Do It yourself home security getting easier

How would you like a home security system that’s also your personal assistant? Angee Inc., a new company out of San Francisco, knows you’d like one.

ANG2Features of the Angee Device

  • Smartphone controlled
  • Has a Full HD camera with night vision.
  • Learns habits of and senses presence of household members to automatically arm and disarm.
  • Camera rotates 360 degrees—and does so as it detects motion; intruders will not be able to get out of view while they’re burglarizing.
  • Security tags provide security of a property’s entire perimeter, so that entrance via a tagged door or window will be detected.

Furthermore, says an article on

  • The Angee system is portable, is powered by a battery and has local data storage.
  • So if there’s a power outage, Angee will be able to keep monitoring your home for at least eight hours.
  • Angee can record about an hour of high definition footage, and longer at lower quality.
  • Footage can also be stored in the cloud. However, Angee can distinguish between benign activity and suspicious activity, so there shouldn’t be any useless footage time.

How can Angee tell suspicious activity from normal activity?

  • It learns to recognize the movement patterns of household members. Intruders move differently.
  • Burglars also enter and exit their target homes in a peculiar manner.
  • If the burglar has an accomplice, there’s likely to be conversation, and Angee will detect these unfamiliar voices.
  • Angee will recognize familiar people by their voice or by a Bluetooth signal that connects with their smartphone.
  • If the Angee user has an iOS or Android, they will receive an alert when Angee detects suspicious activity; Angee will then stream video of this activity.

The article further explains that Angee can be controlled by voice commands, including recognition of vocal passwords. Angee is practically human, as it can even remind you to close windows if rain is predicted. It can also check your calendar and answer the phone. There are many ways the user can “program” Angee to behave, and Angee also gets smarter and more personalized the longer you have it in your home.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Angee Inc., has raised over $260,000 and is still going. The unit is projected to retail at $429, and the expected delivery date is October of 2016.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. Support Angee on Kickstarter. See Disclosures.

Butthead Burglar buttdials Cops

You know what a “buttdial” is. This is when a person has a seat somewhere, and the ensuring pressure of their butt against the seat accidentally presses upon the keypad of the phone that’s in their pocket. Or they don’t lock their phone and their fingers indiscriminately just call someone. Happens a lot.

What are the odds that the numbers that are pressed actually dial someone’s number? It’s pretty small, but it’s happened so much that the term “pocket dial” is now official English vernacular.

Here’s a better question: What are the odds that a buttdial dials 9-1-1? Next question: What are the odds that the buttdialer, at the time he butt dials, is talking about committing a burglary, and the 9-1-1 dispatcher overhears this?

Well, it happened. reports that a butt dial call came in to Somerset County dispatchers in New Jersey recently, and the inadvertent call allowed them to overhear burglary plans.

Scott Esser, 42, is now in jail on $100,000 bail after butt dialing on July 27. Nobody knows exactly what he did to accidentally place this call. All we know is that it rung 9-1-1, and dispatchers heard men discussing a burglary but were not able to track the location.

However, that evening, a burglary occurred in Branchburg. And by then, the cell phone company had learned that the butt call had been made by a phone assigned to Esser.

So detectives put out surveillance on Esser, following him as he drove to a home. Once he got out, the police lost sight of him. But he returned, and the detectives went to the home—and saw that it had been burglarized. They caught up with the butthead and arrested him.

His car contained jewelry and some pricey electronics, a gun, $11,300 worth of U.S. bonds, and burglary tools. Esser was then charged with burglaries not only in Branchburg, but in Stafford and Berkeley Heights. The butthead was busted.

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

A new kind of home security. Smart, voice controlled and autonomous

One of the reasons you—and many others—don’t have your alarm on during the day is because you know you’ll keep forgetting to turn it off every time you want to step into the garage or go outside. So you just keep it off. And that’s not smart because many home invasions and burglaries occur during daylight hours.

ANG1Typically, home security systems require you to push buttons.

  • What if you panic and forget the code?
  • What if you accidentally disable it?
  • What if your naughty visiting nephew messes with it?

It’s high time for the kind of home security system you’ve seen on ‘The Jetsons’—one that’s activated automatically when you leave your home.

Enter Angee—an up-and-coming company devoted to a smart, voice-controlled home security system.

What can Angees system do for you?

  • Say so long to those unsightly wall keypads where you might accidentally hit the wrong button.
  • Kiss goodbye to having to remember numerical codes, worrying if your elderly parent will remember it and worrying if a burglar could crack it.
  • By detecting the Bluetooth signal from your phone, Angee will automatically arm when you leave, and disarm when you arrive home.
  • As a backup method of identification should you lose your phone, or the battery run out, you can use voice recognition to disarm Angee. This can also be used for two-step authentication if you want to be extra secure.
  • Enjoying your private moments? Don’t want Angee to observe? Just say “Turn away.” You can even set Angee to automatically activate privacy mode when specific people are present at home.

Video Surveillance

  • Instead of cameras trained on one spot, Angee’s surveillance will respond to motion and rotate to face it. This allows Angee to capture events, wherever the action is. This way, an intruder will not be able to avoid camera range.

Angee Knows Youre Coming

  • When Angee is paired up with your smartphone, it will perform commands once you get near enough to your house after being out. So if you want the alarm to be disarmed as you approach your front door, Angee will do this—because it will detect when your mobile device is within a certain range.

There is a working prototype and the team behind it is on Kickstarter right now asking for your support to start serial production and make the future of smart home security reality:

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. See Disclosures.

How to Burglar Proof your Doors

Burglars love doors; they frequently gain entry by kicking them down and even using less aggression to get into a house—and that includes simply opening the door because it’s not locked.

2HDon’t believe that if a burglar wants to rob you badly enough, he’ll figure out a way to get in. While there is no such thing as 100% secure, in many cases, you CAN prevent a burglary. Since when do burglars enjoy the possibility of being seen messing around with someone’s front door for 20 minutes? Make it hard for them, make your house a tough target and they will move on.

  • Burglar proofing your door begins with making sure you have a decent door to start with, then building up from there. But first, let’s briefly discuss USING the lock that’s there. Often, burglars and home invaders get in by, as already mentioned, simply opening an unlocked door. If the occupant isn’t home, it’s a burglary. If they’re home, it’s a home invasion. If you’re home, even in the middle of the day, have all doors LOCKED. This costs you no time, muscle or brainstorming to pull off.
  • A locked door will stop many burglars, but not all. A hollow door is no good. If your door is hollow, you’ll need to replace it. If the door sounds hollow when you knock on it, it probably is.
  • To make a door kick-down proof, get a door that opens outward, towards someone standing outside of it. And as impossible as it seems to bust through a door like this, that’s not enough, however. A door should not have windows that could be broke and the locks accessed. Forget the décor and think security.
  • Many people don’t like the idea of a door that opens outward, which is all the more reason that more layers of security are needed besides having a solid wood door or a metal fire retardant door with no windows. And that begins with a deadbolt. The deadbolt does not replace the regular lock; it’s an addition. If you already have a deadbolt, look at it. Can you see screws on the outside? If so, replace it with one with screws only on the inside. The throw bolt should be at least one inch.
  • Install a peephole. Opening the door to see who’s there defeats the purpose of whatever deadbolt or reinforcements you have; once the door’s open, you’re game. Don’t think for a second that a determined intruder can’t bust one of those chain thingies that connect the door to the frame. The peephole should allow for a wide-angle view and have a cover so that an outsider can’t reverse the view with a reverse peephole viewer.
  • Do you know what a lock cylinder is? It’s where you stick the key in. Burglars can work these off. A metal guard plate can be installed around the cylinder to prevent removal.
  • Look at the door’s hinges. They should not be on the outside unless the door open out. If they are, they can be secured with non-removable hinge pins. For hinges on the inside, secure them with three-four-inch screws.
  • Examine the strike plate—the metal plate that’s around the door’s lock-set screwed into the door jamb. The strike plate should be heavy duty metal but the “stock” one you have is insufficient. The door jamb itself is made up of weak ½ inch pine and can easily be kicked in. Beef that puppy up with “door reinforcement” such as the Door Devil Door Reinforcement Kit. Not having reinforcement makes you an easy target.
  • What about the door frame? This counts, too. A weak door frame can be pried with a crowbar. The frame should be secured to the wall with several three-inch screws that reach the wall stud.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. 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 discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Can an App really act as a Bodyguard?

In the event of an attack, new smartphone applications can be used to send an alarm to a pre-chosen person. And the potential victims location can then be tracked.

1SDBut is this faster and more secure than a woman whipping out pepper spray and blasting a drunken buffoon who has her cornered in a parking garage at night?


Apps meant for personal security are simply one layer of protection but in no way should be relied upon for personal protection. I mean, come on!!!! IT’S AN APP!!!!!!!

For the iPhone and Android, one such app is called STOP-ATTACK. This can be programmed to call 9-1-1. Once this app is activated it will record video and audio that gets sent to a cloud. This way, you’ll have evidence of who was on top of whom or if someone really did reach into their pocket and pull out a metallic-looking object.

The threatening person won’t even know he’s being recorded. STOP-ATTACK also has an alarm and light that, once triggered, might scare off the perpetrator. It can be activated without actually logging into your phone if your device normally requires a security code. You get all this for $3.99 per year.

Will STOP-ATTACK actually stop an attack? NO. The name is misleading.

Others are out there (e.g., StaySafe, Circle of 6, Panic and Guardly), but the bottom line is that there’s really no reason not to have one—even if you’re a big brute. Women concerned about assault represent one slice of the pie. Muggings over smartphones are getting more common, and often, victims are men.

Like with the can of mace, the potential victim needs to be prepared to handle the smartphone’s security feature very quickly, even slyly, before the perpetrator can grab it—whether he just wants the phone or wants to commit assault. So if the phone is in a woman’s purse while she’s walking around town alone past midnight, it does no good.

Nevertheless, an application like this adds a layer of security to the user. The user needs to insert some human factor into the equation when a threat arises. If a woman senses danger, and she must dig into the deep crevasses of her purse to locate her smartphone…she could have already bolted from danger or leveled a right hook into the would-be assailant’s temple. A trained woman can debilitate an attacker with proper training. But please, DO NOT rely on an app to protect you.

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

Deadbolt, gotta gotta have It

Deadbolts aren’t hyped up; they really are superior to regular knob locks. Though we keep shaking our head in amazement whenever yet another news story comes out about a burglar or rapist who waltzed through an unlocked door and committed mayhem, it remains a hard fact that many criminals gain entry via physical force.

1BYes, what you see in movies and TV shows is true: People CAN kick open a locked door—that’s either missing a deadbolt, has a faulty one or simply because a door jamb itself is just half inch pine. In that case, door reinforcement technologies are needed. Read on.

Nearly 60 percent of burglaries are forced-entry. Many occur during the day. Face it; at a minimum, you need a deadbolt. It can be either single-cylinder or double-cylinder (check the legality regarding doubles).

The door jamb will have a hole for the bolt to extend fully into—partially isn’t good enough. A metal strike plate should reinforce the hole. If both of these factors are not in place, an intruder can force open the door.

In addition, the strike plate should be fastened into the studs of the door frame with three-inch screws.

Finally…the deadbolt needs to be USED. It’s easier to always ensure this if you have a single-cylinder because it requires just a turn of its knob (from the inside). The double-cylinder requires a key from the inside—in place of that little knob. So every time you come home and lock the deadbolt, you’ll need a key. Every time you want to step outside…you’ll need a key to unlock it. Double deadbolts are a little dangerous too due to fires as well. So not recommended.

However, if you have the single-cylinder, and your door is right beside a window, an intruder could smash through the window and reach in and turn the knob of the single-cylinder, unlocking it.

Door Security

  • If you don’t want the hassle of a double-cylinder, consider replacing the door so that windows aren’t close enough to it for an intruder’s arm to reach through.
  • The decision isn’t whether or not to get a deadbolt; it’s what type of deadbolt and door…because it can’t be said enough: A door with only a regular lock can easily be kicked in—by a slight woman—because the standard lock involves a few little screws, one or two little strike plates and a thin pine wood door frame with thin molding.
  • However, this thin wood can be empowered by the Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jam Security Kit. It’s a four-foot-long bar of steel that’s one-sixteenth-inch thick. It gets installed on the center of the door jamb, over the little strike plates. An intruder must get past this; fat chance, because four feet of the door frame will absorb the intruder’s attempted force.
  • The Door Devil’s thick screws are three and a half inches long, and when placed into the 2 x 4 studs (also part of the kit) behind the frame, reinforce the door hinges.
  • You might be thinking, if an intruder is determined enough, he’ll keep kicking till the door busts. What do you think an intruder is, a kickboxing instructor? If he can’t dismantle the door after two, maybe even one, kick, he’ll move on to the next house.
  • Of course, he might not want to even try to kick down your door if he notices a surveillance camera above it—after the motion detector light beams onto him.

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

The most prolific Serial Killer…ever

Charles Cullen of New Jersey may have murdered up to 400 people, though around 35 murders have been confirmed. He’s currently serving a sentence of 127 years. As a nurse, he killed patients at the hospitals he worked at. A form or mercy killing as he believed his actions to be.

7HUnlike some serial killers who torture their victims, rape them and even have sex with the corpses, claiming “curiosity” or “fun” as the motives, Cullen claims he killed his victims to spare them from coding, which is dying as a result of cardiac or respiratory distress. His reasoning was he put them out of their misery first.

It’s not so much that Cullen didn’t want the patients to suffer. Instead, he told detectives he couldn’t stand to witness or even hear about resuscitation attempts. However, why was he a nurse in the first place, knowing that witnessing these events would be part of the job? Nut-job.

Nevertheless, this whack job also informed authorities that he indeed wanted to spare patients from suffering and perhaps prevent staff from keeping a vegetable alive after cardiac arrest damaged the brain. These motives are highly questionable because many of the victims were scheduled to be released from the hospital soon before they were killed (via drug overdoses).

Cullen admitted that each murder was a spontaneous event rather than a long, thought-out premeditation. He told authorities that much of his existence took place in a fog and that he lacked the memories of most of the killings. He said he couldn’t explain why he chose the particular victims. The killings spanned 16 years.

On December 12, 2003, Cullen was arrested. A few days later he told detectives that he killed Rev. Florian Gall and tried to kill Jin Kyung Han, both hospital patients. He then told them he had killed up to 40 people.

In April 2004, Cullen pleaded guilty to murdering 13 patients via lethal injection. The reason he never got the death penalty was due to a plea agreement to cooperate with authorities. Not long after he pleaded guilty to several more murders.

At present, Cullen remains at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

Cullen doesn’t quite fit the bill of a classic psychopath. He apparently didn’t use any prowess with cunning and manipulation to murder his victims. Rather, his crimes were sneaky, and the victims likely had no idea what was happening to them.

Psychopaths don’t act crazy, but on March 10, 2006, Cullen exhibited really weird behavior in a courtroom for a sentencing hearing. He was upset with Judge William H. Platt. Cullen kept telling the judge over a 30 minute period, “Your honor, you need to step down.” After the judge ordered that he have his mouth stuffed with cloth and duct-taped shut, Cullen continued muttering under the gagging.

A psychopath is not someone who’d want to give up a kidney to another person, especially if the sick person was as far removed as the brother of a former girlfriend would be. But in August 2006, Cullen gave up a kidney for the brother.

Cullen is the youngest of eight kids. When he was born, his father was 58, and the father died when Cullen was an infant. When he was a teenager, his mother died in a car wreck. Cullen reported that his childhood was awful, but it’s not clear just how, especially since the death of his mother devastated him (versus relieved him, which in that case, would indicate she had abused him).

A very disturbing element of all of this is that his homicidal rampage went undetected for so long, but that also, the various medical facilities Cullen worked at turned a blind eye when they did suspect him of harming patients.

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

10 Holiday home security checklist tips

You can have peace of mind while away from home during the holidays by implementing the following home security tips.

  1. 1SHome vacation checks. Arrange with your local police department to periodically cruise by your house when you’re out of town.
  2. Alert your neighborhood watch group. Inform the group of your vacation plans so they can be extra alert to suspicious activity about your house. If there’s no formal watch group, ask a friend or neighbor to check up on your residence. This includes having them remove any packages on your doorstep or accumulated newspapers.
  3. Police inspection. Schedule a police officer to assess your residence for security ideas.
  4. Update the burglar alarm. Inform the alarm company you’ll be out of town; provide them a phone number where you can be contacted. Give the alarm company the phone number of anyone checking up on your residence. If the alarm is tripped, the company will be speaking to you or your friend, rather than the burglar in the house when he picks up the phone.
  5. Inspect motion detectors. Make sure that motion detectors cannot be set off by billowing curtains or pets.
  6. Secure all portals. Make sure all the locks work. Repair any cracks in doors or windows. Set the pin lock on your garage if it opens by remote. Sliding doors should have bars that prevent giggling them open.
  7. Conceal valuables. Keep valuable items out of sight from peepers outside the house. Don’t keep spare keys in places obvious to burglars such as under a flower pot or fake rock. Remove valuable items from sight in your car, if parked in the driveway, and put a lock on the steering wheel.
  8. Stop mail and newspaper delivery. Arrange with the post office and newspaper service to have your mail and newspaper on vacation hold.
  9. A lived-in look. Mow your lawn just before you leave for a long trip so that it looks recently cared for. Use automatic light timers for holiday lights if your house is decorated with these to fool burglars that you’re home.
  10. Discard any signs you have expensive items in the house. Examples might be empty computer containers or flat screen TV boxes lying around outside. Store bikes, toys, etc., in the garage.

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