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.

Police Want your Home Video Surveillance Footage

Police in San Jose, California believe that viewing home security footage will help them solve crimes. The proposal for homeowners to voluntarily register their security cameras for a new police department database is the creation of councilman Sam Liccardo. The idea is to view the footage promptly after a crime.

1HLiccardo revealed the proposal following a rash of arsons. Property owners willingly gave their home security videos to the police to help identify the arsonist, who has burned down a dozen buildings.

The new database would be managed by pre-existing city technology employees, making the cost nominal.

Homeowners would simply sign up for the database. Police could then remotely gain access into the cameras’ feeds. However, older models would need to be turned in for their tapes.

The issue of privacy concerns has been reared, even though the plan would be based on voluntary actions—which actually doesn’t make sense, since nobody would be forced or even pressured to give up their home footage.

Retired judge LaDoris Cordell says that the database plan is simply an extension of the evolution of surveillance technology, rather than an intrusion of privacy, a way for residents to be abreast of the happenings in their neighborhood.

San Jose wouldn’t be the first to launch such an initiative. Nearly 600 businesses and residents in Philadelphia have signed up with a similar program, which has led to 200 arrests based on video footage.

Liccardo will be facing a “Big Brother” obstacle as he attempts to get his plan approved, but says that the police will not be sitting around watching live feeds for kicks.

There have been no adverse responses to a similar program with the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno police department, in which 30 property owners have signed up.


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

Burglars using Video to stake out Homes

Yes, burglars do use video surveillance to case homes.

CAMSometimes burglars aren’t not so dumb, like the ones who use video to case homes.

A video camera the size of a matchstick has been discovered in the yards of several homes in North Texas’s upscale Dalworthington Gardens, where there have been break-ins.

According to the Dalworthington Gardens police, a homeowner presented them with the device, which was found near his driveway. Analysis revealed it was video surveillance for an ongoing burglary scheme.

So police established some counter-surveillance. Sure enough, next evening a man came to the home to retrieve the camera. The crook turned out to be a 21-year-old, Cain Santoyo, whose belongings in his car were the tools of burglars: lock picking instruments, a disguise, a stun gun/flash light and multiple surveillance cameras.

Also found was a motion detector that was rigged to a small radio transmitter, which seemed to serve the purpose of alerting a burglar inside a house that the homeowners have returned.

Inside Santoyo’s house, police discovered jewelry hidden in a crawlspace. They had reason to believe he was a burglar casing out homes with his tiny video cameras placed in yards.

Nevertheless, police concluded that this burglar had already sold many stolen items online. They expect that eventually, several burglary charges will be filed.

The police point out that it’s illegal for two parties to be recorded via audio without their knowledge, which equates to another charge!

Lesson learned: If a homeowner discovers an odd trinket, even if it resembles bark from a tree, in their yard, that just doesn’t seem to belong there (it’s the only thing like it in the yard, and its source is unknown), then remove it, and consider having the police examine it. It just might be a tiny video camera that a would-be burglar placed on your property.

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

Prowler Alert issued

Two men, impersonating San Jose police officers, waltzed through the unlocked door of a woman’s home and told her they were there to check on her welfare. This happened in the early evening, and the men were described as being Hispanic and 5-7 and 155 pounds. They presented the woman with identification but she smelled a fish.

2BWhile the men were there, she called the Petaluma police dispatch center. One of the men was brazen enough to tell the dispatcher he was checking on the 66-year-old woman’s well-being, then hung up. The men then left the property.

The San Jose police said they had no officers in the Petaluma area, and are urging residents to keep their doors locked—no excuses—at all times. They should also request a photo ID of anyone claiming to be a police officer who’s in plain clothes.

Simple Home Security Guidelines

  • If a stranger is at your door, never speak to that person through an open door or screen door. Talk to them through a locked door.
  • Never allow children to answer the door.
  • Not all home invaders ring the doorbell or knock. Some barge in unexpectedly, so always have the alarm system on, even if it means having to always remember to turn it off when you step out.
  • And of course, get the home alarm system.
  • Have a 24-hour video surveillance system installed. The site of a camera usually scares off a would-be intruder. Cameras should point to all your doors and other access points.
  • Consider getting a German shepherd or other large breed that has a natural guarding instinct and innate territoriality. You may fret at the thought of having to take a dog for walks every day, cleaning up after it, feeding it, etc., but that will be more exercise for you (who doesn’t need more exercise?), a great companion that offers unconditional love, and a superb deterrent to a home invasion or burglary attempt.

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Protect Your Home without a Gun: Effective Ways

Yes, you can protect your home without a gun. Having been in the security industry for many years, I have instructed homeowners on proven ways to protect their home without using a firearm. Here are proven ways to protect your home without a gun.

5HPepper Spray

This stuff works. Just getting the mist in your face from it being carried upwind will make you cough and your eyes burn. Imagine what this chemical will do when sprayed directly into the face of a home intruder.

House Watching

  • Have a house sitter stay at your place while you’re on vacation.
  • Arrange to have trusted people drop by occasionally as well.
  • Use a monitoring firm that will send help if an intruder trips an alarm.

Exterior Fortification

  • If possible install flood lights, particularly near secluded portals.
  • Employ a motion sensor that flips the lights on.
  • Plant thorn-bearing brush under windows and other areas where a burglar might creep around.

Get a Dog

  • Not only will the homeowner be awakened by even a tiny dog’s frantic barking when it hears/smells a stranger on the premises, but it will get the attention of neighbors. Many a burglar will flee when little Princess begins yipping like mad, let alone Duke.
  • If the dog alarm goes off, call 9-1-1.
  • Grab the baseball bat or golf club (that you have at your bedside) to prepare for possible defense.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself with swords or weaponry you’re not trained to use, or that look effective but can’t be swung in limited space.


  • Arm your perimeter with a complete surveillance system.
  • Security cameras, when detecting motion, can emit a siren or lighting that can alert the homeowner via a smartphone.
  • Use apps that allow you to view your home from your mobile device.
  • Install cameras inside your house as well.

Home security system

  • A home alarm screams when you can’t.
  • Home security systems call the police when you aren’t able.
  • Home security alarms deter intruders who fear they might get caught.

If guns make you feel unnerved, you just learned how you can protect your home without a gun.

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

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.

Defensive Shrubs prick Intruders

Ever consider using plants to deter an intruder? No, not smashing a cactus into his face, (but that’s an option) but growing thorn-bearing tress, shrubs and vines outside your house. The reasons these plants have thorns is to protect them from predators. They can protect you from predators as well.

1SIf vulnerable areas of your residence have thorn-bearing plants, this can ward off intruders. Some plant varieties grow very fast and prolifically. It’s just a matter of finding out which type of plant grows best in your location. To determine your plant hardiness zone go here to search your zone and plant.

Thorn-bearing Trees

Nobody wants to climb a tree whose trunk is jutting thorns.

  • Honey locust. This tree sprouts sharp red thorns, but also provides edible sweet seeds that can be given to livestock.
  • Argentine mesquite. The thorns on this tree grow to two inches. No criminal will want to tackle these thorns to get to your second story window.
  • Black locust. These thorns not only prick, but cause swelling and additional pain.

Thorn-bearing vines

Here is security and beauty all wrapped into one. Check out the following varieties:

  • Climbing roses
  • Catsclaw creeper
  • Bougainvillea
  • Blackberry vines

Thorn-bearing bushes

Nobody’s going to want to get past these to access your window.

  • Cactus. If your climate permits, these spiked plants will scare off intruders. The chollas have two inch thorns.
  • Pyracantha (fire thorn bush). The thorns will produce a burning stinging that will last for hours.
  • Rogosa roses. These pretty flowers have plenty of thorns.
  • Catsclaw acacia. The thorns are hidden by flowers and leaves; a nice surprise for a burglar.
  • Washington hawthorn tree. It can be pruned into a bush and grow right under a window, displaying aesthetic red berries.
  • Oregon grape holly. This attractive shrub has two inch thorns.

An alarm system is a great way to deter a bad guy from coming in your home, but may not stop an intruder from making contact with a portal to your home. However, many different kinds of vegetation can make a criminal think twice before even getting close enough to put his hands on a window or other portal.

Beef up your home’s electronic security network by planting a network of beautiful but imposing greenery.

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

Renting and Securing an Apartment

The time has come to leave the nest. The little birdie has to spread its wings and fly on their own whether they like it or not.  The process is often overwhelming and difficult and the results can end up being great or awful. But knowing what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time can save you all kinds of headaches down the road.

Check the crime climate of the city/town/neighborhood you are considering moving to.  Often we make moving decisions based on convenience and price.  However consider spending a little more (or even less) if another location is safer but less convenient.

Protect your identity. Landlords almost always ask for a Social Security Number in order to check an applicant’s credit prior to considering them for a move. It is generally not an option to say NO. However by investing in a credit freeze or credit monitoring you can reduce your risks that the Social Security Number will be used for identity theft.

Check out potential roommates. I did the roommate thing throughout my entire 20’s. I had the best and the worst roommates of all times. Some, I am friends with today and others, I wish I never met. There are numerous considerations to be made. The most important consideration is your personal security. Do a background check before signing a lease with a potential roommate.  Determine if they have any type of a criminal history. A background check may also determine if they have even been bankrupt.

Ask the landlord about options for installing an apartment security alarm for maximum safety. Apartment security systems today are easy to install for a do-it-yourselfer or certified alarm dealer. Often they require minimal wiring which means the landlord should have a problem with it. Wireless home alarms are even easier and only require batteries and two sided tape. If the landlord opposes an apartment security system, then the apartment is the right fit for you.

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

Police Seek 2 Men, Woman in Stun-gun Robberies

A Stun gun or electromuscular incapacitation device when pressed against a human’s body causes a disruption in the electrical impulses of the nervous system.  When someone is “shocked” in the upper chest area where the arms meet the chest or the lower abdomen on the left or right sides and in the upper thighs, they may lose the ability to walk, talk or function normally.  Stun guns are considered non-lethal, which means they aren’t supposed to kill. However there have been situations where people have died when a stun gun was involved in subduing them.

Seattle police are searching for a trio of robbers responsible for daytime attacks on three women using stun guns.

In each case they were “crimes of opportunity. Crimes of opportunity generally mean the victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but what it really means is they were taken by surprise.

The women were going about their business and the robbers attacked them. One was pushed into her trunk then her purse stolen. Her wallet with her home address and her keys were stolen so her landlord changed her locks.

Another woman was followed home and while taking groceries out of her car was accosted by 2 men.

A third woman was in her driveway when she too was robbed when she heard the crack of a stun gun then fell to the ground hitting her head.

An attacker’s tool of trade is the element of surprise. They like to attack from behind when you aren’t paying attention. They also attack from the side or often use a distraction up front.  It’s easy to say all these attacks could have been prevented. But as they say, easier said than done.

By being fully aware of your surroundings you look less like a potential target.  When a bad guy stalks you, if they know you see them, they may move on to someone who they can easily surprise.

Always know what is going on behind you.

Be prepared for someone approaching and distracting you.

When pulling into your garage if you have the option shut the door behind you before you get out of your car.

When pulling into your driveway always look around your car before getting out.

Consider a home security alarm that also has home security cameras.  That same alarm equipped with a panic button can help you if you see someone paying unwanted attention. By hitting that panic button it sets off an alarm getting attention to the situation.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing non-lethal personal protection and home invasions on the Gordon Elliot show.

Home Safety Tips to Prevent a Burglary

Imagine pulling in the driveway and seeing your side door open and some of your stuff on the ground. You wonder what’s happening and think maybe your spouse or kids dropped something or left the door open. 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.

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. If the door is locked they will use a crowbar to force it open. Lock your doors. 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 doors 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.

Secure 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.

Use high wattage 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. If you have home security cameras, this also helps the cameras do their jobs more effectively. Motion sensors are OK, but I prefer timed lighting that goes on at dusk and off at dawn. Motion sensors sometimes “ghost” and give the impression that someone is there when they aren’t.

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