or drug binge.

Otherwise expect burglars to be normal. Someone you may even know. Often it’s those on the inside that have knowledge of how things work and where they are. So it’s important to beef up security to protect from the inside out and from the outside in.

In some cases, he has entered through unlocked doors; in others, he has broken windows and busted doors off of their frames. Outdoor surveillance video caught him getting picked up by a cab following one burglary.

“He had a good line. He claimed to be having an appointment with me and was let in,” Geller said. The rabbi, who was out of town, returned to find speakers, amplifiers and a guitar missing from the synagogue.

A security camera at the synagogue caught footage of the thief, from which police have pulled a grainy photo.

The man stole electronics, TV speakers, cash, credit cards and more.

Theft happens. Protect against it.

  1. Lock up. Even if it’s an “open access” environment.
  2. Have someone always watching the door.
  3. Install visible motion sensitive security cameras everywhere recorded by a DVR.
  4. Install hidden motion sensitive security cameras everywhere recorded by a DVR.
  5. Install “Monitored by Video Surveillance” signs everywhere.
  6. Lock doors and windows always.
  7. Install glass break prevention film.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for HomeSecuritySource.com See him in action discussing holiday scams on Fox’s Mike and Juliet show. (Disclosures)

*Content expressed in Home Security Source does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Homeowner Jailed While the Burglar He Attacked Walks Free

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

There are few scenarios as disturbing as one’s home being burglarized or invaded. The thought of having an uninvited person enter your property while you are home or not, and then taking your stuff, holding you or your family hostage or committing violent acts is an unthinkable event most people are unprepared for.

A “home invasion”, is the crime of entering a private and occupied dwelling, with the intent of committing a crime, often while threatening the resident of the dwelling. It is not a legally defined offense (federally) in the United States. One would think that when a horrendous crime like this occurs that the intended victim can and should do whatever is possible to defend themselves.

In this disturbing article in the UK, a homeowner fought back and attacked his attacker, freed his family and got 30 months in jail.  This is a USA problem too and unfortunately, is not a new problem. In a court of law, people have been claiming “self defense” since the beginning of time. However, in a litigious society such as ours that defense is often abused which has required the courts to look very close at each incident. Unfortunately, justice isn’t always served and common sense goes out the window.

State to state courts have come to different conclusions as to what a homeowner can and cannot do when defending themselves from a home invasion. It is important to read up and do your homework to determine what your options are and what the laws in your state are.

To prevent a home invasion:

  1. Always lock your doors, even while you are at home
  2. Never open your doors to a stranger no matter who they say they are
  3. Install an alarm system and keep it on during the day while you are home
  1. Install security cameras that record motion 24 hours a day. This would help in court.

See Robert discussing home invasions on the Montel Williams Show

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)