How to figure out Crime Statistics in a Town

If you want to get an idea of how safe or crime-ridden a town may be, do some casual observing including at night:2H

  • Are women walking or jogging alone at night?
  • Are people hanging out in the evening having a good time?
  • Are children mysteriously absent on a sunny weekend afternoon?
  • Are there a lot of “for sale” signs among the houses?
  • Do many houses have security signs in their yards?
  • Are there any other tell-tale signs that the town is safe—or seedy? Like many taverns and only one recreation center?

Before moving to a particular town, you should also chat with its residents. Maybe you shouldn’t reveal you’re thinking of moving there, as they may tell you things you want to hear. Pretend you’re a resident and strike up a conversation at the local diner or some place like that, a comment that would lure someone into giving information about the safety—or danger—of the town.

But of course, you can just be more upfront and honest and flat-out ask about the crime rate, safety, etc. Ask if it’s safe for children to walk to and from school by themselves (I don’t mean six-year-olds, of course).

Ask if there’s a neighborhood watch and why it was established. Inquire about safety measures the townsfolk are taking.

Safety also means the condition of roads and sidewalks, not just for motor vehicles but bicyclists and pedestrians. Are roads in good condition? Are intersections well lit? Are stop signs easily visible?

If your move is long-distance and you can’t in-person visit the town:

  • It’s time for some googling. Type in “city of (name of town)” to view its website and various stats such as “crime rate.”
  • Also visit the town’s police department’s website. See if it has a Facebook page. A lot of local buzz is reported on a police department’s Facebook page.
  • Read the town’s major online newspaper to see what’s usually cooking.
  • Find out what the town’s news station is and visit its site.
  • Are the sites laden with crime stories? Over time, have there been a lot of sexual assaults or home robberies?
  • Any continuous complaints about the schools?

For more comprehensive research, visit the following:

  • MyLocalCrime.com
  • FamilyWatchdog.us
  • CrimeReports.com
  • Neighborhoodscout.com
  • City-data.com

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

3 More Ways Criminals use influence to steal

Criminals use six basic principles to influence and steal. In the first post we discussed:

  • Reciprocation: Do something nice for a person and they will feel obligated to return the favor.
  • Social Proof: This is the “It’s okay if everyone else does it” approach.
  • Commitment and Consistency: Get someone to verbally or in writing commit to something, and this will increase the chances they’ll follow through.

11DRobert Cialdini is a psychologist who studied influence for nearly 30 years, condensing his findings into six principles. In this post we will discuss 3 more principles of influences that tie it all together and make scammers experts at their craft.

Liking

  • If someone likes you they will more likely comply with you. Get more bees with honey as they say. We do business with those we know, like, and trust. When you see others rate a product high, you are more likely to buy it.
  • The liking could even result from noticing that you have a similar hairstyle or body mannerisms. This is why salespeople are taught to mimic the vocal patterns of their prospects.
  • A similar name, knowing the same people, finding common ground, a similar physical appearance, is all comforting.
  • Scammers do everything they can to appear as a likable trusted source. The scam email looks exactly like your bank because you must like your bank if you trust them with your money, so you click the link. This new person friends you on social and you see they are connected to 25 of your others friends and colleagues. They must be OK right? No.

Authority

  • Coming off with some authority increases one’s ability to influence people. This is why salespeople are taught to speak with downward inflections.
  • To seem more authoritative, wear dark clothing. Police officers and security guards dress in black or dark blue. So do ministers, judges and karate instructors. Attorneys in court, especially during closing arguments, usually wear dark. Imagine a cop in pink. Or SWAT in lavender.
  • But authority can also be white (doctor’s lab coat, nurse’s uniform). The bottom line is that when people perceive authority, they tend to comply.
  • This concept greatly pertains to social aggression: A man harassing a woman will usually back off if she suddenly squares up her shoulders, stares hard at him and speaks in a deep, primal voice, “Get out of my way, or else!” Dog are more effectively trained when the trainer uses a deeper voice.
  • Scammers pose as the government, law enforcement, the IRS, bill collectors, the security department from your credit card company, HR, accounting and more. Anytime an authoritive figure contacts you, be suspect.

Scarcity

  • Scarcity of an item makes it more appealing. Antique cars and rare old coins are worth more because there are few of them and a lot of people who want them.
  • This concept is used by marketers all the time. Ever hear “will soon be discontinued”? You suddenly buy a dozen of the product, even though you’ve hardly purchased it before. Ever hear “limited offer” and “but if you act now…”?
  • When there is a big storm/hurricane coming, people clear the shelves at the supermarket in fear they will not eat or drink.
  • Scammers understand scarcity is also associated with loss. They use the same principle when they tell you in a pop up if you don’t fix this, or in an email if you don’t act now, or over the phone if you don’t give up your username and password all your data/money etc will be gone, you won’t get paid next week etc. It’s limitless how they use scarcity.

I’ve said this before. Don’t be cattle. Don’t act like sheep. Most of the world functions based on the honor system. As long as everyone is honest, everything works seamlessly. The honor system is designed with the mindset that we are all sheep and there are no wolves. We know there are plenty of wolves.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

3 Ways Criminals influence to steal

Criminals use six basic principles of Influence to steal. In this post we will discuss the first 3. The ability to influence boils down to science. By applying some science, anyone can learn to be more influential. It’s easy to influence sheep and cattle. It’s a bit more complicated to influence people. But many people can be influenced as easy as a cow. Criminals understand this the same way sales people do. The derivative of “confidence” is con. All influence in some way is designed to gain your confidence and in some cases to trick you. That’s where “confidence trick” comes from. Robert Cialdini is a psychologist who studied influence for nearly 30 years, condensing his findings into six principles. I’ll bet every crime syndicate out there read his books.

Reciprocation

  • Do something nice for a person and they will feel obligated to return the favor. This concept is seen in doctors who promote a particular drug—the pharmaceutical company has just given him free notepads, pens and a coffee mug.
  • Want your children to show you respect? Show them respect. They’ll feel obligated to treat you the same. Mostly.
  • Scammers use this by offering something free in an emailed link. You might have to reciprocate and give up an email address or simply click a link. Clicking on the link installs a virus. You get a call from a colleague in tech support. They say “I need your password to fix this server” and “I’ll be there for you someday when you need help”. We want to help, we want to return the favor.

Social Proof

  • This is the “It’s okay if everyone else does it” approach. People have a tendency to check out what other people are doing when they’re not sure what course to take. Stand on a street corner in a busy city and look up at a skyscraper, then watch the crowed gather to see what you are looking at.
  • Why does the new treadmill user at the gym hold onto the rails while walking? Because they see everyone else in the gym doing it. What made you decide to buy that kitchen gadget? Because the TV ad said, “They’re going fast, everyone’s buying it, so order now!”
  • This concept also applies to emergency situations, such as people lined up at a third story window of a burning building, afraid to jump—until one person leaps. Suddenly, everyone else leaps.
  • Scammers will use social proof to trick you in a Ponzi investment scheme. If all kinds of people you trust are making the same investment, then why wouldn’t you?

Commitment and Consistency

  • Get someone to verbally or in writing commit to something, and this will increase the chances they’ll follow through. They are committed. Signing a contract means you are committed. Anything that comes out of that contract is your responsibility.
  • People want to do things by the book, they want to be civilized and play by the rules. This plays off of social proof to conform like others.
  • Scammers recognize most people are committed to “doing the right thing”, or being appropriate. So if you get a call or an email saying there is an issue with your account, you want to do the right thing and fix it. Getting things right may mean giving your data to a criminal.

Don’t be cattle. Don’t act like sheep. Most of the world functions based on the honor system. As long as everyone is honest, everything works seamlessly. The honor system is designed with the mindset that we are all sheep and there are no wolves. We know there are plenty of wolves. Don’t be sheep.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Man beheaded in break-in, missing Wife’s Body found

In Putnam County, Georgia, a crazed killer may be on the loose (if he’s not already in another state by now). He (and maybe he had an accomplice) beheaded Russell Dermond, 88. Nobody knows why. At the time his decapitated body was found, his wife, Shirley, 87, was missing. But two weeks later her body was found near a dam, dead from blunt force trauma.5H

Dermond’s head has not been located.

Dennis Higgs is the fisherman who discovered Shirley’s body in the water. He first believed it was a buoy, but as he approached, he realized it was something to back away from, and called 9-1-1.

The body was five to six miles from the Dermond home. Gary McElhenney, the Putnam coroner, announced that the completion of a toxicology report on the body will take two or three weeks, possibly three months. Meanwhile, dental records will verify the identity of the woman’s body. Until then, the sheriff and McElhenney are “pretty certain” that the body is that of Shirley’s, due to the general appearance and some tell-tale surgical scars.

It is believed that the murder of Russell Dermond occurred between 4:30 p.m. on May 2 and 4 p.m. on May 3. Oddly, there are no signs of any forced entry or even a struggle inside the house. Authorities are vexed over who could have done this. It may have been the work of one person, maybe a group, maybe even involving a female accomplice.

No clues have been turned up in the area or at the lake vicinity. No leads exist.

If this act was random, just for some psychopath’s kicks, the killer will likely strike again. A crime like this can’t be a singular event—someone with this kind of evil will surely develop another fix to satisfy.

On the other hand, if this was a personal attack, this still shows a derangement that indicates that the killer will strike again anyways—either choosing a victim he knows or a random victim. When one gets this savage, anything goes.

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

Dumb and Dead Criminals making news

Crime doesn’t pay—especially when you can’t read. A man in Chicago spent seven minutes disabling a lock on a local bars door, then kept trying to pull the door open even though a sticker on it said “PUSH.” Now that’s a dumb criminal, because even if he couldn’t read or didn’t notice the sticker, you’d think he’d try pushing at some point, no?

1GThe dumb crook was concealed by a temporary cover that was in front of the bar for cold weather. Even people jogging by didn’t notice the brilliant work in progress.

But video surveillance picked everything up. He even got as far as removing the door stopper. Unfortunately, something stopped his brain from working at that point and he didn’t think to push the door open. There was damage done to the door, and apparently, the would-be burglar is still at large.

Sometimes, the stupidity of criminals can be fatal, not just funny as in the case above. In San Francisco, a 16-year-old robbery suspect was killed accidentally by his accomplice’s ricocheting bullet. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing about a 16 year old dying that makes me happy. But here we have two 16 year olds who would shoot someone to death for an iPhone. Somehow the world seems less violent for the moment.

The teen and other thugs had surrounded a victim at night, demanding his cellphone. One of the hoods pulled out a gun, while the others ransacked the victim’s belongings. Nevertheless, the kid with the gun fired a shot at him anyways. Incredibly, the bullet bounced off the victim’s face and struck one of the other muggers, killing him onsite.

The tough guys immediately fled, leaving behind the wounded mugging victim and dying thug.

Fortunately, the suspected shooter, also 16, has been arrested.

This story sounds like good karma, but it would have been sweeter had the deflected bullet struck the shooter, don’t you think?

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

Crime Is On The Decline. I Didn’t Notice

According to the figures released by the FBI, the estimated number of violent crimes in the Nation declined in 2009 for the third consecutive year. Property crimes also declined in 2009, marking the seventh straight year that the collective estimates for these offenses dropped below the previous year’s total.

What has always bugged me about these reports is the sense of relief some get, but in reality how little crime actually declines. Generally it’s anywhere from 5 percent to 6 percent for either category. So maybe there were 22,000 murders gone down from 25,000 murders. That’s still lots of grieving families.

Much of the decline in crime can be attributed to better police work and support from various federal agencies. Over the years law enforcement has gone from whistles and Billy clubs to sophisticated programs based on community involvement coupled with innovation and technology.

In addition to better police work I believe the public has a higher degree of security intelligence. Over the past 10 years our collective consciousness in regards to protecting ourselves, has increased. The tragedy of 9/11 raised awareness that we must take some degree of responsibility for our personal security.

While might have dropped a tick and we are more aware, we still have lots and lots of work to do. Remember, there always has been, is now and always will be criminals seeking their next target.

For example a study in Connecticut showed that 12 percent of burglaries occurred through an UNLOCKED door and that in 41 percent of alarmed homes that were burglarized; the security system was not turned on.

These kind of stats just makes me mental. Even though property crimes have declined, there are still over 2 million burglaries.

Here are some tips from a police department

Be proactive with the help of wireless home security. New interactive smart home solutions go beyond traditional home security to provide a new level of control, accessibility and connection.

Wireless home security provides with anywhere, anytime access to your home via smart phones or personal computers, including iPhone application to:

• Arm and disarm their home security system.

• Get notified of alarms and selected events via email and text messages as well as video clips.

• View their home through cameras and watch secure real-time video or stored video clips of events from monitored areas of the home.

• Access lights and appliances or set schedules to automate them.
Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Security on NBC Boston.