What is an Alarm Duress Code?

Ever consider the idea that a home intruder may force you to turn off your home alarm? Ever think that there’s a way you could secretly signal this to the authorities when you turn off the alarm while your captor is watching?

3HThere is: the alarm duress code. This code is entered on the keypad, sending a silent signal to the monitoring station of the system provider. This does not disable the system. But to your captor, you’re simply obeying his command to disable the system. He may not even know there’s even a such thing as an alarm duress code, and thus won’t have a clue what you’re really doing.

Most ADT systems’ default duress code is 2580. Call your provider if you don’t have ADT to see if it has a duress code. If you don’t yet have a security system installed, inquire about this with the technician as well as the company.

Duress codes are effective. However, they also provide peace of mind for any homeowner.

The problem with default duress codes is that if a burglar/home invader knows it, he’ll know you are signaling distress. So find out if your system has a default duress code. The user’s manual usually won’t tell you; the technician’s manual usually has this information. If there’s a default code, immediately change it. Of course, if there’s none, take measures to get one.

Other Kinds of Duress Codes

A duress code need not be electronic. It can be by voice if you’re on the phone. Your captor actually may permit you to make a call (such as to get a PIN). Of course, you’ll already have your secret word or phrase confirmed with those you trust.

The code must not be obvious to the captor, but so well-confirmed that there’s no doubt you’re in trouble. For example, everyone knows you hate sushi: “I’m about to order sushi and I forgot my cash.”

Any duress code should be simple enough to always remember, but not “discoverable.” Make sure everyone has it memorized; it should never be written down anywhere.

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

False Alarms are costly

Unfortunately, cheaper, older security motion detectors can’t distinguish between a 150 pound man and a squirrel or even some papers blowing around. This causes police and firefighters to respond to false alarms. False alarms caused by the elements or animals are common (in the millions each year) and occur with business as well as residential systems.

3HOn average, a police officer uses 20-40 minutes to respond to an alarm. Multiply that out by millions of false alarms. This problem drains resources.

The Drain

In the U.S., 94-95 percent of police responses to burglar alarms are false. The cost comes to $30-$95 per incident–$1.8 billion total in the year 2000, says the Center for Competitive Government at Temple University. Some of this money goes towards preventing and remedying wear and tear on first responders’ vehicular equipment.

Wind, papers and animals aren’t the only problem; prank or ridiculous 9-1-1 calls also factor in, and so do carelessness, mistakes and even frightened but aggressive homeowners who mistake first responders for intruders.

Whopping Fines

The moment someone realizes an alarm was tripped accidentally, they should notify the police and their alarm company to cancel the response. Residents and business owners can be fined for false alarms—three and a row can cost over $300 in some areas. Fees vary by location; a first time violation may cost $50. Good hard fines will sink in deeper and motivate system owners to take measures to reduce false triggers.


  • A system that triggers a call to the homeowner or business owner’s mobile phone first. If there’s no answer it goes to the home phone. If there’s no answer it goes to the police.
  • Having a home security system with security cameras allows the homeowner to quickly check on the home via their mobile to see if there is an actual problem.
  • The alarm system should be thoroughly re-evaluated by the company to make sure that a glitch isn’t responsible for at least some of the false triggers.
  • Homeowners should determine if there is enough time when entering or exiting the home when alarms are often triggered.
  • Proactively plan when another person is entering the home such as guests, contractors, cleaners etc. Those “inexperienced” with your alarm are often the culprits.
  • Homeowners must ingrain into themselves the habit of checking to see if the alarm is on before opening the door to check the thermometer outside, retrieve the newspaper or let the dog out in the middle of the night.

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

18 Snagged In Home Invasion Ring

When a municipality has an organized ring of home invaders you know they have problems.

In Fresno Country California a special task force including officers from the sheriff’s department, SWAT teams, and local police agencies had to be created to conquer the growing problem of home invasions in their district. As you know a home invasion occurs when the home owner is at home, there is forcible entry, a weapon is often involved and violence and theft is on the invaders agenda.

In states like New Hampshire the “Live Free or Die” state they have actually passed laws making the crime of home invasion a consideration for the death penalty.

In a concentrated period of time, there were at least 6 home invasions carried out by this gang. They used a common ruse to gain entry by posing as census workers and in some cases as tree trimmers.

When they pose as tree trimmers it often involves the homeowner being taken into the back yard while the invaders go in through the front door and ransack the home. reports “And in one case they actually took a photograph of the child in the house.  (They) threatened if they did call police; they had a picture of the child, knew what they looked like, and would harm them.  Jewelry has yet to be recovered; the task force did help uncover $25,000 in cash, along with eight weapons ranging from pistols to one automatic shotgun that was also seized during the serving of dozens of search warrants”

Prevent home invasions:

Never talk to strangers via an open or screen door. Home-invaders pose as delivery people, law enforcement or public workers.

If someone is in distress tell him or her you will call the police for them. Don’t open the door for them.

Under no circumstances do you open the door unless you get phone numbers to call their superiors. Even if that means making them wait outside while you call 411.

One reason your house is chosen is someone tipped off the home-invader that you have valuables. You may have done it via social media or your friends or children or baby sitter might have unintentionally bragged. Loose lips sink ships!

Install a home alarm. Be proactive with the help of ADT Pulse™, a new interactive smart home solution that goes beyond traditional home security to provide a new level of control, accessibility and connection with the home.

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

Fake Cops Home Invasion — Respecting Vs. Trusting

We live in a society that has many rules. We need rules because without rule, we’d devolve into chaos. Those rules are often broken by those who believe they are above them or are simply so desperate that they need to break them to get their next fix.

Some of these rules are more “guidelines” than they are law. One rule that makes it difficult for us to see the truth sometimes is “respect authority”. Authority is generally granted to those in a trusted position and comes in many forms such as a teacher, coach, politician, priest and law enforcement.

Unfortunately, those given the responsibility of authority are human, and humans are flawed, and too often when put in a position of power and authority they abuse it or simply can’t’ handle it.

In the past 24 hours in the news, I’ve seen a teacher who fought a kid, a cop who lost his badge, a politician so full of himself he sent semi-clad pictures of himself to a woman not his wife, and a confession by clergy to stop abuse.

This brings me to my point:

Home invasion by three men dressed as cops: “The trio turned up at a house dressed as police officers and claiming to have a search warrant, all black clothing with bullet-proof vests, even pulled up to the home in a vehicle that had a red flashing light and a siren, police said. Once inside, they used plastic ties to handcuff the six occupants and locked them in a room in the basement, police said. The fake cops then ransacked the home in search of cash. Several hours later, when the bandits had fled, the victims managed to free themselves and set of a house alarm.”

It is important to respect the position of the title. Everyone deserves some respect until they don’t. But, to blindly trust the person behind the title/uniform/badge etc, can get you hurt.

To question authority is not to revolt, but to decide for yourself if they should be trusted. And if your home alarm is on all day while you are home as it should be, and someone knocks on the door for any reason, contact a supervisor to confirm the legitimacy of the visit.

Don’t just trust. Trust needs to be earned.

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

Burglars Burgle the House Then Burn It

Desperate people do desperate things. A home burglary is a desperate act. And when the burglar wants to absolutely, positively cover his tracks, he may torch the house.

It’s a troubling crime pattern and Syracuse Police are asking for the public’s help. In the past two weeks there have seven burglaries near the Syracuse University area. In two cases, after the homes were ransacked the burglar set them on fire. No one was inside the two homes at the time of the fires.

When a home is broken into the burglars almost always steal something. Sometimes they break in just to “party” or need a place to hang out or crash for the night. Other times it’s for vandalism and they generally do a pretty good job of destroying the property when they set their minds to it. With home invasions it’s often to torture the residents and make them miserable. This is certainly the worst case scenario for the homeowner.

But breaking in and burning it is probably the most destructive of all tactics. When a person’s home is entered without authorization, people generally feel a sense of violation they don’t easily get over. For a dozen reasons a person should make certain their home is as secure as possible. To prevent any of the above acts, one needs to invest in their home security.

Home security tips:

Timed and/or motion activated lights, inside and out. This burglar stated lights turned on made him nervous and he would go to a home that didn’t pose a threat of getting caught.

Trim bushes and shrubs. Anything covering doors and windows that give a burglar cover is an invitation to a thief. I also recommend defensive shrubbery with lots of thorns.

Encourage your neighbors to report any suspicious activity around your home while you are gone or even while you are home.

Install a home security system. It’s not enough to just lock your doors. A home alarm is an effective deterrent while you are away and while you are home. Even home alarm decals and signage is a layer of protection.

Dogs big and small. A dog need not be an attack dog to be an effective deterrent. Barking dogs bring attention to the home they are protecting.

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

Elderly Couple Assaulted During Home Invasion

Every day I scan the news for stories to report on. My job is to disseminate information in a way that is easily digestible and makes sense. Hopefully the reader will act on what they learn and make better decisions to protect themselves and their families.

It’s not easy to read stories every single day about horrible things happening to good people. The frustrating part is seeing the same awful crimes happening over and over and over again. I can write about “Elderly couple assaulted during home invasion” 20 times a day and each story will be worse than the next. If you are elderly or have elderly parents, please take heed:

The man’s wife, whom he’s been married to for almost six decades, lies in the hospital. The victim says the suspect broke a window in the bedroom and appeared in their living room around 10:30pm Sunday night as they watched television. “He grabbed me around the neck, and said he would cut my throat if I didn’t do what he said,” said the husband.


“He went through the drawers, getting jewelry and whatever else he saw he wanted,” said the husband. For four hours, the homeowner says the suspect tore through their belongings while they were forced to lie face down in their bedroom. “He was very comfortable with being in here.

Any time his wife made a noise showing her fear, the suspect came back to the bedroom. “She was making noise and he didn’t want her making noise, he would kick her hard.” The victim’s wife was transported to Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center due to brain swelling from being kicked by the suspect. Her husband tells us they will monitor her overnight and she may be able to go home on Tuesday.

Locking your doors isn’t enough. Locking your windows isn’t enough. In order to prevent a crime like this the homeowner needs a comprehensive home security review. Bring in the local police to give your home a once over. Invite a local locksmith to determine what the best locks for your doors are. Call a home alarm installer to discuss a home security system. Consider taking it up a notch and installing home security cameras. Consider a do it yourself wireless home alarm system or hire a professional. But please, whatever you do, do something. 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. Disclosures

Stalker Frames Victim Husband for Child Porn

OK, this is a weird title for this blog, but you gotta read this.

First, if there was ever a reason for you to invest in a home security system the below article is it.

A Crazy guy broke into the home of a woman who he was stalking. The woman is married, but apparently the guy didn’t care. When he broke into the home he logged onto the victim’s husband’s PC and downloaded child pornography.

Then he took the hard drive and sent it to the local police with a note to the police identifying the owner of the hard drive. The idea behind the scheme was to get his stalking victim husband arrested and give the impression that the victim’s husband was a child predator.

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a whacky guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After he sent the hard drive to the police he was quickly arrested. Fortunately, the cops saw through his ruse. After investigating the stalker they found pictures on his computer that indicated he had broke in the house numerous times and snapped photos of the husband’s calendar so he could break into the home whenever he pleased.

And you think you have problems?

Stalking is a whole thing that I will get into in another post. What immediately bugs me about this story is the fact there was NO home alarm, NO security cameras, and the stalker was easily able to enter and exit the home at will, which tells me they probably didn’t lock the home.

It’s 2010 people, and the crazies are out in full force. Don’t think it can happen to you?

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