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.

15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

You and your family aren’t the only ones who love the holidays; burglars love them, too. Not only do they know that it gets dark earlier after the time change in November, they also know that you have a lot of newly purchased gifts in your home. It is the perfect storm.

Most homeowners take extra steps around the holiday season to protect their homes. For instance, they often take precautions with Christmas lights or candles as to not start a fire. However, most don’t take any extra security measures to prevent a home robbery. Yes, fire protection is very important, but your home is much more likely to be robbed than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 tips that you can use during this upcoming holiday season:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. This is true even in the daylight and even when you are home.
  2. Always keep your windows locked, even those that are on the second floor. Burglars can and do climb.
  3. Use high quality locks and door reinforcements.
  4. Keep all of your blinds and curtains closed. This keeps your valuables away from prying eyes.
  5. Install security film on all of your windows. These help to strengthen them and help them to hold up to things like crow bars, rocks and baseball bats.
  6. Try to make your home look “lived-in” even if you aren’t home. One way to do this is with home automation technology. These systems do things like turn on/off lights automatically, so that it looks like someone is there.
  7. Bring in your mail and newspaper as soon as they are delivered.
  8. Put a large dog bowl outside near your door. Try to make it look as realistic as possible with water inside it. Also, place a thick leash and chewed up dog toys around.
  9. Take a pair of worn men’s work boots and place them by the door. This makes it less likely that a burglar will enter because they don’t want to confront a man they can’t overpower.
  10. Clear out shrubbery around entry points. These are good hiding places for burglars.
  11. Do a Google news search with the name of your city, state, and the phrase “door kicked in.” What do you see? Likely several cases of the door getting kicked into people in your area. Use door reinforcement products.
  12. If you have a garage, use it to pack and unpack gifts into your car. If you do it outdoors, a burglar might be watching.
  13. Don’t advertise your gift purchases on your social media pages. Thieves are notorious for using social media to find victims.
  14. Invest in a security system for your home. Choose one that offers a view of what is happening in your home. You can access this via computer, tablet, or smart phone.
  15. If you park your car outside, place a pair of large men’s gloves in it. Most burglars won’t go into a house if they believe a large man lives there.

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.

Protect your Home when Traveling

When you go traveling, I’m sure you make a point to protect the various things you bring with you—including your laptop, children, even spouse. But what about something you left behind? Your home? Is that being protected too?

1BBefore Leaving

  • Don’t wait till the last minute to arrange kenneling for your pet.
  • Tidy up the exterior of your house including mowing the lawn. Overgrown grass, unmoved rubbish and dormant toys/tools make a house look unoccupied. If you plan on traveling long enough for the grass to get overgrown, arrange with a trusted adult to mow your lawn.
  • Don’t leave your car outside.
  • Put your snail mail and any paper delivery on vacation hold.
  • Give spare keys to a trusted adult. This person should also know the “safe” word for your security system should they be in contact with the monitoring center.
  • Hopefully you have a reliable neighbor who will promptly remove any flyers in your door or on the knob.
  • Here’s something you probably never thought of: A burglar casing your street on trash pickup day may notice the one house whose trash cans aren’t at the curb. Hmmm…maybe those people are away on vacation? So have a neighbor bring your trash cans out on trash day—with trash in them—and then bring them back in.
  • Get rid of food that may spoil while you’re away.
  • Make sure the locks on your windows and doors work.
  • Set up an automatic timed lighting system. Open curtains or shades enough to reveal this to anyone passing by, but not enough for someone to be able to see your valuables through your windows.
  • Put as many valuables as you can in a fireproof, waterproof safe.
  • To prevent water flooding problems, switch off the water to your dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Make sure all appliances and electronic items are unplugged to avoid fires.
  • Lower the thermostat but no less than 60’.
  • Give the garbage disposal one last run, because if there is food waste in there you may come home to a swarm of fruit flies.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors and home security system work.
  • And don’t forget to turn your alarm system on before you embark on your trip.

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

12 Simple Smart Ways to secure your Home

Burglars actually peruse social media to see who’s on vacation. In fact, 69 burglars were interviewed by Edith Cowan University in Australia, and perusing social media kept coming up as a way to find victims.

3BKeep your cyber mouth shut till you return. Here are more tips:

Get to know your neighbors. This way they’ll be more inclined to ask a stranger, who’s loitering around your yard, what they’re doing there.

Don’t show off. Like anyone else, burglars are attracted to the niftiest house on the block. Keep a low profile, consider how a new outside decoration might attract the wrong kind of attention

Apps for your smartphone. There are so many ways you can use your mobile device when away from home to keep tabs on your house.

Advertise your home security system. Burglars are repelled by the alarm company signs, decals and stickers on the property.

Hide valuables in clever places. Put small jewelry boxes inside an old Starbucks bag. Or stash money inside an empty cereal box in the pantry.

Don’t let mail pile up. And put your mail and newspaper delivery on vacation hold when you travel.

Close your curtains, blinds and shades. It’s shocking how many people leave them open at night, making it so easy for burglars to see what’s inside, including the 105-pound adult occupant. Even in broad daylight, a burglar casing the area will be brazen enough to step right up to a window and peer inside.

Make your place look like someone is always home. Use timed lighters. Keep the lawn mowed. Arrange to have someone park their car in your drive when you’re traveling. Mute the ringer on your phone.

Never leave the garage door open. Not only can a thief see what goodies you have in your garage (yes, burglars steal “garage stuff” for resale), but they can potentially get into the house through the laundry room door.

Don’t leave empty boxes for trash pickup that reveal you have brand new pricey items. Break down the boxes.

Don’t let shrubs grow around doors and windows where they can conceal a prowler. But do plant thorny bushes close to windows.

One minute. That’s how long the average crook needs to get into a house. Keep your doors and windows locked with top-notch devices.

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

15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holiday Season

Most people don’t like that “fall back” time change every November, but you know who does? Burglars. Burglars love to “fall back” because it gives them more time to practice their criminal activities thanks to the earlier veil of darkness. This is also a convenient time for them as the holiday season is upon us and most people have a lot of newly purchased gifts in our homes. Perfect bait for burglars.

2BIn general, most homeowners will take precautions around Christmas time to prevent fires due to Christmas lights, yet they do not take extra security measures to prevent home robbery. Though fire prevention is certainly important, your home is far more likely to attract the eyes of a burglar than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 ways that you can keep the burglars away:

  1. Keep doors locked at all times. This is true even when you are home, and even when it’s light out.
  2. Keep your windows locked, even those on the second floor. Burglars DO have climbing skills.
  3. Use door reinforcements and top-flight locks.
  4. Keep the curtains and blinds closed. This will ensure that no one can take a peek at your valuables.
  5. Install security films on the windows. These help to prevent the penetration of objects such as a baseball bat or crow bar.
  6. Give your home a “lived-in” look with a home automation technology system. Many of these can be controlled by a model device or scheduled to turn lights on or off at a specific time.
  7. Collect your newspaper and mail as soon as they arrive.
  8. Place a large pair of men’s work boots near the door, and make sure they are scuffed up to make them look worn.
  9. Put a large dog bowl near the entryways of the home, but make sure it looks realistic. Do this by adding a chewed up toy or large leash to the scene.
  10. Make sure there is no shrubbery crowding entry points of the home.
  11. Go to Google news, and type in the phrase “door kicked in” along with your city and state. You will be shocked by the results. To protect yourself, consider a device such as Door Devil, which is a high-level door reinforcement device.
  12. If you have a garage, make sure you are packing and unpacking gifts from the car inside of the garage so no one can see what you purchased.
  13. Don’t advertise your Christmas gift purchases on social media, as many thieves use social media to find potential victims.
  14. Make an investment into a home security system. The best systems provide a clear view of what is happening in the home on your mobile device when you are not there.
  15. If you have a car parked out in the drive, place a pair of men’s gloves on the dash. Most burglars will think twice if they believe there is a large man living in the home.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

Burglars Use Social to target Victims

So you think it’s really a far-out left-field idea: a burglar studying Facebook and other social media to select homes to rob. Well think again.

14DA survey, conducted by home security expert Friedland, found:

  • 78 percent of burglars use social media to select targets.
  • 74 percent touted the virtues of Google Street View.
  • 54 percent pointed out how risky it is for social media users to reveal their whereabouts and status.
  • 80 percent said a home alarm system would scare them away.

So with everyone and his brother on social media, why wouldn’t burglars also jump on this bandwagon?

Why Burglars Love Social Media

  • People share every detail of their vacation—while on vacation. If there’s a photo of you sipping a margarita in Cancun, a burglar knows he has plenty of time to break into your house. Can’t you wait till you’re home to post all the photos?
  • Apps may have location-sharing features. Find out if yours do and review the privacy features. Did you know that these features can synchronize with other social media and reveal your whereabouts to strangers?
  • Do you know just who can see what you post on Facebook? Check the privacy settings and make sure you understand just who can see your posts.
  • Applications on your phone may be using your GPS without your knowledge. If you have an Android, go to Settings, then Location Services, then turn off the GPS. For the iPhone go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services and System Services. Turn on Status Bar to see which apps know your every move. For the Windows phone go to Settings, then Location.
  • Did you know that a photo is worth a thousand words when posted online? Words that burglars love, too. Crooks could extract “EXIF” data from photos that reveal where and when they were taken—including your home address. Though Facebook strips out this data, many sites don’t. EXIF data can be removed.
  • In theory, a burglar can do a reverse image search and learn too much about you. He may do a search on one of your images to learn everywhere else it appears in cyberspace, leading to your social media accounts and hence, username/s. If your username is your actual name, and it’s not too common like Patricia Adams, and your social media accounts reveal your city, he can find your address via a people-search directory.

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

Think Your Door can’t get Kicked in, Think Again

Part of my role as security guy is to keep tabs on the crime climate around the globe. Recently I kept seeing article after article about burglaries with one common theme: “door kicked in”. Don’t believe me? See below. But before you do, probably all of these could have been prevented with Door Reinforcement Technology.

2B9/17/15 Alabama; Front door kicked in at Cahaba Road residence:
The call came in around 2:47 a.m., and officers found an unknown suspect kicked in the front door of a residence to gain entry.

9/21/15 Illinois; Bloomington Police investigating home invasion:
According to Sarah Mayer with BPD, officers were called Saturday to a home that had the door kicked in. Officers say that the resident of the home told them a young black male entered her bedroom and pointed a handgun at her, telling her to lay face down.

9/22/15 Michigan; Couple uses ‘special skills’ to help solve their own burglary:
Sergio and Maura Rodriguez returned to their Southside home on July 17 to find their front door kicked in. Burglars had stolen the couple’s television and Maura’s purse containing her Lone Star and debit cards.

9/23/15 Alabama; Law enforcement blotter:
Caller checking on location for owner, door kicked in, Ashby 2 men with 31 previous arrests nabbed in Hoover break-in 9/21/15 The break-in happened about 3:15 p.m. Thursday in the 5000 block of Tree Crossings Parkway at Ridge Crossings Apartments, said Capt. Gregg Rector. The resident arrived home to find his door kicked in. When he went inside, he interrupted two burglars.

9/24/15 Alaska; Man admits to trying to steal Toyo stove, charged with first-degree burglary:
The homeowner called troopers about 11 a.m. and said he arrived home to find his door kicked in and a man trying to steal his Toyo.

9/24/15  South Carolina; Police Blotter for Sept. 24: A 58-year-old Aiken woman reported Monday that it looked as if a nearby vacant house on Springfield Church Road was burglarized. Deputies found the back door kicked in and several appliances missing from inside.

9/25/15 Georgia; Police Blotter Residential Burglary:
800 block of Loridans Drive—A front door was kicked in and a patio door was tampered with. An Apple MacBook Pro, a black Kindle Fire, Skull Candy headphones, a Wells Fargo checkbook, a PlayStation 4 with controllers, a Burberry watch, a JOS A Bank watch, a white laundry basket, an Xbox with controllers and four games, four watches, an Amazon Fire HD7 and 500 Pesos were taken.

And

100 block of 26th Street—The top of a condo’s door lock was punctured and the door was kicked in. A MacBook Pro laptop, an Apple iPad, jewelry, iPhone 3GS, Apple iPad, Social Security card and personal papers were taken.

And

900 block of Cardova Drive—A homeowner received a text about his alarm sounding but refused police because he didn’t want to be fined. A neighbor discovered the front door kicked in and a TV from the living room was in the driveway. No other items were taken.

And

1800 block of Wellbourne Drive—A 60-inch Sony TV a WII controller, a diamond ring, an Apple MacBook Air, an Apple Thunder Bolt display, a MacBook Pro, two Apple keyboards and wireless mice, a Canon camera, a Sony video camera and a external hard drive were taken when a house’s front door was kicked in.

Now don’t think for one second, “Well I don’t live in Alabama or wherever, so I’m OK”. Wrongo bongo. Go to GoogleNews , type your Town and or state and “Door kicked In” and you will be amazed at how many results come up. Doors, without reinforcement technology are useless. Install high-grade door reinforcement technology. Door Devil, is the door jamb reinforcement I use.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

12 Ways to secure your Home

The FBI says that in the U.S., one out of every 36 homes will be raided by thieves in any given year. Often, the burglars were able to get in due to the residents’ carelessness.

3BUnlike the movies, in which burglars are hiding in the shrubs at night waiting for the homeowner to return home, then jump out and press guns to their ribcages, ordering them inside, real life burglars often literally stroll right through an unlocked door and help themselves to all the goodies. There are many ways the home occupant can make it easy for burglars to get in unnoticed.

  • Unlocked doors and windows.
  • A sloppy yard. This makes a thief think nobody’s hardly ever home, and he’ll likely target the house for a break-in.
  • Shrubs and bushes that obscure entryways. Burglars love it when they can conceal themselves in the dark with the help of plant growth around windows and doors.
  • Posting travel plans on social media. Yes, burglars scout social media to see who’ll be away from the house.
  • Indiscriminately answering the doorbell. Burglars may pose as utility workers and talk their way inside. Or, they may push past the occupant and ransack the place while an accomplice restrains the occupant.
  • A chronically dark house. Don’t be a utility bill penny pincher. Enough lights should be on at night, including when you’re home, to make a burglar think there’s fully-awake people inside. Automatic timers that turn lights on and off will make the house look occupied, and will make it appear people are up in the middle of the night, when many break-ins occur.
  • Newspapers accumulating in the drive or a package sitting on the front stoop, suggesting nobody’s been home for a while.

Beef up Your Home’s Security

  • Get a security system for the house that has it all: motion detectors, surveillance cameras, smartphone connections. Even if money is tight, you can still fool many a burglar with a fake camera installed above the front door, and security company signs around the house—even though you don’t have a system. But really, these days, there are systems for all budgets.
  • Dog owners should hire a dog sitter rather than kennel their pet; a dog’s barking usually scares off a would-be intruder.
  • Put your paper and mail deliveries on a vacation hold.

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

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.

Town sees Big Spike in Burglaries

Why are so many burglaries hounding the town of Los Altos in California? There were 79 reported in 2013, but 118 for 2014. This past January and February there were 36. At that rate, by Christmas 2015, it’s unthinkable what the total number of burglaries will be.

1HIn a report on mercurynews.com, the Los Altos police chief, Tuck Younis, is quoted as saying, “It sickens me, as the one who is responsible to keep the city safe, that’s occurring. It sickens every member of our department that’s occurring, especially at the volume that is occurring in our city.”

He spoke this to an assembly of over 200 town residents. Chief Younis added that the number of burglaries is “unprecedented.” In fact, the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountainview—neighbors to Los Altos—have also been stung. And not just by local thieves, but thieves from all over.

Chief Younis speculates that a prison realignment is responsible for the spike in burglaries; convicts are getting released sooner.

And these burglars are going after hard-to-trace loot like jewelry and cash, rather than iPhones and video games. And they’ve been hitting homes both during the day and in the middle of the night.

The police have reassured residents that they are doing everything possible to break this spike up, and that there’s even been some arrests. Nevertheless, residents were instructed to be extra alert and not to hold back from reporting any suspicious activity.

Residents should also beef up their home security as well as take non-techy measures to make their homes unappealing to burglars. Being aware of the little things will make a difference, such as not letting newspapers collect in the driveway because you haven’t felt like getting the paper for a few days and not letting the lawn become overgrown—signs to a burglar that nobody’s been home for a while.

Keeping windows and doors locked at all times, using a deadbolt on doors and Charlie bars on windows, and keeping lights on will also help repel burglars. You can even get semi-techy by installing a fake video camera above the front door that a thief won’t miss—this is a good deterrent to the bad guys.

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