Home Security begins at the Entrance

If you were to design the ultimate security system for a house, what would you focus on? These days, many people would immediately think in terms of the most technologically advanced alarm system—one that’s voice activated, detects motion anywhere, can be remotely controlled and allows remote viewing of the home, etc.

5HBut even in this day and age of connectedness, the best security system begins with the front door. That’s because, essentially, the door is potentially your home’s weakest link—no matter how high tech the alarm system is.

Contrary to TV and movie depictions—even TV commercials for security systems—of burglars always smashing through windows in the dark (makes a noisier, more dramatic effect), by far the No. 1 entrance for an intruder is the front door. And often, it’s kicked in.

That’s because typically, only two or four mite-sized screws are holding up one or two little strike plates, attached to a weak door frame of thin pine. If you only knew how easy it is to sever pine. 10 year old kids in karate classes do this with their bare hands.

What if your door included one-sixteenth inch of heavy steel? Try kicking through that. And what about a four foot bar that’s installed over the strike plates, screwed right into the door’s frame? Wow, you have one tough-ass security system for your door: The Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jamb Security Kit. It includes:

  • Three and a half inch heavy screws, which go into 2 x 4 studs located behind the door frame
  • Steel door jamb reinforcement (48 inches): replaces the small brass strike plate
  • Three inch screws for reinforcing the door hinges

In addition, there are other things you can do to make your door more impenetrable.

  • A door bar jammer or door brace: One end fits snuggly under the doorknob, while the other end is angled out and affixed to the floor.
  • Deadbolt wrap: This will reinforce the area around the door lock.
  • A better strike plate: Thicker means better.
  • Door frame reinforcement: This steel implement is up to four feet in length, and some versions are decorative.

Of course, all of these measures add up to zero protection if you leave your door unlocked. Many intruders gain entry through unlocked doors. It’s that simple. But don’t forget that even a very determined burglar tires out and does not want to be standing there all day trying to kick down a heavily reinforced door.

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

25 Home Security Tips

Yes, 25 tips, because that’s how we roll. No home security tip is too trite. They are all important, especially when used all at once, all the time.3B

  1. Keep shrubs and trees manicured so that burglars can’t hide near them.
  2. Do a door and lock inventory to make sure they all work.
  3. The only time a door should be unlocked is when someone is using it.
  4. The only time a window should be unlocked is when it’s open while you’re home, and even then, be extremely judicious about this, including for second-story windows that can be climbed up to.
  5. Make sure nobody can see inside your windows at night, and be choosy about which drapes to leave open during the day, especially if you have expensive items that can be viewed through windows.
  6. Have a smoke alarm and check it periodically; run fire drills for the entire family.
  7. When gone, leave a light on; better yet, use a timed lighting system. Also put the TV on.
  8. Have a carbon monoxide detector and check it periodically.
  9. Make sure your security alarm system properly works.
  10. Consider having a “secret” room, also known as a “panic” room built.
  11. Keep your phone by the bed. Mobile phone is best.
  12. Install motion detectors inside and outside.
  13. Install video surveillance and check it periodically.
  14. Never leave packages outside your door, sign up for delivery notices.
  15. Make sure that all windows have your security company’s decals stuck on them; place the company’s sign on your lawn.
  16. While traveling, have mail and newspaper delivery postponed or picked up by a friend.
  17. Never go inside your house if you think it’s been broken into while you were gone.
  18. Protect your windows with penetration-proof film.
  19. Use a peephole on all doors that can’t be reversed by an outsider.
  20. Don’t leave ladders outside unless you’re using them.
  21. Put Charlie bars on all the window tracks.
  22. When traveling for long stretches, arrange to have someone mow your lawn and park their car in your driveway.
  23. Get a beware of dog sign even if you don’t have a dog.
  24. Go to an Army/Navy store and get paid of men’s boots, put them near your front or back door.
  25. Get a big dog food bowl. Place it near your front door.

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

What kind of Home Security System is right for Me

Burglars don’t usually depend upon the light of the moon to break into homes; they depend on the daylight—because that’s when they know most homes are empty! The kids are in school, the adults are at jobs or shopping…duhhh, even a halfwit burglar knows this is an opportune time!

4HTherefore, you should get a home security system that’s designed to repel robbers in both the dead of day, not just night. This includes while you’re home. And when you are home, a burglary turns into a “home Invasion” which often turns deadly.

  • You may be sick in bed.
  • You may be home telecommuting.
  • Or maybe you have a weekday off.
  • Maybe you work a night shift and you’re home during the day.
  • Are your kids home by themselves after school?
  • Is Gramps there by himself?
  • Do you travel frequently?
  • Figure it all out and then investigate which home security system fits your lifestyle.

A home security system isn’t just the alarm that shrieks when someone tries to break in. It can be a pendant that Gramps wears in case he falls. It could be remote monitoring of your latchkey kids.

A representative from a reputable home security company can answer all of your questions, such as how to make access to the control panel easy for kids and the elderly, while remaining hard to find by an intruder.

You’ll probably learn a lot of what the most state-of-the-art system can do—things you wouldn’t necessarily know that a security system is capable of, such as a text message triggered by the system’s sensors—indicating that something anomalous is occurring at your house, such as a window being broken or a gas or water leak.

You’ll also learn how to be smart about your system, such as making windows exceedingly difficult for an intruder to get through, including those you’d think were too small to matter.

If you have a garage, that requires yet another layer of security. An intruder may get in via a window, then get into the garage from the internal door that connects it to the house. He opens the garage and begins loading his van which is parked in the driveway, whistling nonchalantly while neighbors don’t suspect a thing.

For optimizing your security options, you should consult with experts from well-known companies and read reviews from current customers to determine which options, features, benefits, bells and whistles are most appropriate for you.

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

Sheriff’s office offers Home Security Tips

Here’s good advice from a sheriff’s office about how to protect your house.

1SBurglars and home invaders don’t give a flying hoot if you keep thinking, “It can’t happen to me and this is a safe neighborhood.” In fact, the issue isn’t how safe your neighborhood is or how watchful your neighbors are. The issue is how easy it is to simply break into your home.

Think of the other safety precautions you take daily even though the odds of an unfortunate outcome are very small, such as making sure you take your vitamins, or making sure not to miss brushing your teeth before bedtime. Yet you leave your garage door open because you think your neighborhood is safe? What the…?!

Keep your garage door closed. A threat may not be imminent, but any passer-by may actually be a thief scouting around to see who has the goods, and he sees some real goodies in your garage; he’ll make a note of your address for a later crime.

Don’t leave boxes that contained expensive items sticking out of garbage cans. Did you know that burglars love to see what’s poking out of garbage cans? Trash cans are the windows to the soul of your house.

Religious thumpers. Savvier burglars will go door to door pretending to represent a religion—they may even have a bible on hand—but their goal is to feel you out. I’m not suggesting that you shout at them to get lost and slam the door so hard that it shakes the frame. But if you present as wishy washy and unable to say “No thank you,” this tells the burglar you’re easy prey.  It’s better to talk through the door opposed to opening it.

Petition supporters. The burglar may be pretending to sell something or collect signatures for some strange petition.

Product sales. Another scam is for the burglar to name a date and time they’ll be back to deliver a product if you show an interest in it. They’re hoping you’ll say, “I won’t be home then; can you stop by another time?” The crook will be sure to show up at the time you won’t be home—to rob you cold.

Alarm company employee. If someone’s at your door claiming to be from your alarm company (if you have one), or some alarm company (if you don’t), this IS a ruse to find out if you have an alarm system that works—even if he’s wearing an outfit with the company’s name. Alarm companies don’t send people out in the field for unsolicited visits to homeowners.

Secure all entrances. Don’t just layer up the security of your front door. What about a porch door in the back? What about windows to your basement?

Makes sure valuables are not visible through your first-floor windows. This is another way thieves case houses.

Before leaving for out of town, contact the local police and request a vacation patrol check of your house. Be sure to indicate whether or not anyone is expected to be there such as someone to mow the lawn.

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

Why install a Home Security System?

Question: No. 1 reason people get a home security system?

3HAnswer: Recently burglarized; The majority of the people I hear from who want to install a home security system were recently burglarized. It often takes adversity or even tragedy for us to wake up to the realities of a harsh world.

Of course, even for people who’ve never been victims of a robbery, prevention of a burglary or home invasion is a top reason people get home security systems.

Home burglary is a very common crime. But deterring burglars isn’t the only reason you may want to consider having a home security system installed. Today’s technology means that a home security system can do so much more than blast a piercing alarm if someone breaks into your house or flash lights if someone creeps up your driveway.

Remote monitoring; For example, a home security system that’s part of an application for your smartphone can enable you to observe the exterior and interior of your house remotely. You can see what the dog is doing, for example, while you’re away; does he bark nonstop?

You can observe your older kid babysitting the younger one; is he really the bully that the younger one claims he is?

Notifications; You can also be notified, while you’re away, that your kids have arrived home from school.

Remote controls; And with today’s options, you can control things in your house remotely, such as the thermostat and lighting.

Peace of mind; Having a home security system installed will give you peace of mind.

Additional layers of protection; The system should include accessories that are not part of the actual system or smartphone application, such as a film you can put on your windows that prevents penetration or breaking, and there are ways to reinforce your doorframe and jamb.

Insurance discount; Finally, most insurance companies will reward you for having a home security system, giving discounts up to 20 percent.

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

11 of the Biggest Home Security Mistakes

One type of mistake that you should never have to learn from involves home security. Don’t wait till something bad happens to you to learn a lesson. Here are the top mistakes that people make; learn about them here rather than from personal experience:BeOn

  1. Leaving doors unlocked. Yes, leave your door unlocked often enough overnight, and a burglar will find it. They’re all out there, working their third shift while you’re asleep, jiggling hundreds of door knobs to find that one unlocked door. Yours will be next. Be smart and lock up! This also includes during the day and when you’re gone.
  2. Penny pinching when it comes to locks. You get what you pay for. Don’t put a price tag on your home’s security.
  3. If you have a house alarm, use it. It should always be on. Don’t make the excuse that you’ll forget to turn it off when you want to step outside to see a rainbow.
  4. Keep the garage locked at all times.
  5. Don’t leave ladders out. Don’t say, “I’m too tired; I’ll put it away tomorrow.” A burglar is never too tired to climb a ladder to your second story window.
  6. Don’t hide keys near the door. Give the spare to a trusted neighbor.
  7. Leaving windows open. Okay, so maybe you don’t have a fly or moth problem, but guess what else will come in: thieves. Lock windows even if you’ll be gone for “just a few minutes.”
  8. Don’t post your vacation plans or adventures on Facebook, etc., until after you return.
  9. Don’t leave intact boxes, that expensive items like flat screen TVs came in, outside for trash pickup. Break them down and stuff in a trash bag.
  10. Make sure your valuables aren’t visible through windows.
  11. Keep your house looking occupied at all times while you’re away: Have a neighbor collect your newspapers and mail; used automatic timed lighting devices (including outside at night); leave a kid’s bicycle lying by the front door, etc. Another way to give it that “lived in look” is with the BeOn proactive smart lighting home security system. Check it out.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BeOn Home Security discussing burglar proofing your home on NECN. Disclosures.

Tips to Home Security Lighting

“Don’t be afraid of the dark” is a reassurance that burglars never need; they need to hear, “Be afraid of the lights.”

BeOnA house that’s often dark sends a flare to burglars that nobody’s home, or, at least, that nobody will see the burglar doing what he does best.

Most people know of the automatic timing devices that flip lights on when the house is empty. These devices also can turn on TVs, fooling prowlers into thinking someone’s inside. The programming for the times should be changed up, and so should the lighting implements used.

A second tool is the motion detector which flips on a light when it detects movement. A popular kind is the one over the garage that comes on when someone comes up the driveway. And a bright light that goes on at the front door can deter a burglar from trying to get in.

All areas of possible entry should have a light cast upon them at the detection of motion. This includes the windows underneath the deck in the back, window wells to the basement and any side doors. These lights should be out of reach of criminals.

Sometimes, a sociopath awaits in the dark for the homeowner to return home (after casing the place and learning the occupants’ habits). Imagine how easy the criminal’s job will be if no light turns on when the garage door is opened. He could have you around the throat in an instant. But if a bright light goes on as the door opens, this can repel him, or at least enable the occupant to see him and then prepare for defense.

A more advanced option is a sensor that flips on a light but also sounds an alarm at the detection of movement. Some devices can be set at a higher threshold so that cats, raccoons and other critters don’t set them off.

The latest advancement is a system that “figures out” the occupants’ light-use habits. The BeOn system duplicates this when you’re not home, making it seem that you’re inside and doing your usual living. BeOn has a Kickstarter campaign that anyone serious about home security should check out.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BeOn Home Security discussing burglar proofing your home on NECN. Disclosures.

The Futuristic secure and Smart automated Home is here

A burglary occurs every 15 seconds. The chance of your home being broken into is higher than you’d think. The good news is that today’s alarm systems are “not your father’s alarm.”

BeOnTwenty years ago, a contractor had to spend a week tearing up your walls ceilings, and windows to retrofit a messy, hardwired security system. These alarms were so expensive that they were mainly used by businesses and rich people.

Since then, home security systems have dropped in price. They are now mostly wireless, right down to the cellular phone signal. But what makes home alarms even more exciting is that the majority of the functions are intuitive and smart.

Here’s how you can put together a home security system without the klunk and expense of 20 years ago.

  1. Did you know that a non-reinforced door can be kicked open by a 105 pound woman? The point is that a non-reinforced door is worthless even if it’s locked. Doors should have a guard plate. Next, they should have a door jam reinforcement made of steel. Make sure you have a top-flight deadbolt system. These days, deadbolts come with amazing features.
  2. If you have lots of shrubbery around doors and windows, trim them back so that they don’t conceal prowlers. Also add lighting to these areas.
  3. Years ago I witnessed some teen punks hurl bricks at a house down the street in the dark. I heard windows shattering. On the market today is shatter-proof film that will stop a brick from penetrating a window. Even if a blood-thirsty burglar manages to crack a filmed window, he’s not going to get in.
  4. Consider a wireless garage door opener that you can control with your smartphone. Otherwise, never leave your garage door opener in view inside your car.
  5. With your smartphone, you can watch your house in real time to see if there’s any suspicious activity. Wi-Fi monitoring systems will alert you via phone if the surveillance cameras detect movement or sound. Then you can see if someone is creeping around on your deck—even if you’re a thousand miles away.
  6. One of the best ways to deter crime is to make your house look occupied. You’ve certainly heard of timed lighting systems, but BeOn takes this a few steps further. Install BeOn and it will “figure out” your family’s light usage pattern, then duplicate this when the house is empty, tricking burglars who’ve been watching your house into thinking you’re still home. Now that’s smart! Check out their Kickstarter campaign and invest in the future of smart security.
  7. In addition, leave a TV or stereo on loud enough for any prowlers to hear. BeOn is developing a sounder module that will also make the home seem occupied during the day (similar to leaving TV or stereo on as previously mentioned).

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BeOn Home Security discussing burglar proofing your home on NECN. Disclosures.

Use Door Reinforcement to beef up your Home Security

Though there’s no such thing as a 100 percent burglar-proof home, there’s also no such thing as a burglar who has the skills of Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt, Spiderman or the Hulk, either. With enough security measures, you can almost make your home burglar-proof.

When homeowners think of security, often only a limited range of devices comes into mind. For example, how many people even know that shatter proof glass exists? How many people would think to install fake (but real looking) surveillance cameras at all entry points where anyone can easily see them?

Have you ever even wondered just how much you can do with your front door to deter a break-in? First off, doors can be kicked in (three-quarter inch pine), even if they have a good lock (one-half inch screws and a stock strike plate). So when you see Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU” kicking down doors, that’s not unrealistic.

Door Reinforcement Devices

  • Door knob/deadbolt wrap. Installed on the door, these strengthen the area around the locks.
  • Door brace. These can be vertical or floor mounted, making it harder to kick down a door.
  • Door bar jammer. This bar device snuggly fits under a doorknob and is angled 45 degrees to the floor.
  • Strike plate. The thicker version is about three or four inches long.
  • Door frame reinforcement. Typically made of steel, this device can be up to four feet long and is installed on the door jamb center, over the existing strike plates. Braces come in different styles.

Kicking down a door—a common scene in cops-and-robbers TV shows and movies, is actually the No. 1 way criminals get into locked houses. They know where to kick; a door has a weak area and the frame can easily be kicked down.

A standard door security consists of two to four little screws that go through one or two small strike plates, that are attached to a thin door frame that consists of 1/2” to 3/4” pine with a ½” thick molding. A 6 year old can karate chop ½” pine. No wonder it’s so easy to blow apart the frame with a foot.

That’s where The Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jamb Security Kit comes in. It’s a one-sixteenth inch heavy steel, four feet long bar, installed on the door jamb center—over the existing strike plates. It makes all that thin wood obsolete because it screws directly into the doors frame.

The Kit includes:

  • 48 inch steel door jamb reinforcement to replace the three-inch brass strike plate
  • Four feet of the door frame absorbs force.
  • The 3.5 inch screws are heavy and three and a half inches, driven into 2×4 studs behind the frame.
  • The three inch screws reinforce the hinges.

Once this system is installed, you’re done. The only additional work is when you lock and unlock the door.

Door reinforcement is just one layer of security that should be complemented with other forms of security like surveillance cameras, motion detection lights and a home security system.

Most burglars aren’t MMA fighters. If the first few kicks fail to rattle a door, they will give up and move on to the next target.

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