Child’s Honesty nabs Robbers

A four-year-old girl witnessed two young men break into her home to commit a robbery. You’d think this would cause some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, or at least at a minimum, nightmares.

3BBut it looks like instead, Abby Dean of Washington, WI, will have dreams of flying around with a cape and rescuing people. That’s because her accurate description led to a confession by the thieves.

She was with her 17-year-old babysitter when it happened. The men told the girls to leave so that they could steal valuables. And they took off with computer devices and a small amount of cash.

The teenager told police that the burglars were black, and that one resembled the next-door neighbor. The cops took the neighbor away for questioning.

But Abby insisted that the crooks were white. Soon, the babysitter’s story wasn’t adding up very well. Eventually, the teen confessed that the robbers were her teen boyfriend and his buddy. The trio had plotted the crime. The stolen goods were returned. Abby stated, “They got it back because of me being the superhero.”

How do you prevent a crime like this?

  • You can’t beat security cameras. A surveillance system can alert a homeowner with a text or phone call, plus set off additional lighting or loud noises—not to mention provide a visual of the intruder.
  • Don’t worry about cost. The system will add value to your house. Furthermore, your homeowner’s insurance might give a discount if you have a solid security system.
  • Some surveillance systems allow the homeowner to watch what’s going on in real time; Dropcam is such a system.
  • The mere sight of a camera is a proven deterrent to burglaries and home invasions.

But suppose someone breaks in while you’re home and doesn’t care that cameras are on him. This is video evidence that will be extremely valuable in court.

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

2 Million Homes Are Burgled Every Year

The FBI says a home is burgled every 15 seconds. Police only catch one out of 10 burglars. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, show U.S. households experience about 16 million property crimes annually. Burglaries result in over $4.5 billion in losses annually resulting in over $2000 in losses to the victims. The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, determined property crime averages above 75 percent of all crime. And despite 2 million homes being burgled every year the Justice Department says that burglaries have declined over the past 30 years.

One reason is due to as many as 1 million private officers and security guards who work in residential areas patrolling and providing access control at community entrances. But that’s not all.

What have also reduced burglaries are home security alarms. Studies show as many as 25% of all American homes are equipped with a home security system. Additional security measures such as home security cameras are far less expensive and easier to install, wireless alarm systems and window film that makes it difficult to break glass.

Today’s door locks are better than ever too. Certainly a person can buy and install budget locks, but they can be easily picked or compromised with a ‘bump key.” Spending a few bucks more means much better locks. The most important aspect of a good lock is LOCKING it!

However most burglars don’t care if you have an alarm or expensive locks, because they break into the homes that don’t have alarms or they just jiggle the door knob and hope it’s unlocked.

Many homeowners admit that they don’t use their home security systems to the full extent because they are inconvenient or “scary” to use.  When choosing a home security system, be sure to choose something that can be armed and disarmed easily by all family members.

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

Reality Actor Jailed Six Months For Burglarizing Orlando Bloom’s Home

Orlando Bloom’s break-in is one of several robberies linked to Hollywood’s “Bling Ring,” teenage gang of celebrity-obsessed wannabes who allegedly stole from Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Megan Fox and others.

Their methods were simple. They tracked their victims by using social media, Facebook and Twitter. They knew when they were home and when they were away. They even used Google Earth to scope out their homes.

Police estimated that from October 2008 to August 2009, the “Bling Ring” stole more than $3 million in jewelry and high-end designer brands.

A star of the E! show “Pretty Wild” about growing up in the fast lane, the young woman was caught on security tape as she broke into Bloom’s house last summer with two other hooded females. “The women ransacked the house and made off with more than $500,000 in watches, cash and other booty, authorities said. Bloom collects rare watches, and his prized Rolex Milgauss from the 1950s is worth $250,000 alone, according to a Manhattan-based watch dealer.”

It’s painfully obvious that the victims in these crimes didn’t do enough to protect themselves. Some locked their doors and others didn’t. Some had security cameras and others didn’t. But NONE had a home alarm system that activated when the home was broken into. A home alarm system would have prevented most of these crimes.

Bloom had security cameras and my guess is he has an alarm but chose not to set it. I can’t imagine having a net-worth like he does and not have sufficient security. My insurance company requires me to have a monitored alarm system along with a safe in order to protect certain insured items. Without these systems in place, a homeowner may never recover their losses.


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

12-Year-Old Girl Home When Man Tries To Break In

Is it OK if I call this criminal a boob? Because he’s a dopey boob who used a pink Huffy as a getaway vehicle. And his victim, well, she’s a ROCK STAR! Read on... A 20 year old burglar breaks into a home. Twelve year old girl is home alone. I don’t know why, I think that’s illegal in some states. But she’s home alone and at least the alarm is on. Which turns out to be a very good thing.

Using a brick, burglar breaks the glass on the front door and reaches through to unlock the door. Girl sees a green latex glove coming through the window. Smart little rock star that she is; she hits the panic button on the home’s alarm system, and the thief ran off.

“When police arrived, they found two witnesses – one who saw a man enter the back yard of the residence, and one who saw him leave. Both provided the same description. About a block away, police saw a man matching the description riding a pink Huffy youth bicycle, and they stopped him.

According to police, the boob had several different stories about where he was going and where he had been. Police patted him down and found a screwdriver and green latex gloves, which matched with what the girl saw when the suspect’s hand came through the front door.”

First, never leave a 12 year old home alone. Maybe a 12 year old is perfectly capable, but still, that doesn’t work for me. If it’s legal in your state to have a 12 year old home alone, then at least discuss home security tips, which in this case it seems they did. She did well by hitting that panic alarm.

At least install home security cameras as another layer of protection with signage outside. Do you think this house had a sign outside that denoted the house was alarmed? If it did I bet the guy would not have broken in.

The door on this house facilitated the break in. Windows on doors aren’t secure. I prefer solid core doors. If you are going to have a window on a door, it should be very small and be at the very top of the door so the burglar can’t break it and reach in to unlock the door.

Finally, I love the fact that the neighbors saw him. This must be a neighborhood with a successful neighborhood watch program.

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

4 Month Old Baby and Parents Rob Homes

When someone breaks into a home, their primary motivation is generally money. In the case of parents bringing their 4 month old along for the heist, its probably for money to support a drug habit. These burglars obviously have issues.

279 years ago I dated a girl who worked at a bank. She developed herself a little coke problem. Her coke problem turned into a theft from the bank problem to support her habit. Drugs drive people to do awful things. Eventually this girl was found out, faced some consequences, got into a few 12 step programs and today’s she’s very successful and a mother of 3.  So the subjects in this story aren’t horrible, they’re actually sick. Addiction is an extremely difficult disease to cope with for everyone involved.

A couple accused of going on a home break-in spree last week have been charged with child abuse for allegedly bringing along a 4-month old child. Deputies said the suspects ages 28, 23 and 25, were arrested after a citizen spotted them leaving the scene of one of the crimes, followed the vehicle and called 911 to assist deputies in locating the vehicle.”

Desperate people do desperate things. And when someone is under the influence of a narcotic or desperate to get some, they will say and do anything. Often these crimes can lead to violence. If you think “it can’t happen to me” then you are delusional. Burglary happens all day every day in the “most secure” communities because people have “issues” and the victims don’t lock their doors and don’t invest in their home security.

Take responsibility for your home security. Install a home security system complete with monitored alarm and home surveillance cameras. Have the cameras monitor motion connected to a DVR. Set the alarm while you are home during the day, sleeping and when you are gone.

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

Burglar Hits County Sheriff’s Home

In these posts I often point out what people do wrong and reverse engineer the scenario so we can learn from 20/20 hindsight what to do right next time. I’m happy to say, this post is about what was done right the first time.

There are many reasons why homes are broken into. Money is generally the primary motivation. Sometimes kids may be looking for a place to party or someone may be seeking out drugs or alcohol. But when someone breaks into the Sheriffs home, one has to wonder why.

Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen is used to investigating break-ins, but this time it was his own home. The sheriff is offering a $1,000 reward from his own pocket for information leading to an arrest. Nothing was taken in the break-in on Sunday at the sheriff’s home on Wacker Drive, which makes the incident even more mysterious, Phalen said. “I would almost feel better if something had been taken,” he said. The burglar came between 5 and 6 p.m., while Phalen and his wife were out for a walk. Phalen said that the alarm system triggered and the burglar apparently tried to disable it. The alarm was beeping when Phalen and his wife returned.

The motivation here may simply be for money, but if they knew it was the Sheriffs house, then more than likely someone was after information or they simply wanted to have bragging rights to say “I broke into the Sheriffs house.

What pleases me about this story is the home security alarm that was triggered in the break in. Any one who reads this will see that the Sheriff, knowing that crime happens when someone least expects it, locked his doors and set his home alarm system while he and his wife were out for a quick walk.

Even though he was only gone for a short time he took full responsibility for his families security and enabled the home security system. One thing missing is why wasn’t their any data about the alarm being monitored by a service and a call made to the “Sheriffs Department.” Seems there is a lesson to be learned here.

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

10 Personal Safety and Security Tips

Fundamentals: Body language is 55% of communications. That’s your walk, posture, facial expressions and eye contact. Awareness is being alert to your surroundings at all times. Intuition is when the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Voice tone and pitch equal 35% of communications. The way a person communicates physically and verbally can determine whether or not a predator deems you a good target.

Prevent Abductions: When returning to a parked car, scan the area around your car, be alert to suspicious activity. Be aware of vans. Abductors and rapist open up the side doors and pull in their victims.

Never Use Your Keys As A Weapon: Contrary to popular belief your keys are not a good weapon. Using your keys as a weapon can injure your hand, the keys can break, you lose your “key to safety”, and you lose access to your car and home which are safe havens. Unless it’s a LARGE key. Then it’s a good weapon.

Prevent Home Invasions: You tell your children not to talk to strangers, so why do you open the door to a total stranger? Home-invaders pose as delivery people, public workers, or people in distress. Install peepholes, talk through the door. Under no circumstances do you open the door unless you get phone numbers to call their superiors. If someone is in distress tell him or her you will call the police for them. Install security cameras and a home security system.

Safety On The Streets: One dollar bills and change in an easily accessible pocket. Then if someone tries to rob you, you can throw the “chump change” several feet away. The robber will draw his attention to it giving you time to escape. Do not fight over material items.

What To Do If Attacked: Fighting, running and screaming are all options. Remember: You are worth fighting for!

Safety In Your Car: In the event of a minor accident, stop only in a well-lit area. Carjackers often provoke such “accidents” just to get a victim to stop. DO NOT stop on a deserted, dark street. Drive to a police station or a gas station. Use a cell phone and call 911.

Home Safe Home: Consider a second line or a cell phone in your bedroom. That’s because burglars often remove a telephone from the receiver when they enter a home. Of course, an alarm system activated while you are sleeping will prevent a home burglar from getting this far. Newer home alarms have cellular options, a safeguard even if the phone lines are cut.

Vacation/Business Traveler Safety: Be suspicious of a call from the hotel desk just after checking in requesting verification of your credit card number “because the imprint was unreadable.” A thief may have watched you enter the hotel room and called from the guest phone in the lobby. Never open your hotel room to anyone.

Telephone Security: Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call. Do not click on links in text messages asking you to update banking information. Set your mobile to require password access in case it’s lost or stolen.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.

Beware of Door to Door Conmen

There are bazillion scammers using a bazillion ruses to get your money. The lowest of the low are the ones who scam the elderly. These same conmen often do it door to door and can be very dangerous.

Con men posing as city employees seem to be the most effective scam. In one incident 2 men posed as city workers who were trimming trees in a neighborhood. One man would knock on the door and schmooze the resident into allowing him into the home. He would then coax the person into the back area of the home while his partner would sneak in the front door.

Once the second man was in he’d rob the person. Often they’d head straight for the bedroom and grab jewelry boxes and look for wallets and pocketbooks.

In another scam a man would go door to door and offer his labor for gardening and yard work for elderly. He would do the job he was hired to do at an agreed fee. But when the job was over he would request a significant amount of money that wasn’t previously discussed. In this case he would escalate the situation to yelling and threats.

He was so bold he would drive the person to an ATM machine to get the money.

In both of these situations the home owners were lucky the situations didn’t escalate to physical violence. It’s unfortunate that elderly are preyed upon in this way. If you have an elderly parent or neighbor, keep a close eye on them and watch out for them. Unfortunately with some people you can tell them to be careful and not open the door to strangers until you are blue in the face and they may not listen.

If you have an elderly person you care for and they live away from you I’d recommend installing a video security system in their home. Today’s surveillance systems can be remotely monitored from any PC in the world. I’m able to monitor mine from my iPhone. You can set an alarm on individual cameras to alert you to activity.

Consider a home alarm system too. Make it real easy for them to activate and deactivate using a remote control. Have the alarm company call them first, the police second and you third when an alarm goes off.

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

Identity Theft Ring Pickpockets Caught by Feds

Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano

If there were a “criminal hall of fame,” with an award bestowed on the “coolest” criminal, it would have to be a pickpocket. Pickpockets are sneaky, devilish creatures who function exactly one degree below the radar.

Pickpockets whisper through society, undetected and undeterred. They are subtle and brazen at the same time. They are  like a bed bugs, crawling on you and injecting a numbing venom that prevents you from detecting their bite until it’s much to late. They aren’t violent like a drug crazed mugger or confrontational like a stick up robber. They have much more gumption than any criminal hacker because they don’t hide under the anonymity of the Internet.

One second is all a pickpocket needs. A brief diversion, a quick move, and before you can take a breath, your wallet is gone.

Pickpocketing is one of the oldest criminal professions, and is still very prevalent in Europe. Their target? Clueless Americans. Americans just aren’t as aware of pickpockets, since it isn’t as prevalent here.

One victim’s story: “My wife and I were at a Paris Metro station where the loudspeakers were blaring, ‘WARNING. THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS PRESENT AT THIS STATION.’ We got on the crowded subway. A woman stayed half on and half off, blocking the door. At the same time, another woman was bumping against me, indicating that she needed to get off. She got past me and she and her friend exited the train, allowing the door to close. As she did, I realized that my cash (about $120) was gone from my pocket. As we pulled away, I watched the two women at the station, smiling and waving at me.”

Pickpockets’ greatest advantage is the fact that most people don’t believe it can happen to them. Including me.

Years ago, I met this cat named Gene Turner at a convention. A great guy who has the skills of a real pickpocket, but uses his abilities to inform, educate and entertain people. I told him to get Pickpocket.com, which he did. I should get a slice of that action! Real nice guy, very personable. He introduced himself to me by – without me knowing – taking my watch off my left wrist. Then asked me what time it was. I looked at my left wrist, no watch. He pointed to my right arm, where he re-fastened it. Freaked me out.

Gene says, “Personally, I get ‘caught’ maybe once out of a thousand times when I’m lifting a watch. And usually it’s either a really difficult watch or I’m taking it from the same person for the third or fourth time. I have always said a good pickpocket could pick me clean and I would never feel it. Even the best multi-tasker can be distracted, and it only takes a split second of distraction to become a victim. I have lifted watches from and put watches on many magicians, security people and yes, even other pickpockets, without their knowledge.”

Wired reports that pickpockets have upped the ante: “Feds Swoop In on Nationwide Pickpocket, I.D. Theft Ring.” The suspects, using a novel and high-tech strategy, allegedly stole the identities and bank account information from victims nationwide through pickpocketing and other means. The ring allegedly traveled around the country to crowded events, targeting sports fans in particular. Often, they worked in teams, in which one person distracts the victim and the other lifts the victim’s wallet.

How to protect yourself:

1. Be wary of someone yelling, “There’s a pickpocket in the crowd.”

Gene says, “I use this ploy a lot in my show. When people find out that I can pick pockets, the men check for their wallets and the women will check for their jewelry in the order of value – most expensive first. Their actions clue me as to exactly where the wallets and valuable jewelry are located.”

A man in a business suit has four pants pockets and six to eight pockets in the jacket. His wallet, cash and credit cards could be in any one of ten or more pockets. Pickpockets don’t usually have time to search all ten, but if they see you check your pocket when you read the sign, they now know the exact location. If you think there are pickpockets around or you see a sign, don’t be obvious about checking for your wallet or valuables.

2. Don’t display money or valuables in public.

Flashing your money will get you more attention than you want. Pickpockets will notice where you stash the cash and one bump later, you’ll be left with an empty pocket.

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

Especially in crowded places, bumps, commotions, and aggressive people are the typical distractions pickpockets use. Sometimes a person will fall down, drop something or appear to be ill, and we rush in to help. That’s great and I recommend it, but it may be a diversion. If you’re helping a stranger, make sure someone you trust is watching your valuables. Sidewalks, malls, bus terminals, airports, train stations, in any type of crowd it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings. Pickpockets are counting on you paying attention to everything except for your wallet or purse.

4. Don’t carry valuables in a backpack or fanny pack.

Anyone can reach into a backpack without you seeing or feeling. Fanny packs, if worn, should only be worn in front. Keep in mind that that won’t prevent a thief from undoing it or slashing the belt and getting away with it. If you do wear a fanny pack, make sure the buckle is near the pouch in front, so a pickpocket would have a more difficult time getting to the latch without your knowledge. It is not uncommon for a pickpocket to use a razor blade to slice through a bag and reach in.

5. Thin out your wallet.

Ultimately, they may still get your wallet. And when they do, you need to be prepared to respond to the fallout. The best protection is to not carry anything of value. There is no need to carry documents containing Social Security numbers, passwords, account numbers, birth certificates or anything that could lead to new account fraud. I carry a drivers license, credit card and a Costco card. Think of it this way: if your wallet were lost or stolen, would you feel like throwing up? If so, you have too much stuff in there.

6. Make copies.

For those of you that have to carry lots of stuff for various reasons, please make a photocopy, front and back, of every document in your wallet. Keep those photocopies in a secure place. If your wallet goes missing, you will have everything you need to close the existing cards and get new ones. Plus, it doesn’t hurt as much when you can see a copy of the missing cards.

7. Use anti-check washing pens.

Wallets often contain checkbooks. Check fraud is a billion dollar problem. Check washing occurs when criminals use nail polish remover to scrub out the payee and dollar amount, and rewrite checks to themselves for increased  amounts. With a uni-ball anti-check washing gel pen, you can prevent your checks from being washed.

8. Protect your identity
Invest in intelius identity theft protection and prevention services. Even if your wallet is squeaky clean, your data may be found in your banks dumpster or be hacked. Which is why you also must protect your computer by having the latest McAfee anti-virus and spyware protection.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing identity theft ring busted