Convicted Burglar; Police Offer Tips for Keeping Home Secure

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

When it comes to breaking into homes, the best experts are the ones who know everything about the process, the burglars themselves.

The burglar in this story, is on probation for a September 2008 burglary conviction, but admits he burglarized 30 or 40 homes to feed a drug addiction.” When I was breaking into houses, the feeling was like you get when you open your presents on Christmas morning and see what you got.”

Imagine if that was your outlook? Think for a moment how warped and anti-social a person must be to process the world in that order.

This burglar prided himself in getting intelligence as to whether or not the homeowner was going to be there or not. He specifically made an effort to seek information prior to determine when they would be gone and when they would come back. Often that type of information is known amongst people close to the thief, often in a trusted position. He says that if you have someone in your life who is an active addict, then they should not be trusted with this type of information.  This is sage advice that should be heeded.

He also suggested stopping mail and newspaper deliveries when you travel, as these are signals to a thief that the house is temporarily vacant. I’ve never been a fan of this tactic due to the fact that your name and address are now on a “stop delivery” list signaling to anyone on the inside of the post office or newspaper delivery service that your house is vacant. I think it’s better to have a trusted friend remove the mail and newspapers daily.

This home burglar also stated he would mostly break into houses where the doors were left unlocked. This is an obvious issue that many people don’t consider due to the fact they are either lazy about their security or they say “I don’t want to live like that.” And I say, “live like what, secure?” It’s always bothered me that some people associated effective home security behavior with “paranoia” which is actually a mental illness and the complete opposite of secure.

Effective home security includes:

  • Timed and/or motion activated lights, inside and out. This burglar stated lights turned on made him nervous and he would go to a home that didn’t pose a threat of getting caught.
  • Trim bushes and shrubs. Anything covering doors and windows that give a burglar cover is an invitation to a thief. I also recommend defensive shrubbery with lots of thorns.
  • Encourage your neighbors to report any suspicious activity around your home while you are gone or even while you are home.
  • Install a home security system. It’s not enough to just lock your doors. A home alarm is an effective deterrent while you are away and while you are home. Even home alarm decals and signage is a layer of protection.
  • Dogs big and small. A dog need not be an attack dog to be an effective deterrent. Barking dogs bring attention to the home they are protecting.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclaimer

Neighbors Tip Leads to Arrest of Burglary Suspect

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Where I live there isn’t much that goes on outside of my home that I don’t know about. I live on a dead end, so I have less traffic both on foot and by car than most. It’s still a well traveled area and I pretty much see every car that drives by, every person that walks down the street and most of the activity that goes on at the neighbor’s house too. Now I’m no nosy neighbor, I could care less what the neighbors do, as long as what they do doesn’t negatively impact me.

But I’m certainly very interested in what a stranger may be doing in the area. Most of us have a routine. We do many of the same things every day and see the same people too, and those people see us. And when someone “outside of the trusted circle” comes around, I want to know why, and what their business is. So like any barking dog, I let them know my presence. I may ask them directly what their business is or strike up a conversation about the weather. While many may not want to be bothered with this effort, I find that this is a very effective way to secure your home.

Two things happen when you engage in this way. First, anyone you address in any manner now knows from that point on for the rest of their lives that “the guy in that house is watching me.” Or is at least aware of his property and who is near or on it. Second, people who you engage this way now become a second set of eyes to watch out for anything suspicious on your home. If they know that you live there, opposed to 6 guys in ski masks, then they may call the police if they see something suspicious.

This is why I love this story:

“Officers had responded to a burglar home alarm and found a broken window in the rear of a residence. A search of the area at the time turned up no suspects. Several neighbors, however, had notified police of a suspicious vehicle that had been seen in the area and were able to provide a good description and license plate number. Police were able to use the information to locate the thief in a nearby town. Police added that it appeared the home alarm had scared the burglar.”

This is a perfect example of layers of protection. The burglar home alarm scared the guy away and the neighbors helped get him arrested. Definitely, install a burglar alarm and make an effort to let people you come in contact with know that your home is one that is security conscious.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security on NBC Boston. Disclaimer

Secure Your Social Media

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

In a shocking instance of high tech harassment, a hacker took over a woman’s Facebook account while she was on a camping trip, with no Internet and no cell phone service. The hacker impersonated this woman, but instead of attempting to scam her family and friends out of cash, he used her Facebook profile to post suicidal messages, including, “My only friend is the handgun in the back of my closet,” and, “I don’t want a funeral or memorial, I want it to be like I never existed.” After two and a half hours of Facebook drama, the victim happened to regain cell phone reception and discovered twenty voicemail messages begging her not to do “anything drastic.” By the time her son was able to get in touch with her, there were police gathered outside her home, preparing to break down the door. This is a nightmare that can happen to anyone.

  1. Strengthen your passwords; use upper/lower case, numbers and characters. Don’t use easily guessed words from the dictionary or pets names and kid’s birthdates, etc.
  2. Don’t access social media from libraries, internet cafes or any public computers that could have spyware.
  3. Make sure your own PC has updated virus definitions and security patches. Be careful with all the 3rd party apps in social media. Many are risky.
  4. Don’t click on links in emails from “friends” asking you to download a video or see pictures. This is becoming a common ruse in social media.
  5. Monitor who has access to your PC in your own home. Babysitters, friends of your children and various contractors in your home can access your information. I have a security camera in my home office that monitors everything 24/7/365.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert discussing social media identity theft on CNN

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

Be Careful about False Alarms At Home

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

We are all familiar with the boy who cried wolf. The protagonist of the fable is a bored shepherd boy who entertained himself by calling out “Wolf!” Nearby villagers who came to his rescue found that the alarms were false and that they had wasted their time. When the boy was actually confronted by a wolf, the villagers did not believe his cries for help and the wolf ate the flock (and in some versions the boy).

Many, if not all of us are guilty of setting off our alarms accidentally. Sometimes we open a door or window that sets it off, other times we mess up the secret code. The result of this mishap is usually a very loud siren and the attention of your neighbors. If you don’t call to cancel in time, then it results in law enforcement showing up.

To give you an idea of how pervasive the problem is, in New Haven Connecticut, 10,000 to 12,000 burglar alarms go off in New Haven every year. Of those alarms, 96% are false. In many counties, towns, cities and states there are laws and ordinances that impose a fine for false alarms.

Not only does a false alarm cause the “boy who cried wolf” effect, it also saps law enforcement resources.

I am just as guilty as anyone of a false alarm. But I’ve never had law enforcement show to my home as a result.

1. Have your service provider set up your alarm system to call your mobile phone first, then your home phone second. If you don’t answer the phone then they will call the police.

2. Program your mobile phone with your alarm service provider’s number and call them the second you falsely set off your alarm. Memorize your PIN so you aren’t fumbling for it.

3. Don’t carry your PIN in your wallet. If your wallet is lost or stolen your address and alarm PIN is in the hands of a stranger.

4. Whenever you are setting up any access for anyone to enter your home while you are gone, your risks for false alarms go up dramatically. Provide specific hands on instruction on how to disable and reset the alarm. Telling someone over the phone how to do it is often insufficient.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert discussing home security on TBS Movie and a Makeover

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

Homeowner’s Screams Scare Burglar from Home

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

What’s the point of having a home alarm system? An alarm system screams when you can’t or when you aren’t there.  Noise has been proven to be an effective deterrent. From birth we are taken by surprise by loud noises. Sirens, screams and big bangs startle us and make us hyper aware of our circumstances.

When someone or something is up to no good a loud notice often scares them away, on purpose, that’s what it’s designed to do. We scream naturally. Screaming is something we do right out of our momma at birth. Screaming brings oxygen to the body which facilitates alertness.

In Norwalk Connecticut a would-be crook was scared off by a female homeowner’s screams after she spotted the strange man in her home, police said.

Police said the complainant heard a noise and initially thought it was her husband entering their house. She went to investigate and saw a strange man walking down her hallway.

When she screamed, he ran out of the house and got into a car.

In most cases something like this can be prevented simply by locking your doors and windows. And by adding an extra layer of protection such as a home alarm system that has a very loud siren and also calls the police, you significantly reduce your chances of a bad guy breaking in to your home.

If burglars do get in, screaming is always a good thing. Scream loud and with intent. I further recommend running out of the house while you are screaming. If you end up trapped in your home with a bad guy that doesn’t want to leave, it can get ugly. Leaving your home and heading to a neighbor’s is always a good thing when possible. If you live in an area where there aren’t neighbors for miles, then build a safe room that you can hide in.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert discussing self defense on CBS Boston

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

Don’t Let Strangers Enter Your Home

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Sounds simple enough right? But when a decent looking affluent couple can breach the Whitehouse and gain entry to a formal party, protected by the Secret Service, then almost anything is possible.

Posing as a health inspector, police officer or even a secret service agent is probably done every single day with success. I once posed as a “water inspector” and gained access to people’s homes by saying I needed to “check the colorization of their water”, as I demonstrated on The Montel Williams Show here. A fake badge and a uniform of any kind can do wonders.

The AP reports a man accused of posing as a U.S. Secret Service agent and entering the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, passed himself off as a Massachusetts police officer to enter a U2 concert last year.

People can easily pose as city officials, delivery or service people, or as someone whose car broke down and needs assistance. The moment you open that door you are risking your family’s safety.

My family’s number one rule is we do not open doors to strangers. That’s it, end of story. My younger ones want to show how big they are by getting the door, but they now know better that they aren’t at all allowed to open it without their parent’s permission.

  1. Always have your screen door and your entry door locked at all times.
  2. Install a surveillance system at each entrance that gives you a facial and full body view of visitors.
  3. If you order products to be delivered to your home specify “no signature required.” This way you can set up a place for the deliveries that allows them to drop the package off.
  4. Anytime a city worker knocks on your door call city hall to verify that they should be there.
  5. It’s not enough to check a badge, license or credentials. IDs can easily be faked.
  6. Have your home alarm system on all day even while you are home.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert discussing being an imposter and home invasions on the Montel Williams Show

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

Reality Show Actor Robs Banks

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Here we have a series of bank robberies, an appearance on a nationally televised reality show and the arrest of a man who was running from the law. Apparently, he robbed a bank, then went on the show, then robbed two more banks after the show.

“What an incredibly stupid thing to do, to commit a bank robbery, then go on a national TV show and make a spectacle of yourself and then come home and commit two more bank robberies,” the detective said. “He should be on the ‘Dumbest Criminal’ show.”

Investigators watched the show on their own time and eventually recognized the reality show actor also on surveillance footage from the bank robberies.

The detective linked two robberies thanks to the surveillance video showing what looked like the same young man wearing a baseball cap. He stated “I didn’t recognize him at the time; that’s the last place where you’d expect to find a suspect in your cases.”

The robber/actor told somebody, “Now that I’ve been on national TV, something from my past may come back to get me.” Ya think?

If there is one single technology that I would have to pick from over the past 50 years as the absolute best of the best it is definitely video. In three words “video captures life”. And in this case, it captured a criminal. A dumb one at that.

Install video surveillance around your home. Have cameras at the entrance way, on each corner of the house surveying the entire perimeter, all entrances and exits and whatever “blind spots” where someone may hide.  Even put a few cameras inside your home that monitor your family and the entrances. Video ROCKS!

See Robert discussing bank robberies on CBS Boston

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

11 Robbed of Pants in Home Invasion, Drug Related

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

At least three masked men broke into a home, made 11 people inside remove their pants, shot one man and fled with the pants, their contents and televisions.

You’re probably wondering why they would steal someone’s pants? Police said the robbers apparently made the victims remove their pants so they could steal their wallets and other belongings as well as to prevent them from pursuing the robbers when they fled.

The reports states that the crime might have been a drug related one. Criminals often target criminals. “There is no honor among thieves” as they say. It’s very common for one bad guy to break into another bad guy’s house if he has drugs or stolen items because the bad guy isn’t about to report his contraband to the police.

The problem here that I’ve seen too many times is the home broken into and burglarized (no gun nobody home) or robbed (weapon involved, often a home invasion) is often one that is owned by a legitimate law abiding citizen, but their teenage or adult child living at home is mixed up in stuff they shouldn’t be.

This is a real problem that many families face. You may be blissfully unaware of your child’s involvement with crime or you conveniently turn a blind eye.

If something seems wrong, something is wrong and don’t for a second think it’s a “phase”. These things can get very ugly, very fast. Signs often include your child being secretive (they all are) or your kids ducking in and out of the house with bags or boxes. They may begin to enter in the house via the basement or garage where they didn’t use too. If they are associating with shady people that’s a red flag. If their behavior seems suspicious in any way pay closer attention than you ever have.

One way to protect yourself and your family is to have a constant monitoring or your home with video surveillance. This way everything going on is recorded and this may reduce the chances of a child gone astray using your house as a safe house.

Always have your home alarm on and make sure it’s monitored by the local police.

The idea is to make your home a tougher target from outside forces or inside jobs.  The worst thing you can do is nothing.

See Robert discussing home invasions on the Gordon Elliot Show

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

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)