Take the Extra Step: 12 Ways to Protect Your Home from Burglars

Though you cannot totally protect your home from getting burgled, you would probably be surprised to know that there are no burglars that are as sophisticated as someone like Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible movies. However, when you have the right plan in place, you can almost make your home burglar-proof.

When most people think about their home’s security, they only think of a couple of things, such as fake cameras. Though these are nice to have, they don’t fully protect you. A fake camera isn’t going to stop a burglar from kicking in the door. Speaking of the door, the only thing that is separating you and your belongings from a thief is ½ inch piece of pine molding. This isn’t enough. A 12-year-old boy could kick that in, in fact. Instead, it’s best to reinforce your door:

  • Install deadbolt/door knob wraps – these devices strengthen the area around the location of the lock
  • Door bar jammer – this device is put under the doorknob to stop it from moving
  • Door brace – this device makes it difficult to use brute force to kick it down
  • Door frame reinforcement – this is installed on the door and is made of steel

You also might consider something like a Door Devil. This is a kit that features a device molded from steel It is placed over the jamb of the door, and then screwed into the frame. It’s very easy to install, and adds another level of protection for your house. When you combine a device like the Door Devil with other types of security, such as a security system, detection lights, or cameras, it is difficult for a burglar to get in.

Here are 12 more tips to keep the burglars out:

  1. Keep all of your doors locked, even if you are home, and even if it is light out.
  2. Keep your curtains and blinds shut. This ensures that no one can peek inside of your house to check out your valuables.
  3. Use door reinforcements on each and every door and use top-flight locks.
  4. Place security films on the windows. This helps to strengthen the panes and prevents any object from coming in, including baseball bats and crow bars.
  5. Bring in all newspapers and mail in as soon as they get there.
  6. Give your home a look that it is lived in, even if you aren’t home. Set up automated lights to be on at night.
  7. PennyMac says Put a pair of scuffed and worn men’s work boots at the doors of your house.
  8. If you park your car in the driveway, place a pair of men’s gloves on the dashboard. When burglars see this, they often think twice about breaking in because they believe a large, burly man lives in the house.
  9. Put a large dog bowl outdoors by the door, and make it look real. Add a leash or chewed up dog toys, too.
  10. Trim up any shrubs that hide points of entrance into your home.
  11. Go online to the Google News site. Type in your city and state, and then the phrase “door kicked in.” Take a look at those results. You will likely be shocked by what you read.
  12. Consider buying a new home security system. The best systems out there not only give you a full alarm package, but also offer cameras, police monitoring, and a video feed, that allows you to view what’s happening in your home when you are not there. This way, you can easily watch the cameras from your mobile phone or tablet.

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.

Technology and Home Security wed

Gone is the day when, while out on a romantic evening with your special someone, you suddenly realize you forgot to turn on your house alarm. You spend the rest of the long evening fretting about this.

2HNowadays, all you need do is whip out your smartphone and activate the alarm. You can even view the interior and exterior of your property in realtime with smarthome security cameras. And rest assured, if someone breaks in while your eyes are glued to the big movie screen, you’ll get a vibration alert.

We are getting closer and closer to a Jetson’s lifestyle; you know, George Jetson, the cartoon character who lives in the future? The Jetson household includes a female-looking robot dressed as a maid.

Robots

A house robot is no longer the thing of science fiction. Google is working on creating a robot that will help protect the house (and cleaning it is already being done with a Roomba). One of the tasks this robot would be able to do is prevent false alarms with the home security system. “What can be conceived can be achieved,” so the saying goes.

Laser Beams

  • Laser beams have been in existence for a while, that can detect motion and set off an alarm.
  • But this technology has much room for advancement in the security world and is growing.

More Advancements

  • Like an airplane on autopilot, your home’s security system will one day truly be on autopilot, with you at the helm no matter where you are.
  • But remember, robots, laser beams and other forms of technology will never replace common sense. You can have the most state-of-the-art technology working to protect your house, car, boat, even your person (with smartphone apps that can sense an unintentional fall, or with one touch of a button, summon an emergency response and give out your GPS coordinates) – but all this may mean zilch if you’re not wearing a seatbelt or if you’re texting while driving. Or if you’re climbing up on the rails of the cruise ship you’re on.
  • So even though the war against home intruders is closing in on them, sometimes our greatest enemy is oneself.
  • In the meantime, take advantage of what the booming home security market has to offer. Home security companies typically offer free consultations.

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

Xfinity Home Security Flawed

Bad news for users of the Xfinity home security system: It can report locked doors and windows that have been bypassed by an intruder and miss an intruder’s movements, says an article on wired.com.

3HThe intruder circumvents the system by using a radio jammer to block the 2.4 GHz radiofrequency band of the alarm system. The system won’t detect this as an anomaly, “thinking” that the doors and windows are still locked.

It gets worse. Suppose the thief ends the jamming and leaves with his loot. Then a second, unrelated intruder breaks in. He may go undetected and no alarms will go off, no remote alerts to the homeowner, because it may take the system’s sensors up to three hours to return to a functioning mode.

An Xfinity sign that’s on the property is a welcome mat to thieves who know how to circumvent the system. And the homeowner will never know anything happened until they return and see the place was ransacked. A surveillance camera, of course, will show the intrusion—unless the radiofrequency band of the camera was the same as the system and hence also jammed.

Radio jamming equipment can be constructed by anyone with half a brain about electronics.

Why can’t this system detect that anything went awry? And why does it take up to three hours for the sensors to regroup? Sounds like a lot of stuff is wrong with this system.

It’s not truly known if Comcast plans on remedying these flaws. Rapid7 security researchers contacted Comcast but have not received a reply, continues the wired.com article. Comcast has also ignored contact from WIRED and from CERT, a cybersecurity research entity.

Interestingly, once the wired.com article was posted, Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas issued a statement inferring that these flaws exist in any home security system. However, it has not been confirmed that these flaws are inherent in wireless home security systems in general.

So will Comcast patch up the flaw? Douglas’s response to WIRED was rather evasive, again stating that it was an “industry issue,” and that he’s not even sure that a “simple patch” is even the solution.

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

Set up Family’s Controls on Home Computers

The computers in your household should have controls on them for security—even if you don’t have children living with you.

3HChrome OS

  • On the Chrome browser in the upper right are three horizontal lines; click this symbol.
  • Click “Add supervised user.”
  • Enter the name and password for the new account.
  • This allows the other family member to access their account using the Chrome OS. Just set the controls for that person via the www.google.com/settings/chrome/manage.
  • You will be able to see the sites that the family member visits, and needless to say, you can block the ones you don’t want that individual accessing. The caveat is that it does not permit bulk blocking; so if you want to block five sites, you must set the block up one at a time for each site.
  • The plus side is that this system allows a user access to your Chromebook.

Windows 10

  • Go to account.microsoft.com/family and sign in.
  • Enter the e-mail address of other family members.
  • Or, set up a new one for them.
  • Click the “invite” link.
  • The family member(s) will appear on the family list. You now can set controls.
  • Controls can apply to apps, games, visiting particular websites and even the time of computer use.
  • This feature includes additional controls like seeing the online activity of the other family member(s).

OS X

  • Click Users & Groups in System Preferences.
  • See the lock icon? With your password, unlock it.
  • Click the “plus” symbol located under the user list.
  • You’ll see Managed with Parental Controls. Take it from there to have the new account added to the Mac’s master list.

There are lots of options for customizing the kind of control you want. Take your time reviewing all of the things you can set controls on.

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

10 Home Security Mistakes we make

Please, be humble and consider the possibility that you—yes you—might be committing numerous home security mistakes—that could really cost you if you don’t correct them.

5HHouse Alarm Turned Off

Some people only activate it when they are not home and others only activate it when they are sleeping. The alarm should be on at all times. Simply deactivate it when you go outside, but once back inside, switch it back on. Don’t think for a second that evidence of you being inside the house will deter a crazed intruder.

Not Locking Doors

Doors should be locked at all times, even if you keep going outside. Now I understand that maybe it wouldn’t be practical to lock the front door if you’re going in and out every two minutes to work on your front porch. But I think you know what I mean. Keep the doggone doors locked whenever you go out and while you’re inside the house.

Not Locking Windows

Many windows are easier to get through than the front door, and they’re also often hidden by shrubs. Burglars love windows. Never go to sleep with an open window that can be accessed from outside. Lock all windows whenever you go out. It’s okay to have a window open for a fresh breeze while you’re home, but don’t go overboard with “getting some air.”

Tightwad

Being a tightwad when it comes to investing in locks/security doesn’t pay off. When it comes to locks, you get what you pay for.

Hiding Keys

Use a keyless lock or give your house keys to a trusted adult; never “hide” them outside.

Ladder Outside

When finished with a ladder, put it back inside–immediately.

“Steal Me!”

Can outsiders see your valuables through your windows? If so, it’s time to do some rearranging.

Dark House

Keep the house well-lit when you’re gone, and when home, make sure there’s plenty of illumination.

“Are they on vacation?”

Your house shouldn’t trigger this question. Don’t let mail, newspapers and other deliveries accumulate. Don’t let your lawn and shrubs get overgrown. Speaking of vacations, never post on social media about your vacation until you’ve returned!

Garage Unlocked

This is bad. Keep it locked at all times.

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

DC Murders as horrific as it gets

The latest report says that Darron Dellon Dennis Wint did not act alone in the arson murder of a Washington, D.C., family and their housekeeper. You might wonder how a $4.5 million mansion—presumably with top-flight smoke alarms—could burn enough to kill the occupants.

7HA cnn.com report says they were held against their will since the day prior to the May 14 fire. Wint is being held without bond.

It’s too soon, however, to draw conclusions, as other people are being interviewed by police.

Wint was arrested a week after the bodies of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, and their son Philip were discovered. Housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa died later at a hospital.

The victims were discovered bound up and injured from blunt force, continues the cnn.com report. Philip, age 10, was apparently stabbed and tortured.

Bernardo Alfaro, the housekeeper’s husband, stated that Veralicia did not return home the night of May 13. (It’s fair to wonder why he didn’t pay a visit to the mansion that night, because next morning he finally did.)

Alfaro received a text message from someone claiming to be Savopoulos, telling him that his wife, who couldn’t drive, was with Amy in a hospital. Someone identifying herself as Amy called a second housekeeper and told her to stay home.

It’s believed that money was the motivation for the murders. Apparently, Wint and accomplices stole $40,000 that was dropped off at the mansion by a Savopoulos employee.

How was Wint caught? On May 13, two pizzas were delivered to the mansion while the victims were bound up. A woman instructed that the pizza be dropped off at the door (it had already been paid for via Amy’s credit card). Wint’s DNA was found on the crust.

Wint’s attorney says that this DNA doesn’t prove Wint was inside the house. So how did his DNA get there? Wint’s record doesn’t help: charges of theft, assault and sexual offense.

Neighbors of Wint’s parents say that Wint had choices and that “he was not raised this way.” Few people want their kids to grow up into murderers and groom them for such. But one must wonder what kind of emptiness and darkness existed in the childhood of a man who grows up to burn to death four innocent people.

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

Swatting is potentially deadly

No, not deadly to a fly that you swat at, but to the homeowners who are subjected to aggressive police searches after the police receive a 911 call that someone was shot at the house. But the call is a hoax.

7HThis happened to Jesse Vanremortel at 3:30 am, says an article at theoaklandpress.com. He and his girlfriend were jarred awake by noises, then next thing they knew, lights were shining under the bedroom door. A police officer crashed through, pointing an assault rifle at Vanremortel, 28. Police searched his house, and of course, found nothing, because this was a “swatting call” incident; the third in one week’s time in Oakland County.

The phony 911 call was by a woman claiming that shots had been fired inside a house on the street. Then she hung up. Thus far, police believe there’s a connection between the callers and the targeted victims. Strangely, Vanremortel says he doesn’t know the woman whom the police are investigating as a suspect.

It doesn’t help when the house’s occupant slept with the doors unlocked. Oddly, the teacher, on summer break, never awakened to a ringing phone shortly before the police entered the house—the call was from the police. So maybe the second lesson to learn is to put your radar on when you go to bed so that you don’t sleep through a ringing phone. My phones on, always, this is essential. If you don’t want to be awakened by a ringing phone, put it on mute, but not advised. But for Pete’s sake, lock up the house!

Vanremortel’s girlfriend and two roommates were held at gunpoint while the house was searched. You can see how swatting can turn deadly.

In other incidents, a caller said he shot his wife and rigged his home with explosives, then said he shot his neighbor. In another, a caller said he shot his mother.

At a minimum a home alarm in these situations would make law enforcement aware the property was in “secure” mode which may send a flag to approaching officers that the 911 dispatch might be fraud.

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

Be On The Pulse of Your Home Security

Being on top of what is new and ahead of what is next in technology has always been my thing. I had a beeper the size of a pack of cigarettes and a mobile phone bigger than a shoe box.  I’m somewhat of a gadget geek. I like new and shiny. However, when it comes to all these new technologies I am far from a first adopter.

First adopters are the ones who camp out overnight, wait in line and generally spend lots of money on something not ready for prime time. Sometimes there are flaws with new technologies that need to be worked out before you should get involved in them. My suggestion is to always let others make the mistakes and learn from them, and then you benefit from what they went through.

When it comes to home security and home automation, there have been many innovations in these technologies, most of the mistakes have been made and lots of them have gone the way of the wooden nickel.  ADT has taken their time and carefully orchestrated the best of the best technology and combined home security and home automation and created ADT Pulse. This is a “ready for prime time” technology that has learned from everyone else’s mistakes.

ADT Pulse is a new interactive smart home solution that goes beyond traditional home security to provide a new level of control, accessibility and connection with the home.

Connectivity and interactivity are driving the way people live and manage their homes.  ADT Pulse provides customers with anywhere, anytime access to their home via smart phones or personal computers, including an 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.

All of these options have been around for years, but nobody has gotten them right until now. If you travel for business, have a vacation home, go away for the weekend or simply want to check in while you are at school or work, this technology is for you.

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

11 Ways To Prevent Home Invasions

Strangers and posers: You tell your children not to talk to strangers, so why do you open the door to a total stranger? And never talk to strangers via an open or screen door. Home-invaders pose as delivery people, law enforcement or  public workers.

Distress: If someone is in distress tell him or her you will call the police for them. Don’t open the door for them.

Make a call: Under no circumstances do you open the door unless you get phone numbers to call their superiors. Even if that means making them wait outside while you call 411.

Money, jewels and drugs : One simple reason your house is chosen is someone tipped off the home-invader that you have valuables. You may have done it via social media or your friends or children or baby sitter might have unintentionally bragged. In states where medical marijuana is legal that may be an additional consideration.

Peephole: Install peepholes, talk through the door.

Do not call the police!: If you live in a high crime area where law enforcement takes a while to respond, and if someone is trying to break into your house while you are in it, calling the fire department will sometimes get help to the scene quicker. Do this only if you are desperate. Firefighters are not equipped to handle violence. However squealing sirens can deter a criminal. And call the police!

Get armed: Having a non-lethal weapon in the form of a Taser or a Pepper spray in close proximity to your bed or front door can debilitate your attacker before they gain control. But realize these can be used against you.

Have your mobile handy: Consider a second line or a cell phone in your bedroom. Burglars sometimes cut phone lines and often remove a telephone from the receiver when they enter a home.

Get alarmed: An alarm system activated while you are sleeping will prevent a burglar from getting to far. And keep it on 24/7/365. With a home alarm system on, when someone knocks on the door, a conscious decision has to be made to turn off the alarm. Most people will keep it on.

Locks: Call a qualified locksmith to take a physical security survey to help you determine the most efficient way to lock up. Many products on the market are a false sense of security. A qualified locksmith should be a professional associated with well known manufacturers.

Cameras: Install a 24-hour camera surveillance system. Cameras are a great deterrent.  Have them pointed to every door and access point.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures

Woman Drags Naked Intruder By His Beard

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’…then there is this woman.

They say “never hit a woman”.  The reason is because women don’t just hit back, they keep hitting back until they are done with you. Plus it isn’t cool.

A 64-year-old woman fought off a neighbor and dragged him out of her house by his beard after he let himself into her Kansas City home and took his clothes off. The woman said she awoke about 12:50 a.m and found her 62-year-old neighbor standing over her naked, as she tried to throw him out, he allegedly grabbed her throat. She picked up a tape measure and bonked it against his head three times. He left.”

Moment’s later police found him outside crying. I think I’d cry too after a bonk on the head and a whooping like that.

Resistance in this situation worked out for the victim.  At 64 she decided she wasn’t going to sit back and allow the intruder to make advances on her in any way.

What is important to understand is in any attack situation the victim actually has a lot of control over the outcome if they react within the first 30-60 seconds. What the victim does in that initial time frame can allow them to gain control over the direction of the attack. The attacker generally goes into the attack thinking the victim will be submissive but when the victim is confrontational the attacker is usually not prepared for that.

This entire situation could have been prevented if the homeowner had a home security system installed and beefed up her doors and windows with the appropriate locks. Now THAT is taking control.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing self defense on Fox Boston. Disclosures.