Police Officer’s Home Burglarized; Learn How Not to Become a Victim Too

Nobody is immune to burglaries. I’ve seen celebrities, priests, politicians and even police officers become victims of burglary. reports that two people were arrested and charged in the burglary of a central Iowa police officer’s home in which the officer’s gun was stolen.

Not at all cool. Not cool because the cop is just like us and doesn’t deserve his home broken into. Not cool because his gun was stolen and could be used by the whack-job burglar to kill someone. And not cool, frankly, because he is an officer of the law and really should, at a minimum, have a home security system protecting his home and a safe protecting that gun.

Meanwhile, police in Seattle and the West Seattle Herald provided some insight into how burglars operate: “The general profile of our burglars are juveniles in groups of two to three (there are, of course, adults as well), often times [breaking into homes] while people are at work and kids are at school. The modus operandi is to have one person knock on the door (while in communication with the others, usually by cell phone). Meanwhile, the other two are working their way into the backyard where they will break into a window or door once the coast is known to be clear. Once inside, they generally focus on high-end electronics (Apple products are a favorite), gold and silver jewelry, cash and guns.”

Don’t want to end up in the paper? Memorize these prevention tips:

  • Stay safe at home: If someone’s breaking in while you are home, yell out, “Hey, what are you doing!” or “Honey, can you get that?” to make it clear someone (or more than one) is home. Leave, or get to a safe, locked room and call 911.
  • Watch your perimeter: Keep your yard and home easily visible to neighbors so they can see mischievous burglar behavior.
  • Home alarms: Home alarm systems and posted signs letting everyone know they are in place can also act as a deterrent.
  • Summertime security: Don’t leave windows slightly ajar to keep the house cool when you are gone.
  • Neighborhood watch: Start up a block watch with your neighbors. This means folks watching out for folks and their property—and for people on the block who don’t belong.

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

Drug-addicted Teen Burglar Sentenced to Prison

Burglars aren’t the people you see in the movies driving expensive cars, living lavish lifestyles and vacationing in the Caribbean. Burglars are usually addicted to drugs, unemployed because of their habit, and have sucked the lives and savings out of their families and so must turn to crime to get their fix.

You’ve heard “desperate people do desperate things,” and that statement can be directly equated to the mindset of a drug addict. People under the influence are sick and irrational and will stop at nothing to get what they need. Often, their illness has such a grip on them that in their minds, scenarios that actually result in violence leading to murder begin to seem normal. To them, it makes perfect sense that such things are what they need to do to get high.

People often ask, “Why?” “Why would anyone do that?” Because drugs have such a grip on them that the ability to make sound, rational decisions is no longer a part of their psyche.

It’s even worse when a teenager is the addict and perpetrator. At a young age, his reality isn’t quite developed. Leo Ray and his wife were victims of an invasion at their Idaho home. Ray told the Times-News in an interview that he answered the door at about 6 a.m. the day of the robbery to three guns in his face, then two men held guns to his head while another—whom he later identified as a 16-year-old boy—stood across the room with a rope and another gun. The men tied up the Rays and ransacked their home, stealing guns, computers and other valuables.

The prosecutor stated, “The teen has had significant substance abuse treatment and significant opportunities for counseling in the juvenile justice system.” But he obviously was beyond repair.

Bad, sick, dysfunctional people are everywhere. This doesn’t mean you should hide under your bed and worry; it means you need to keep your head up, be aware, know your options, live your life and invest in your personal and home security.

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

Home Invasion Victims Fight Back

The term self-defense in general means fighting back; by definition, it means “defending oneself.” However, I’ve always preferred the never-used term self-offense, which in my mind means attacking the attacker before he has a chance to attack you.

Anyway, two recent home invasion stories demonstrate a little self-defense and self-offense as the “victims” become victorious by taking control over the situations.

As SFGate reports in its article, “Home invasion victim holds suspect at gunpoint,” “Authorities in south Alabama say the victim of a home invasion robbery held a suspect at gunpoint until sheriff’s deputies arrived.”

Apparently this 20-year-old kicked in the front door and the homeowner’s dog went after him as the homeowner got out his shotgun! Love that! A shotgun and a dog! (It would have been even better if the owner had a home security system that blared when the door was kicked in.)

Australia’s Herald Sun reports in its piece, “Home invader stabbed as victim fights back,” that police were called to a house after reports that three men armed with knives had assaulted the victim and stolen jewelry and a mobile phone. The resident allegedly fought back, stabbing one of the home invaders in the torso.

There are proactive ways to prevent a home invasion such as these.

#1 Have a home security system installed and turned on while you are home.

#2 Install signage such as “Home Alarmed” or “Beware of Dog.”

#3 Install solid-core doors and strong locks.

#4 Install door reinforcement technology to make the door harder to kick in.

#5 Never open the door for strangers.

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

Unknown Credit Card Charges: Fraud or Legit?

Recently, my mother-in-law discovered that a pretty significant piece of jewelry had gone missing. There had been a number of construction workers in the house for a few weeks and when she went to get her jewelry, it was gone. After searching like a crazy person under/in/on top of everything, she called the police.

When the police arrived they asked a bunch of questions, did an onsite investigation and calmly and collectively stated to her: “You misplaced it. It probably hasn’t been stolen. You will find it in a few days.”

Visibly upset and a little teary eyed, she thanked the officer for his time and collapsed in her chair. Two days later, as she was folding laundry, there it was, nestled with her undergarments. She swears to this day she didn’t put it there, but it must have fallen into the drawer from the top of the dresser on a day she was putting laundry away.

Frankly, minus the calling the police, I’ve done the exact same thing.

When charges are made to our credit cards, it’s very easy to look at a charge, not be familiar with it and immediately suspect fraud. Each month, I reconcile my statements at least twice—first weekly when current charges are made and then when my final statement comes in. And without fail, there is at least one charge that gets me all in a tizzy and requires me to do my own investigation.

When you come across one of those questionable charges (and you will), don’t panic until you take these steps.

#1: Look up the name of the company online. Generally you will find something that will immediately trigger your memory as to what you bought and from whom.

#2: Check your receipts against the dollar amount charged and also look for the company name.

#3: Some merchants include a phone number as part of their merchant information on the receipt. Call the number and be cordial to the person on the phone.

#4: If all else fails, call your credit card company and dispute the charge. You will have to give up some basic information,but the credit card company will get to the bottom of it within two billing cycles.

#5: Sign up for BillGuard for free. BillGuard monitors your credit card charges and alerts you to any potential fraud. If there are any grey charges, BillGuard will flag them and let you know.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & advisor to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Community Comes Together to Fight Burglary

In Rochester New York they are being “plagued” by burglaries which rose by over 13 percent in the last year. As a result they organized a Burglary Prevention Clinic to teach homeowners how to better secure their homes.

WHEC reports one of the residents was quoted saying “It’s so easy to forget that maybe I didn’t lock my window, or I didn’t secure my door, or my lock is a little loose.”

This particular event had more than the standard Neighborhood Watch attendees. In attendance was law enforcement, security professionals, locksmiths, politicians, insurance agents and community members all sharing their experience and best practices to keep safe.

They discussed a number of security issues, people voiced their concerns but one politicians stated very poignantly “I would say the most important thing is that there’s a lot that we can do to protect each other, so communication with your neighbors, and relationship with your neighbors goes a long way.”

Use solid steel or solid wood doors.

Trim shrubs to eliminate hiding spots.

Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood.

Start a neighborhood watch and get to know your neighbors.

Inform a few trusted neighbors of any travel plans to assist in the collection of newspapers and mail.

Install a home security system monitored by law enforcement and consider security cameras too.

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

Burglar Hits 60 Houses in 60 Days

Police in Morristown NJ have a prime suspect in mind which they call an “opportunist”. Sometimes the burglar breaks in by using a crowbar or breaking a window but mostly he just goes in through an unlocked door or window.

He’s going after the standard gold jewelry and laptops, stuff that’s easy to fence.

But what makes this story so interesting is the police know who he is but can’t arrest him.  The police Chief was quoted saying “This is a person who knows video surveillance very well and knows technology very well, and he does this for a living and he doesn’t want to get caught.”

The neighbors were quoted as saying stuff like “we never see a police car around” etc and the police respond by saying “the government can’t do everything anymore, the chief said. “We simply need more help from the communities we serve. Most of it is eyes and ears, and picking up the phone.”

The Chief suggested everyone pay attention and even start a neighborhood watch.

Readers of these posts know I’m all about taking personal responsibility. And while law enforcements role is to serve and protect, it is impossible to have a police car parked in every driveway. The fact that this neighborhood doesn’t even have a neighborhood watch in place is telling. These are people who simply aren’t proactive. Windows and doors are unlocked, and it seems residents don’t have home security alarms either.

But I’ll be they are installing them now.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News Live. Disclosures


Bump Keys Are Today’s Skeleton Keys

Locking your doors is a first step to securing your home.

However after conducting thousands of seminars on personal security I’m amazed at how many people do not lock their doors. That one simple act can prevent a door jiggling burglar from choosing your home. However if you do lock your doors, the quality of your locks can impact your security.

Lock bumping as its known is a lock picking method that involves inserting a modified key similar to the original and lightly bumping or hitting the key with a hammer or other blunt instrument. As the key is bumped the knob is gently twisted back and forth allowing the locks tumblers to fall in place. Carefully crafting a bump key and manipulating the knob allows the modified key to unlock the door.

Locks are made up of a series of pins and springs that when properly lined up allow the fitted key to turn, thus opening the lock. Bump keys are designed to trick the pins and springs by designing the bump key to accommodate the pins and keys in a variety of ways that ultimately come together by force or through bumping and turning.

Locks manufactured utilizing “programmable side bars” and do not utilize “top pins” are considered bump proof.  Other locks that are electronic, magnetic, disc tumbler or use rotating disks are generally considered bump proof.  This is general advice that should be followed up by enlisting a certified locksmith to guide you in a safe and secure direction.

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

What It’s Like To Have Your Home Robbed

Recently, I worked with a Fox News reporter in Boston on a story about home burglaries and home security systems. The victim in our story states “I see the big smashed in window, glass everywhere,” says David Barstow of Methuen.

While his family was gone for only a couple of hours, a group of teens ransacked and burglarized his home. “It’s that sick feeling in your stomach,” he said. “What if my wife and daughter ever walked in here and they were still here?”

There is a feeling of overwhelm and “what if” that comes from any intrusion such as this. Unfortunately, these feelings sometimes never go away.

David went onto say “Instead of closing your blinds and saying thank God it wasn’t me, it’s going to be you next,” says David “who managed to catch the guys who broke into his house when the crooks returned to his neighborhood to grab some of the loot they left behind. Home security at this house has become a top priority.”

Home security should be a top priority in your home too. I know David’s home security system was installed after his family’s home was burgled. Studies show many people install a system after something bad happens.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Security is about being proactive. Not reactive. Be proactive.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse™   on Fox News.

Honesdale PA State Police Issue Burglary Prevention Tips

The WayneIndependent reports that due to a higher degree of burglaries that citizens should be proactive and protect their properties.

Here is an abridged version of their safety tips with my spin:

Walking in on a burglary?

DO NOT ENTER — a trapped burglar is dangerous. DON’T try to capture him yourself.

Call the police immediately. Always protect the scene — vital evidence may be destroyed needlessly.

If the burglar is caught, testify against him.


Lock your windows and restrict the opening to a maximum of four inches. Make sure your basement windows are outfitted so entry through them is prevented.

Equip your exterior doors with good locks. If you don’t have a solid core door install a double-cylinder, dead-bolt lock which requires a key both inside and out. Make sure this is allowed by fire officials.

DON’T leave door keys in mail chutes, under doormats or on top of door frames

While gone for and extended time

Stop deliveries and have a dependable neighbor clear your porch of all items.

Arrange to have your immediate neighbor watch your house while you are away. Leave a key with them and a telephone number where you can be reached in an emergency.


Keep your garage locked. Remove the keys from your garaged automobiles. Close your garage door each time you leave, even though you may be gone for only a short time.

Consider unplugging the electric opener.


Install approved, automatic timers. These can be set to turn on a light in your home at a time when are expected to be on. It will also turn off the light at your normal retirement hour.

A constant light in a room which cannot be looked into from the outside, such as a bathroom, is a good idea.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse™ on Fox News.

Top 5 Home Burglary Prevention Reminders

Imagine coming home seeing your side door open and some of your stuff on the ground. You wonder what’s happening and think maybe your stupid irresponsible roommate dropped something. But as you look closer the door is smashed and inside the house looks disheveled. Then the sinking feeling of “I’ve been burglarized” sets in. That’s was me.

It was the early 90’s and I had bought my first home at 20 years old. It was a “3 decker” and me and a few friends lived on the first floor and I rented out the rest. It was more of a “frat house” than it was a home. We even gutted a refrigerator and had a keg on tap 24/7/365. Then one night we had a few people over, and they brought a few people we weren’t familiar with.

After an evening of being stupid we headed to bed. Next morning to work. After work reality set in. When I saw what happened, I immediately knew who did it. It was one of the friends of the friend that came to my flat the night before.

Being the “take things in my own hands” 20 years old I was, I went to this person’s house with the police and recovered my stuff. Right after that, I got a home security system.

#1 Secure entrance ways: Burglars often go right through your back or front door. They first ring the bell or knock on the door to see if you’re home, and if you don’t answer they jiggle the doorknob. Lock your doors. Sometimes if the door is locked they will use a crowbar to force it open. Install solid core doors that can’t easily be compromised. Install heavy deadbolts that go deep into the jam with 3-4 inch screws that go into the door’s frame. For sliding glass doors, install an additional wooden dowel preventing the door from being opened from the outside. Make sure your home security alarm has open door sensors.

#2 Windows: When a burglar encounters a locked door they may look for unlocked windows. Lock your windows. As an extra layer of security install a wooden dowel on top of the window to prevent it from being opened. Install window film that prevents the glass from being broken. Install glass break sensors to compliment your home security system.

#3 Lighting: Lighting on the exterior is an effective way to keep the bad guy away. The benefit of additional lighting helps your neighbors to see suspicious activity at night. Include timers on indoor light to give your home that lived in look.

#4 Home Security Systems: Most people install a home alarm after the home is burglarized. Don’t wait to be a victim of crime before you smarten up.

#5 Security cameras: Compliment your alarm with surveillance cameras. I didn’t get cameras until they were affordable. If I had got them years ago, it would have saved a lot of heartache. Today they are inexpensive and easy to install.

Oh, and what happened to the guy who broke into my house? He was arrested and was in and out of jail for the next 15 years. Last time I saw him was when he was on the front page of the Boston Globe because he had cut a woman’s head off.

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