How to Secure Your Home or Business On the Cheap

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, your home is at risk of being burglarized. According to numerous studies, in the US alone, a burglary occurs about once every 18 seconds, which equates to about 5,000 a day.

5WFortunately, you can secure your home or business against burglary, and it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Here are 5 ways that you can get peace of mind on the cheap:

  1. Repurpose Your Smartphone
    If you are like most, you probably have an old smart phone hanging around just collecting dust in a drawer. For free or a small fee, you can download apps for both Android and iPhone devices that allow your smart phone to become a surveillance system with almost no effort on your part. Simply search “Surveillance app” in your devices app store.
  2. Speaking of Cameras…
    Of course, you can always just buy a surveillance camera for your business or home. These are often network cams and are easy to use and affordable. These low cost security cameras are often motion-activated cameras that sends a live stream and alerts to the user’s smartphone via the cameras app. Some of the features to look for include:

    • Night Vision
    • Wide-angle lens
    • Siren
    • Automatic detection of animals

    You can buy the systems at major retailers, and it start as low as $50.00.

  3. Set Up Some Tripwires
    Sometimes simple and traditional is best, and tripwires can really do a nice job of protecting your home or business, and you can get them for as little as $20. In fact, with a bit of ingenuity, you can even make your own. Some of them have a loud sound, too, similar to a gunshot, which will seriously scare anyone who is sneaking around where they shouldn’t be. These are low-tech and perfect for anyone wanting to beef up their other security systems, as a multi-layer approach to security is best. Search “trip wire alarm” on eBay or YouTube for all kinds of options.
  4. Get a Guard Dog
    If the traditional approach appeals to you, consider a guard dog. People have been using guard dogs to protect their property since the time of Ancient Rome, and one of the most popular breeds for this type of work is the German Shepherd, Doberman or Belgian Malinois. These dogs are large, strong, and intimidating, and you definitely wouldn’t want to cross paths with one that was trained to keep you off its property. Just keep in mind, whatever breed you choose, that you must get a professional trainer for the best results.
  5. Make a Pact With Your Neighbors
    One of the best ways to protect your property is to work with your neighbors and keep an eye on each other’s homes. For example, if you know your neighbor is going on vacation and you have more than one car, park one of them in their driveway. This way, it looks as if someone is home. You also should take their mail in because burglars know if there is a lot of mail in the box, the home or business owner likely isn’t around.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Idiot Burglar takes Selfie

About 7 a.m. on a Saturday a burglar entered a home through an unlocked side door (how anyone can sleep overnight while a door stays unlocked is a whole new article).

3BThe dumb criminal saw an iPhone and unknowingly triggered a video selfie—showing him standing in the living room during this recent L.A. crime—while three residents were fast asleep including two teen girls. (Again, why didn’t the adult of the home, a woman, lock all the doors…)

A similar scene played out in the UK when a woman tried to unlock a hot iPhone. It had an app called iGotYa. This application automatically sends a photo to the owner.

Another case has the owner of a phone receiving an e-mail of a photo of a man who tried to access the phone with a wrong PIN.

These “got ya” moments can happen to an innocent finder of a lost phone.

There’s yet another case of a man who apparently stole a phone on the beach while its lax female owner went skinny dipping. This occurred in Dubai, and the thief was not able to figure out how to switch off the auto-photo upload tool. As a result, a video ensued called “Life of a stranger who stole my iPhone.”

There are easier ways to locate a lost phone than a “got ya” type app, though this application might one day come in handy for the woman whose unlocked door let in the burglar—who is still at large and nameless.

Android

  • Google has a “Find My Phone” tool. Just type this into the Google search engine and take it from there.
  • There are many paid and free apps that provide numerous commands for remote control such as wiping data, locking the phone, setting off an alarm and resetting the passcode.

Apple

  • Apple has “Find my iPhone”.
  • The lost phone is tracked.
  • Users can remotely wipe it.
  • Just locking it (without wiping it) can still leave messages viewable to anyone who comes upon the phone.

A “kill switch” would allow the phone’s owner to remotely wipe all data and render the phone unusable. In California a new law was passed mandating that, starting this past July, all mobiles sold in the state must have a kill switch.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Police offer 18 Burglary Prevention Tips

To help keep your home and property safe from crime, the New Castle County Police Department provides the following guidelines:

  1. Sounds like a no-brainer, but so many people do otherwise: Keep your doors locked at all times. People will actually go to sleep with the front door unlocked.
  2. Doors should be locked with a deadbolt that has at least a one-inch throw.
  3. Keep windows locked. People have been known to leave a window open overnight in their child’s bedroom. Yes, hot weather is here, but there are ways to ventilate rooms without inviting burglars and rapists in. A bad guy could easily, and quietly, remove a screen.
  4. Check all your windows; all should have locks.
  5. All sliding doors and windows should have a block in the track.
  6. The garage door should never be open unless it’s in use. This includes when you’re outdoors doing yardwork—it’s not in use while you’re tending the garden or lawn.
  7. Check the window A/C units: They should be very difficult to remove.
  8. Close curtains and blinds at night. This means when it begins getting dusky.
  9. Your house number should be easy to read, ideally large, reflective numbers.
  10. Lighting should be installed at all entrances: front, side and back.
  11. Install a timed lighting system to make it look like someone is always home.
  12. Make sure there are no trees or brush obscuring entrances, as burglars can hide more easily.
  13. Don’t leave ladders out in the yard because you don’t have the energy after doing a project to return them to the garage. Unless you just became overcome with severe food poisoning, you can hustle that ladder back into the garage.
  14. Don’t hide keys under the welcome mat or anyplace else outside.
  15. Garage door openers should not be visible inside your car. Neither should valuables, even a pricey pair of sunglasses.
  16. Leave a TV on when you go out at night.
  17. Never post travel plans on social media.
  18. Never create a voicemail message that indicates you’re not home.

On that last point…it’s amazing that people will actually leave a message like, “We’re not home right now, so please leave your name, number and a message…”

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to hide your Cash at Home

It’s good to have a stash of cash for emergencies. If the grid goes down and the power goes out, an ATM or bank does you no good. But there are security issues too. Where do you put it? A safe is certainly a smart idea. You can get creative too.

1SWhat burglar would not think to look under a mattress for money? The mattress isn’t exactly a most ingenious place to stash money. However, if you have lots to stash, and put just a little under the mattress, this decoy could trick a burglar into thinking that there’s no other hidden money to search for.

At any rate, whether you want to go the decoy route or avoid the mattress altogether, here are some great locations for hiding cash in an envelope.

  • Inside an old sock (roll up the envelope)
  • Taped to the bottom of a low shelf or drawer (e.g., bottom of sock drawer)
  • Think of other places to tape the envelope: back of refrigerator, bottom of crib, bottom of sofa, top of sink cabinet, top of interior of the credenza, etc.
  • Inside a Tupperware container in the freezer
  • Beneath the passenger seat of your car
  • Inside a Band-Aid container or empty vitamin bottle (tightly roll up a wad of cash)
  • Inside a bible. There’s that saying, “A person who would steal would never open a bible, and a person who’d open a bible would never steal.”
  • Inside a picture frame between the support and the photo
  • In an empty cereal box, rice box or canister that once contained oatmeal flakes, protein powder, ground coffee or whatever
  • Inside a muddy pair of boots that you never wear
  • Underneath a heavy potted artificial plant (a real plant, since it gets watered, would require a saucer to separate the envelope from the bottom of the pot).
  • Between the stack of paper in your printer (but when you use the machine, remove that stack and insert a second stack for actual use, then when done, replace it with the stack that contains the envelope).
  • Taped to the inside of the door to the electrical cabinet
  • Inside a photo album
  • Inside a fake electric wall socket (these can be purchased)

Ask your kids to come up with additional ideas; you never know just what “crazy” but clever idea a child will come up with.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Myths Facts and Burglary Prevention

Myth: Most burglaries occur at night when nobody can see the intruder.

1HFact: Most burglaries occur during the day because criminals know that’s the most likely time that people are away at work.

Myth: Most burglaries are random and spontaneous.

Fact: Most burglaries occur after the thief has “cased” a residence and pre-meditated an intrusion and getaway plan.

If a thief has not gotten into your house within four minutes of trying, chances are he’ll abandon further attempts. Using multiple layers of protection from intruders will make entry take well over four minutes.

If your neighborhood doesn’t have a “watch” program, get one started.

  • Get to know your neighbors; they’ll be more likely to call the police if they notice someone unfamiliar loitering on your property.
  • Post neighborhood watch signs throughout the area.

Secure the exterior of your house.

  • Install lights at all entry points including the garage; it’s best if they can detect motion.
  • Don’t allow shrubs to grow above window sill height.
  • Don’t let tree branches obscure windows.
  • Plant thorny shrubs around windows so burglars can’t hide in them.
  • Lock all gates and fences.
  • Keep all potential entry points locked, including basement wells and the door to the attached garage.
  • Make the interior always look occupied by never letting the grass get overgrown or snow unshoveled; while traveling arrange for someone to do these tasks.
  • Also when traveling put a vacation stop on mail and newspaper deliveries.
  • Never leave the garage door open.

And then there is your house’s interior:

  • Install a security system that includes loud alarms. The sirens really do scare off would-be intruders, plus alert neighbors.
  • Use timed lighting systems so that while you’re away, it’ll appear that the house is occupied. Timers can also be set for TVs.
  • If you’re gone for a while and especially for travel, set your phone’s answering system so that voice mail picks up after only a few rings.
  • Consider getting a dog.
  • Keep valuables locked in a fire proof safe.
  • Doors should have a complete security system that includes top-flight deadbolts.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Small Town investigates String of Burglaries

Home burglaries don’t just happen in the big cities that everyone’s heard of. They can also occur in small towns—simply because the burglar lives in them or in neighboring areas. Such is the case with Kirksville, Missouri.

2BA recent report from heartlandconnection.com tells of multiple burglaries. They have elements in common: The thief enters overnight while the occupants are asleep and takes cash.

Are the homes’ occupants very hard of hearing and can’t hear the window smashing or the door being kicked down? Did they all take a few sleeping pills and were thus in a very heavy sleep and that’s why they didn’t hear the windows smashing or the door being busted through?

Or…do you suppose that a DOOR or WINDOW WAS UNLOCKED and that’s how the burglar got in?

Don’t be a victim!

  • Before going to bed at night, what do you always do without fail? Brush your teeth. Let the dog out for one last “business.” Set the clock alarm. Lay out your clothes for next day. Is something missing here? Yes! LOCK ALL DOORS AND WINDOWS.
  • Have a deadbolt installed and other protective devices for doors.
  • Keep doors and windows locked during the day, too—even when you’re home.
  • Have a motion detection light installed.
  • Put away the purse, wallet, credit cards, checkbook and loose money…just in case someone does get in. The last place burglars usually check is the kids’ bedrooms. Consider stashing your purse and wallet in a shoebox in the toy box.
  • You can also put these items in a fire-proof safe that’s bolted to the floor.
  • Never keep the spare key “hidden” outside anywhere. Leave it with a neighbor or go keyless entry.
  • Before going away on trips, arrange with someone to check your home periodically.
  • Don’t leave any light on continuously; this looks like you’re away. Used timed lighting devices.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

10 Ways to protect Yourself while traveling

Some thieves specialize in hanging around tourist spots to spot the tourists and make them victims of hands-on crime such as purse snatching or a mugging. But don’t wait till you’re aimlessly wandering the piazza with your face buried in a huge map to take precautions against less violent forms of crime.
1S

  1. Before traveling, make copies of your driver’s license, medical insurance card, etc., and give these to a trusted adult. Have another set of copies in your home. Scan them and email to yourself.
  2. Never post your travel plans on social media until you return. You never know who’s reading about you.
  3. Before departing from home, make sure your credit card company and bank know of your travel plans.
  4. Clear your smartphone or other device of personal data that’s not essential for your trip.
  5. Travel on a light wallet. Take two credit cards with you in case one is lost or stolen. Have with you the phone numbers for your bank and credit card company, just in case.
  6. Avoid using Wi-Fi in coffee houses, airports and other public areas other than to just read celebrity gossip or catch the news. Use a VPN. Google it.
  7. When traveling internationally, read up on the safety of food and water and get whatever shots you may need.
  8. Never give your credit card number to the hotel staff (or at least, anyone identifying themselves as hotel staff) over the phone in your hotel room. The call could be coming from a thief posing as hotel staff telling you they need your number again.
  9. Never leave anything out in your hotel room that reveals personal information, such as a credit card receipt, passport, checkbook, medical insurance card, etc. If the room does not have a safe, then have these items on you at all times.
  10. Use only an ATM that’s inside a bank, never a free-standing one outdoors somewhere. Cover the keypad with your other hand as you enter the PIN to thwart ATM skimmers.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

The Whitehouse Break-in

What a nutcase: the man who recently broke into the White House, missing President Obama by just minutes. (Why isn’t the White House fence more unscalable?)

2HOmar J. Gonzalez, 42 and unarmed, was arrested just inside the house. The Texan was charged with unlawful entry, and it’s not clear what his motive was.

The Sept. 19 incident began when Gonzalez was spotted climbing the fence. A Secret Service agent cleared people out of the area. The intruder sprinted across the lawn after hopping down from the fence and went through the north portico doors. A witness even said, “He got a good run in,” referring to the North Lawn sprint. Parts of the White House were evacuated, and officials were yelling to the man to freeze.

Obama had been scheduled to depart, by helicopter with his daughters, at 7:05 pm, leaving from the South Lawn. Gonzalez got over the fence at 7:20 pm. However, apparently, Obama had left only a few minutes before this incident.

The video surveillance of Gonzalez shows what appears to be a man running in a race. Maybe he’d been training specifically for this event? Who knows.

Though scaling the fence isn’t new, this incident may be a first in that the trespasser succeeded in gaining entry to the White House.

Wonder what Gonzalez has claimed, if at all, is the reason he did what he did. Did “voices” tell him to do it? Was it a dare, a bet with a lot of money riding on it? Did he want 15 minutes of fame, even if it came with a prison cost? And how is it that security at the White House is so lax? What if this guy had had a grenade on him, and Obama was delayed a few more minutes and just happened to be near the entrance where Gonzalez burst into?

You’d think a Whitehouse home security system equipped with armed guards, dogs and fences would keep a crazy out. Or maybe they don’t even have an actual system. If I’m ever elected president, I’d get one.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Burglar Leaves Porn in Kid’s Bedroom

Maybe you’ve heard of burglars stealing porn…but leaving it at the victim’s house? A man in Salem, Oregon, broke into a woman’s apartment, leaving behind a porn video in a seven-year-old girl’s bedroom. Police think the man broke in earlier and hid in the girl’s closet, then made his move soon after midnight, replacing the cartoon film in the DVD with a porn film. Three miles away another break-in occurred, but the man fled after the female resident screamed. Sounds like this could have been the same perpetrator.

2BIf you think putting porn in a little girl’s DVD player is low, you can’t sink lower than the roach who stole Pepper, a little poodle mix, during a robbery in New Jersey. Why didn’t this low life (or two?) leave the dog be and just steal the typical things? The thief got in, apparently, through an unlocked back door. Nevertheless, Pepper was soon after returned to the homeowner, Barbara August, and her husband.

Prevent Home Burglaries

  • Have an alarm system, and one that sounds an alert when doors and windows are opened, including when you’re home.
  • To avoid an empty look about your house, keep its exterior well-lit. When you’re gone, have indoor lights come on and off with timers.
  • Your security system should include surveillance cameras. The price has come down on them, and today’s cameras are easier than ever to install.
  • No matter how solid your security system, always keep your doors and windows locked, even if your family is always going out and in. Inspect all the windows and doors to make sure nothing is broken. Most burglars simply come into a house via unlocked entries.
  • Consider having wooden dowels installed on top of windows for extra protection. Special films can be put over the glass to prevent penetration. Install glass-break sensors.
  • Install heavy deadbolts on your doors, ones with 3-4 inch screws.
  • Waste no time putting in your security system or checking to make sure all the locks work, etc. Don’t delay!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Bolster your Belongings on TV and This is what happens

How did a burglar know that Theresa Roemer had a 3,000 square foot, three-level closet that was crammed full of very pricey items including jewels and furs? Well, apparently, he caught wind of the “she cave” on TV, then perhaps Google Earthed it and (believe it or not) the evening he decided to bust in, the house alarm wasn’t on. And the closet wasn’t locked.

3BThe burglar stole $1 million worth of jewels and designer handbags from the enormous closet in Theresa Roemer’s mansion in The Woodlands, a Houston suburb.

While she was out dining with her husband, the thief filled three handbags with loot, and each handbag is worth $60,000. This was like a young kid in a candy factory.

Nobody really knows why the alarm was turned off.

Roemer has hosted many parties for charity inside the closet, which also includes a champagne bar. In addition to the handbags, furs and jewels are rows of shoes, boots, hats, clothes and beauty products. If you saw the move “Bling Ring” which was based on real events and often filmed in what was supposed to be Paris Hiltons closet, then you’d get the idea.

Roemer stated that she really doesn’t care about the replaceable items and refers to these as “crap.” She has expressed angst that some of the stolen items are heirlooms. Most people who lose stuff in a fire feel the same way.

The mansion’s surveillance cameras recorded the burglar, and it’s only a matter of time before the thief is identified. And even if the surveillance cameras eventually lead to an arrest and conviction, nobody wants to experience coming home to find that it’s been invaded and that valuable items have been stolen.

If you’re going to bother with having surveillance cameras, then also bother turning on the alarm when you’re gone and even when you’re home. But let’s not also forget that Roemer revealed her closet of riches on TV…a big mistake.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.