10 Huge Home Security Mistakes

Though it would be nice to think that you can fix something if you make a mistake, there are some where there is just no going back. And in some cases, these mistakes can be tragic. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that people make with their home security:

  1. Leaving Doors Unlocked – It only takes two seconds to lock your door. It should be a habit. It doesn’t matter if you are just gardening in the backyard or running to the store for 5 minutes in the middle of the afternoon, lock the door. Often, a burglar rings the doorbell. If there is no answer, they jiggle the knob. If the door opens, he lets himself in and starts ransacking the place. They can do the same thing with windows.
  2. Not Setting Alarms – You shouldn’t assume that a break in only occurs when you are gone. A guy high on crack won’t care if you are home or not. So, keep your alarm on when you are home, and only disable it when you have to go out momentarily.
  3. Being Too Cheap – Don’t settle for a cheap lock. Locks can be easily picked by using what’s called a “bump key”. Remember, you get what you pay for. So, spend the cash on a good lock. There is a dramatic difference between a lock that costs $20 and one that costs $60.
  4. Keeping a Ladder in the Yard – Keeping a ladder in your yard is almost the exact same thing as leaving your door right open with a “Welcome Burglar” sign on your home. A bad guy can easily use that ladder to get into your home. At least lock up the ladder.
  5. Hiding Keys – Even the dumbest criminals know that people hide house keys under fake rocks, flower pots, and welcome mats. Instead, make the small investment into a keyless lock. Or buy a lock box.
  6. Putting Your Valuables on Display – Use caution when you display expensive items. This is especially the case if you can see them from the window. If you can’t move these items, make sure to keep the shades down.
  7. Keeping Your Garage Unlocked – Don’t just leave your garage open or unlocked. There is a lot of valuable stuff in there, and a burglar might even gain access to your house via the garage.
  8. Not Using Lights at Night – A dark yard or home is a sign that no one is home. In other words, the perfect time for a thief to get into your house. So, set up timed and motion sensitive lighting on the exterior and interior of the home. Also, leave a radio or television on when you are gone.
  9. Leaving Deliveries Out or Not Cleaning the Yard – A sure sign that you are gone, and your home is open for burglars, is a pile of mail or newspapers. It’s also a sign if your lawn is overgrown. So, ask someone to grab your mail, park in your driveway and mow your lawn when you are on vacation.
  10. Displaying Their Good Trash – If you see a neighbor place a large Sony box with a television printed on it or a Dell cardboard box on the curb, you can easily deduce that they just got high end electronics. Robbers know this, and they know that something very valuable is in the home they can sell for drugs.

Bonus…#11…Putting their Life on Social Media – Do not post on social media when you are on a trip. Save it for when you are home. Why? Because burglars are looking for those posts, too.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

45 Home Security Tips That Help to Keep Burglars Away

If you have a home, you should be worried about burglars. Here are 44 home security tips that you can use to keep the burglars away:

  1. Keep your doors locked all of the time.
  2. Use a deadbolt on every door.
  3. Don’t leave ladders outside.
  4. Teach young kids NOT to answer the door.
  5. Make sure there are no valuables sitting out that someone could see from the window.
  6. Keep curtains and shades drawn tight at night.
  7. Install a peephole.
  8. Don’t answer the door unless you expect someone.
  9. Cover all windows with an anti-penetration film known as shatter proof window film.
  10. Put a “beware of dog” sign in the front and back of your property.
  11. If you don’t have a dog, make it look like you do. Drape a large leash over your outdoor furniture, place a large food bowl with water outside, and even throw some dog toys in the yard.
  12. Don’t leave the garage door open or unlocked, ever.
  13. Put your valuables in a sock and hide them under your bathroom vanity. Burglars don’t often check bathrooms.
  14. Even better, put it in a fireproof safe.
  15. Make sure all of your window locks work, and make sure to lock all windows at night.
  16. Don’t allow bushes to grow too high near the home. These offer hiding places for burglars.
  17. Plant thorny bushes around the windows and doors.
  18. Teach your family about fire escape, and then conduct “home invasion drills”
  19. If there are no men in the house, create the illusion of one. Place old, worn men’s work boots by the door along with a tool box.
  20. Make sure all of your window screens are in excellent condition, not torn.
  21. Use stoppers or Charlie bars in all window tracks.
  22. Get a new security system, and make sure it includes motion sensors and cameras.
  23. Place a video surveillance camera, or even a fake one, above the front and back door where it is always visible.
  24. If you are planning a vacation, talk to a neighbor about parking their car in your driveway. Also, ask someone to mow your lawn.
  25. When away, put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery.
  26. Set up a system that turns on lights inside and out when you are home or away. This way, it looks like you are home.
  27. Don’t post about your vacation on social media until you get home. Burglars look for those posts.
  28. Put decals from a security company on your windows and front door.
  29. Put a security system sign in both the front and the back yard.
  30. Don’t talk about your travel plans with preachers, service people, survey takers, or salespeople. They may not have bad intentions, but people talk too much.
  31. Install a lockbox for spare keys.
  32. Consider building a “safe room.”
  33. Make sure your home’s address is large and very visible from the street.
  34. Put your name inside opposed to outside the mailbox. No need to broadcast it to buglers
  35. Don’t say “We aren’t home right now” on your voice mail recording.
  36. Check all windows after you have a service person in your home. Sometimes, they leave windows open so that they can get in later.
  37. Consider keyless smart locks.
  38. Get a protection dog.
  39. Take a self defense course.
  40. Don’t leave any packages sitting outside of your house. Instead, schedule packages when you can sign for them or use a sign-for service.
  41. Have a phone on your night stand.
  42. Install a good door reinforcement system. Door Devil is a good one.
  43. If you leave the house, turn off the ringer of your home phone. This way, burglars won’t hear it ring without anyone picking it up.
  44. Give a key to your home to a trusted neighbor. Don’t ever leave it under a plastic rock, welcome mat, or a flower pot.
  45. Assume that the guy who knocks at the door representing your alarm company who just shows up wants to rob you.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Busting Down the Door: 12 Ways to Stop Burglars from Entering Your Home

There is no such thing as a home that is fully burglar-proof, but there is also no such thing as burglars who have the skills of Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible. With the right security in place, you can get your home almost burglar-proof.

When most people think of security, they only think of a few devices, and though they are great to have, they don’t protect you fully. Yes, you might have fake looking cameras that deter thieves, but what about those who try to get in anyway. Kicking the door in, which is an easy way a criminal gets into a locked home, can still be done. The only thing separating a burglar from getting in through a locked door is half inch pine molding. A 12 year old boy can kick in a door easy enough. You need to beef up your doors.

Here are some door reinforcement devices that can help:

  • Deadbolt/door knob wraps – these strengthen the immediate area around the lock
  • Door bar jammer – fits snuggly under the doorknob
  • Door brace – device that makes it more difficult to kick a door down
  • Door frame reinforcement – installed on the door jamb and made of steel

You can also use commercial kits like the Door Devil. This is a kit that contains a device made of heavy steel. It is installed over the door jamb, and is screwed directly into the frame. The system is easy to install, and it will add another level of protection to your home. When you combine this with other types of security, such as motion detection lights, surveillance cameras, and a security system, it will be very difficult for burglars to enter.

Here are some more general tips to keep your home more secure than ever before:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. Keep them locked when you are home and even during the day.
  2. Always keep your windows locked. This includes those on the second floor. A burglar can certainly climb.
  3. Keep the blinds and curtains closed. This helps to ensure that no one can look into your home to check out your valuables.
  4. Use top-flight locks and door reinforcements.
  5. Install security films on your windows. These will help to give the panes strength and will prevent penetrating objects from coming in, such as crow bars and baseball bats.
  6. Collect your mail and newspapers as soon as possible when they arrive.
  7. Give your home that ‘lived-in’ look with a system for home automation turning lights on and off.
  8. Place men’s work boots at the front or back door and make sure they look worn and scuffed. If you park your car out in the drive, place men’s gloves on the dash. If burglars see this, they will think twice as they will believe there is a large man in the home.
  9. Place a large dog bowl by the door, and make sure to make it look realistic. Add chewed up dog toys or a leash to the area, too.
  10. Make sure to trim shrubs that are hiding home entry points.
  11. Go to Google News. Type in your city and state along with the phrase “door kicked in.” You will likely be shocked by what you find. This will be more motivation to protect yourself.
  12. Make the investment into a beefy home security system. The best systems offer full alarm and police station monitoring along with cameras providing a clear view of what is happening in your home when you aren’t there. You can watch right on your mobile device.

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

20 Home Security Tips

Angee, the new Kickstarter campaign that raised over $250,000 already, will revolutionize home security in more ways than one. Meanwhile, get going on these 20 home security tips: ANG3

  • Keep all doors and windows locked at all times. Yes, on hot summer days it’s tempting to keep windows open, but at least be very discriminate about this.
  • Keep the garage door closed at all times, even on hot days. But if you’re positive that leaving it slightly open cools the rest of the house, limit this to about four inches.
  • Reinforce doors with door jamb reinforcements.
  • All doors should have high grade deadbolts.
  • All first-story and basement windows should have Charlie bars, rods or gadgets that prevent horizontally-sliding windows from being slid open.
  • The address numbers for your house should be big and easy for first responders to see.
  • Though you may not care what your grass looks like when not cut, burglars do. That’s because a lawn that looks like it hasn’t been cared for in a while makes burglars think nobody’s been home for weeks…
  • And speaking of which, burglars also notice if paper delivery has been accumulating, or the house is always dark in the evenings. If you’re away a lot or don’t use much lighting when you’re home, use automatic lighting devices.
  • Never put a note on any door outside that says you’ll “be back in a few.”
  • Before you go out on errands, put the phone’s ringer on mute so that burglars don’t hear unanswered rings.
  • Before dusk approaches, close curtains and blinds. A favorite way burglars case houses is to look inside when it’s dark.
  • Never smoke when drowsy and always rinse butts before tossing them.
  • Never hide spare keys near your front door; a burglar will find them. Give to a trusted neighbour or other adult.
  • Put valuables in a safe—preferably a big one (small safes are often stolen without being picked open on the spot).
  • Doors should have peepholes. Never open the door if you can’t tell who’s there and are not expecting anyone.
  • Have a smoke alarm on each floor.
  • Devise a fire escape plan and then regularly drill the family in it.
  • Always turn off hot things like curling irons when you’re not using them.
  • Never leave anything burning while you’re outside the house.
  • Flammable items should be kept away from the house. This includes dried up leaves and brush.

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

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 gizmag.com:

  • 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 gizmag.com 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.

Usatoday.com 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 BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Using a knife for survival

An article at indefinitelywild.gizmodo.com informs on how to use a knife safely and efficiently for survival.

1MSafety

  • For outdoors, carry a fixed-blade knife, as this is less likely to break.
  • The knife should always stay in its sheath. Otherwise, you could stumble and fall into it, slicing and dicing an organ.
  • Practice drawing the knife so that you don’t accidentally grab the sheath or somehow get cut. You may need to draw it at a second’s notice.
  • The draw should have two steps. First, take the handle with your forehand to loosen the blade in the sheath; push against the sheath with your thumb. Next, wrap thumb around handle and slowly withdraw the knife away from your body.
  • Always use slow movements with a knife.
  • When giving a knife to someone, use a forehand grip; rotate knife between forefinger and thumb. The handle should face the recipient, edge of knife pointed up. Do not release the knife until the recipient has a secure hold.
  • A sharper blade is safer because it requires less force, so always keep it sharpened.

Gripping a Knife

  • For most tasks, use a forehand grip: Knife is inside your fist, its edge facing your first finger.
  • This is why before you buy a knife, first make sure you can completely close a fist around the handle. Huge handles are no good.
  • A reverse grip is preferable when cutting cords of any type. The knife edge points towards the thumb. And pull with your shoulder or torso rather than arm to avoid an over-pull.
  • Chest lever grip. Hold blade with edge pointed in reverse direction to the forehand grip, pointed up towards knuckles.

Knife Uses

  • Chopping wood. Place knife with forehand grip against the wood. Use a wooden object shaped like a baton to “hammer” the blade through the wood.
  • Splitting wood. Place knife’s blade, using forehand grip, over the wood. Use the baton to drive it through in the direction of the grain.
  • Slicing. You’ve certainly already done this many times at home: slicing celery, carrots, lettuce, bread, apples (if you’re a man you should know how to do these things!). The key in survival or outdoor slicing is to slice with a forehand grip against a surface that mimics a cutting board at home.
  • Power cutting. Use the chest lever grip while securely holding the object you want to cut. Draw the blade through it hard, using your back muscles.
  • Controlled cutting. The chest lever grip is also used, but you work your way around the object being cut.
  • Drilling. Place tip of knife onto the object (knife is vertical) and begin twisting right and left. Don’t be too forceful or your hand might slip down the knife.

With any use or grip of a knife, always make sure—before you begin the task—that no body part is in the path of the knife if the knife were to slip.

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

44 Tips to protecting your home from danger

There are enough tips on how to protect your home to make a professional burglar dizzy. In no particular order, check them out: 6H

  • Get a peephole.
  • If you don’t have a large dog, make it look like you do, but don’t be obvious. A worn, large leash draped over an outdoor chair would be more convincing than a large food bowl near your door.
  • Put a beware of dog sign in the back (front is too obvious a ploy).
  • If there’s not a man in the house, leave out an old pair of men’s work boots or tool box on the front stoop.
  • Keep doors locked at all times.
  • Never leave the garage door open unless you must pass under it.
  • Never leave a ladder outside.
  • Place a real or fake video surveillance camera above the front door where anyone can easily see it.
  • Get a security system that includes motion detecting lights at all entry points.
  • Make sure no shrubs conceal windows. Plant thorny bushes by windows.
  • Stash what valuables you can in a sock inside your child’s bureau (burglars rarely check children’s rooms).
  • For other valuables, store in a fireproof safe.
  • Use Charlie bars or stoppers on the tracks of your windows.
  • Cover your windows with penetration-proof film.
  • Use deadbolts.
  • Keep your shades down and curtains drawn at night.
  • Make sure no valuables are visible through any windows.
  • Before you leave for vacation, arrange to have someone mow your lawn and park their car in your driveway.
  • Before you leave for travel, put a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper delivery.
  • Use an automatic timed lighting system for when you’re away.
  • Make sure all the screens in your windows are in excellent condition.
  • Make sure all the locks on your windows work—and keep your windows locked overnight!
  • Have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on each floor.
  • Conduct staged fire escape drills for the entire family.
  • Never post vacation plans or even evening plans on social media.
  • Put your home security’s sign in the front and back yards.
  • Put their decals on your front door and windows.
  • Don’t allow dried-up leaves or brush to collect on your property.
  • Have a “secret room” built.
  • Don’t answer the door unless you’re expecting someone.
  • Always check your windows after a service person has left the house (they may have unlocked one as an entry point for a later burglary).
  • Never reveal to service people, salespeople, survey takers, preachers or anyone else at your door of your travel plans.
  • Make sure your voice mail recording doesn’t say, “We’re not home now…”
  • Make sure your house’s address numbers are big and easily viewable.
  • If you can’t quit smoking, then rinse the butts before discarding.
  • Keep all flammable material away from the house.
  • Give a spare house key to a trusted neighbor; never leave it under a welcome mat, flower pot or plastic rock.
  • Never step outside the house while the fireplace or a candle is burning.
  • Never leave hot things plugged in unless you’re using them.
  • Install high-grade door reinforcement technology. Door Devil, is the door jamb reinforcement I use.
  • Before leaving the house, turn your phone’s ringer to silent so prowlers don’t hear unanswered ringing.
  • Never have packages sitting outside your door; use a sign-for service.
  • Keep a phone at your bedside.
  • Assume the man at your door claiming to represent your alarm company, whom you’re not expecting, wants to rob you.

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

Home Monitoring Products go Mainstream

With the explosion of security-based home surveillance products/apps, there’s a growing trend in getting surveillance systems that monitor users themselves.

1HPiper

This product’s wide-angle camera allows you to view live video of your home, from anywhere, right on your smartphone. It can:

  • Detect motion
  • Control lights, temperature and appliances
  • Record short videos
  • View inside the home

Canary

Similar to Piper, it provides:

  • Live video and audio
  • Motion detection
  • Night vision
  • Air-quality monitoring

Doorbot

This app allows you to see who’s at your house’s door, regardless of where you are.

  • Better than a peephole.
  • Consider it “visitor ID.”
  • You can answer the door remotely.

There’s no need to do anything while these home monitoring systems nonchalantly collect data. Imagine all the advantages of such technology: catching a burglar is the best benefit, but what about catching a spouse cheating; catching your kids doing drugs; seeing that your kids came home from school safely; learning who in the household keeps drinking up all the soda. Though such surveillance can start out as very annoying, people can become quite used to it, say experts.

Some experts claim that this technology may bring the entire clan closer together. Others insist that it’s spying: checking up on someone without their permission. I have similar systems and use them to watch the home while on business along with check in on the family having dinner. It makes being apart not as difficult.

When this kind of technology becomes the standard and not the exception (and you can count on that shift), it will be the new normal, something that people will know about from an early age, the way life is. It may seem potentially intrusive now because it’s new; it’s not our normal, yet.

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

2010 Saw Dramatic Rise In Home Invasions

Maybe it’s the economy or maybe people are just getting nuttier, but my news alerts have been pouring in describing horrific home-invasions with many resulting in growing levels of violence.

In some places, there is a correlation between home invasions and organized crime, drugs, prostitution and gambling.

In Calgary, our neighbor to the north, the Calgary Herald reports “The violent home confrontations typically see victims assaulted, threatened and bound with duct tape, plastic zip ties or rope while thieves ransack their homes for cash and valuables.”

It seems that home invasion has become a crime that knows no boundaries.

The pseudo good news is in 2/3rd of the home invasion cases the parties involved (invaded and invaders) were heavily into lowlife activities. So if you are not dealing drugs or involved in gang activity then you’re less susceptible.

However in almost 1/3rd of the cases the victims were people who kept large sums of money in their homes. So if you are a person who stuffs your mattress with cash you are more vulnerable.

If you fit into the category of mattress stuffer:

#1 Put your money in the bank! It makes no sense to have wads of cash around. Even if it’s in a safe, a home invader will force you to open it.

#2 If you insist on having wads of cash around then tell no-one! Home invaders are often deprived people in a position of trust who turn on their victim.

#3 Take some of that money and invest it into a home security system. For about a dollar a day your home can be fully monitored and alarmed.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.