Smart Home Security Tips

It’s well-worth your time and money to make a burglar’s job very difficult. Employ the following home security tips:

5HLock up! How many times have you read about a home intruder who “entered through an unlocked window”? Keep your windows and doors locked as much as possible.

Deadbolts. A deadbolt makes an incredible difference. Even a “determined” thief wants a quick, easy job. A decent deadbolt is about $25; you’ll get what you pay for. Lock it when you’re at home, too.

Home security. You can even do this yourself. A cheap system will sound an alarm that no burglar will want to stick around for. You can install a basic system including a keypad and door sensors for $25 online. Add on features like wireless keyfobs, motion detectors, etc. However, if the money is there, invest in a monitored system. The monthly fee is cheaper than you think.

Use curtains/blinds. A potential burglar won’t be interested in your home if he can’t see in. When you’re gone during the day, close the curtains/blinds unless your plants need the light to survive. If you’re home and want to admire the view, at least close the curtains on windows through which you’re not admiring any view. Never leave them open once dusk hits.

Shrubbery. If you absolutely must have shrubs near entry points to your home, then make sure they’re thorny so that a burglar doesn’t hide in them. If what’s already there isn’t thorny, have it trimmed down so that a burglar can’t hide there.

Sliding door security. Place a wooden rod in the door track frame.

Be safe. With a safe, that is. A fireproof safe is less than $40. Until you get a safe, put your jewelry in a place a burglar would never look: like a covered Styrofoam cup next to the mouthwash bottle.

Don’t forget the garage. Keep the garage door closed at all times, even if you have an in-and-out lifestyle. You can buy a garage door timer for under $40 that automatically shuts the door after a predetermined time period. But if you want to keep it open, the device has a manual override.

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

Going to Plan B for Survival

If your “Plan A” for survival sinks, do you have a Plan B backup?

1MForget rushing to the grocery store when disaster like a snowstorm strikes. Everyone else will have the same idea. Need I say more?

The supermarket and the convenience store are the first places a panicking town will flock to for food and water. While they’re duking it out there, you can obtain essential supplies at other places where the masses of people won’t even think to look.

Before some critical event hits, locate all the businesses and water sources within two miles of your home. When compiling this list, don’t assume that any particular business can’t possibly have something valuable. Once the list is complete, sift through it to determine if any have any valuable items. Take your time.

Businesses you might never think have water will have water, such as a dental clinic: bottled water. Same with beauty spas and health clubs. Many gyms also sell food. Don’t blow off the hobby shop: It might sell craft wood and twine. And don’t scratch off an office supply store: the big ones sell candy. Major bookstores sell bottled beverages, pastries and sandwiches.

Make sure you have a bicycle to get to these businesses in the event of a disaster, because a car won’t be practical during or after an event like a tornado, hurricane or flood. And don’t wait for the event to see if the bike works.

If you normally walk your dog or do fitness walks or runs, take different routes to get used to all the different routes throughout your town, in the event that a calamity obstructs your main route. You’ll then instantly know an alternate route to get to a business to obtain essential supplies.

Finally, keep physically fit. Pedaling a bike for a few miles with a duffel bag full of food and bottled water will be very taxing for an out-of-shape person.

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

Can Home Invasion of Elderly Cause Heart Attack?

I’m a home security expert and have given many speeches on how to protect your home from an invasion, but one of the topics that doesn’t seem to get much attention is the possibility of a heart attack being triggered in an elderly homeowner by the stress of an intrusion.

2BHere are two alarming cases of heart attack in the elderly apparently caused by the stress of a home invasion.

Mildred Pollock, age 89, suffered fatal heart failure a week after two men robbed her inside her house, as reported by WALB News 10 of Mitchell County, GA.

Here’s how it all went down: Two men posed as salesmen and showed up at the elderly victim’s door at about 4:30 pm. The men ended up inside her house. (The report doesn’t say if she invited them in; if they invited themselves in and she accepted; or if they forced their way in.)

But for sure, they removed the elderly woman’s alert pendant and held her to a chair, taking her phones away. The men wanted money, found none, and then left.

Pollock called for help with a backup alert button, was taken to the hospital, and succumbed to heart failure a week later. The home invaders face felony murder charges, even though an autopsy showed clogged arteries in her heart.

However, reports the case of another elderly victim, age 76, who suffered a mild heart attack the night of a home invasion, after which her health rapidly declined and she died several weeks later.

The forensic examiner attributes the heart attack to the stress of the home invasion/robbery, even though the victim had a pre-existing heart condition.

Tips for Preventing a Home Invasion

  • Always speak to strangers through a locked door, never a screen door, let alone open door.
  • Forbid children to respond to knocks and doorbells.
  • Keep a burglar alarm on at all times, but you must remember to deactivate it every time you open a door or window.
  • Install a video surveillance system: a marvelous deterrent to home invasion.

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.

10 Considerations When Choosing a Home Security System

1.    Do some research. What is the installer’s reputation and history?  How large is the company?  How many current customers?  Is it local or nationwide?  Is their primary business security?

2.    How “new” is the home security product? Today’s home security systems are far more superior than those available in past years.

3.    Does the home security company offer monitoring? A reputable home security company should provide its own central station monitoring instead of having another company monitor for them.

4.   Does the home security company have redundant monitoring facilities? Make sure they have backup monitoring centers throughout the country in case of natural or manmade disaster.

5.   Does the home security company’s monitoring facility have back-up power? Find out if the monitoring facility has gas or electric-powered generators – as well as battery back-up to ensure that monitoring continues despite power failures.

6.    Spend time thinking about the “amount” of security you need. The basic elements of a standard system include a key pad, a control panel, a siren, an inside motion detector, at least two door contacts, as well as connection to a central monitoring station for around the clock coverage. I’d recommend cameras too.

7.    Secure your home from “hidden” household dangers. Equip your home with effective smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and flood detection systems.

8.    Ease-of-use and convenience to ensure a high level of usage. Be sure to choose something that can be armed and disarmed easily by all family members.

9.    Make sure the system you install has a battery back-up. If the power goes out, you want the monitoring and protection continuous.

1.    What other benefits does the company offer?

# A money-back service guarantee?

# Guarantee against theft?

# A relocation package so a new security system is installed in case you move?

# Is there a Web site that provides customer service?

# Is there a website that you can access your system and control it remotely?

Be sure to spend time with your security specialist to develop a security plan and system that meets you and your family’s specific needs.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Home Security on NBC Boston.

How to Prevent Door to Door Scams

A close friend called to tell me a man knocked on her door to sell her on repaving her driveway. In the process, he requested she invite him in to discuss it further and go over different options. The man was persistent and if my friend was anyone else, he may have gotten in. However, she is savvier than that and reminded him that her German Shepherd would not appreciate anyone coming in the house.

Call them con men, grifters, scammers, or thieves. Or simply call them liars. Lying is what they do best. Face to face, via email or over the phone they lie through their teeth. They do it casually and with such conviction that we have no reason not to believe them.

These people will stand in your doorway and, in some cases, keep you talking until you buy something or persist till they get into your home. Remember, whatever you tell them can be used against you.

For example, if they act as a home alarm salesman and find out you don’t have an alarm, they may break into your house. If you tell them who your home alarm is with, they may call you at a later date posing as that alarm company and request “updated credit card numbers”.

This “request” is best resolved by not answering any questions at all, or telling the person at the front door (while you speak to them through the locked door) you are not interested. No matter what, never give them Social Security or credit card numbers, or tell them whether or not you have a home alarm.

The key is to stop being so nice and SAY NO as quickly as possible and always do it through a locked door.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing scammers and thieves on The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch.

New Jersey Home Robbery: One Unlocked Window Brings a Life of Pain

Robbery as defined in Wikipedia is the crime of seizing property through violence or intimidation. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Robbery differs from simple theft, a break-in or burglary on its use of violence and intimidation.

Many of us are told that when you are attacked to let it happen so it doesn’t get any worse. In some cases that may be your only option. Studies have also shown that fighting back might be a better option. Showing resistance and making it difficult for your attacker to do their job often helps you get to safety.

In New Jersey near Atlantic City “a woman, identified only as “L. L.” in documents, was asleep in her bed and a 28 year old man crawled in an open window at about 1:30 a.m. L.L. heard something fall, got up to investigate the noise and met the home invader  inside her home.

The predator is accused of beating and raping her, then filling a trash bag with personal items in order to derail an investigation before fleeing her home. Armed with a knife, police said, he threatened to kill L.L. if she talked with authorities.”

The best course of action is always to put systems in place to avoid having to confront a predator in the first place.

There are some things that can be done to reduce the chances that your home is targeted for robbery:
1. Install outdoor lighting that may keep the bad guy away

2. Lock all doors and windows always
3. Install security cameras
4. Install a home alarm system. Have a panic button for your home alarm that calls for help and sends a screaming alarm
5. Always run to safety when attacked. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home invasions on the Gordon Elliot Show.

Prolific Burglar Shares Tips from Prison

Who better to tell you how to protect your home than a career criminal that began breaking into homes at the tender age of 14. Up until he was finally jailed,  he fed a heroin addiction for almost 30 years by breaking into over 200 homes. That’s an average of breaking into one home every 2 months for 30 years!

How he chose homes:

He randomly chose single level homes that had open shades where he could see inside if anyone was home. He cased the homes over a few days.

Often he would choose a home near the parking lot of a business, church or other establishment where he could park his car unnoticed.

A big attraction was if he saw any degree of mail or newspapers accumulating. One to 2 days worth of mail would prompt him to case the home further. If the home didn’t have that “lived in look” he would knock on the front door, ring the bell, tap on windows and if nobody answered he would jiggle the doorknob.

He also looked at a home’s lighting. If an exterior light was on at 2pm during daylight and still on at 4am, then it was likely the person was away from the home and left the light on to give the false impression they were home at night, not thinking a burglar would notice the light during the day.

What homes he avoided:

Any home with a “Beware of Dog” sign or any pictures of dogs wasn’t worth the risk. If the home had the appearance of a home security system, home security cameras, signage, stickers or a visible alarm keypad, he avoided the home saying again, it’s not worth the risk.

I think it’s pretty clear what you should do and what you shouldn’t do to attract the attention and deter a burglar.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston.

5 Tips to Help Prevent Home Invasion

Warning: This is about to get very graphic. The Boston Globe reports “A woman hacked to death with a machete and knife in her home was alive for all 32 slash and stab wounds that split open her skull, sliced through bones and pierced organs, a medical examiner testified.”

Steven Spader, 17 years old at the time formed “Disciples of Destruction” a gang, “pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and burglary and witness tampering. He was 17 when prosecutors say he plotted the home invasion and rounded up the three other young men who accompanied him.”

“During the home invasion, Kimberly Cates, 42, was killed, and her daughter was severely injured.”

Prosecution asked the medical examiner if the mother was alive during the attack and he said yes. Meaning she didn’t die upon being bludgeoned, she bled to death.

Spader has a penchant for the “pen” too. He has sent letters to fellow inmates which he calls “bedtime stories” describing the crimes in detail. He has also written songs in rhyme describing his brutal acts.

This young man is obviously an evil person who has no value for human life or remorse for his crimes. He views his crimes like a trip to a theme park, one amusing afternoon.

It is unfortunate that civilized humans must live amongst predators. But there has always been, is, and always will be human predators around us.

Many will recall the horrible home invasion that occurred in Connecticut when the Doctor lost his wife and two daughters. The first of two home invaders in that case was prosecuted and is awaiting sentence.

The chance of something like this happening is very small. But there is a chance. So you should make yourself a tougher target.

Here are 5 tips to help keep you safe and prevent a home invasion:
1. Never talk to strangers via an open or screen door. Always talk to them through a locked door.

2. NEVER let children open the doors. Always require and adult to do it.

3. Install a home burglar alarm 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.

4. Not all home invaders knock, some break in without warning.  Just another reason to have that alarm on.

5. 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 the Gordon Elliot Show. Disclosures

Cops Encourage Burglary Prevention

Let it be known and publicly stated right here and right now that I love law enforcement. Even though I’ve been pulled over for various vehicular infractions, but I’m not bitter. I’ve encountered officers of the law that may have taken themselves a bit too seriously, but I’ve meet plenty of flight attendants who fit the same profile. We are all just humans trying to get through this thing called life. It’s all good.

In Fort Wayne Indiana the local Police Department responded to a string of home burglaries that they are calling ‘crimes of opportunity’ and offer suggestions on how homeowners can prevent themselves from becoming victims of such crimes.

Some of the burglaries occur while people are sleeping in their homes.  They burglars were reported coming in through unsecured doors and windows. I don’t know where you live but in many parts of the country people don’t lock their doors because they don’t want to be “paranoid” I don’t know how lock your door can make you mentally ill. Maybe they know something I don’t.

One of the cops was quoted saying “Because they, (the homeowner), made it easier on the suspect or suspects to get into their home, it became a crime of opportunity. Whereas maybe those homes that were more secure, the suspect may have even gone to those homes and didn’t choose them because they were more secure, presenting more risk to him or her.” This is why I love law enforcement. Because of officials t like this guy who speak in common sense.

Be in charge of your home security:

  • Keep doors locked day and night and every time you leave your home.
  • Use wide-angle peepholes
  • Make sure glass is reinforced so they cannot be shattered.
  • Doors from attached garages must be solid and locked
  • Lock the overhead garage door – do not just rely on an automatic door opener.
  • Sliding glass doors should have strong locks.
  • Never leave a message on your voicemail or social media that indicates you are away.
  • Trim all shrubbery near doors and windows.
  • Use timed interior lights and outdoor timed or motion lights
  • Never leave a garage door opener inside your vehicle.
  • Install security cameras that can be remotely monitored.
  • Install a home alarm system monitored by an alarm company and the police.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.