Woman Suspect in Pot Stealing Home Invasion

It’s not often that I see “woman suspect” and “home invasion” in the same sentence. Home invasions are mostly done by Cro-Magnon men who are one step out of a cave and temporarily in society until they go back to jail. Police released a sketch of an armed woman accused of stealing two medicinal marijuana plants while a 19-year-old woman was home.

The report goes on to say it was two woman and two men, which makes a little more sense. All is right with the world again. The Mercury News reports the teen was in the bathroom at the time and was ordered to the ground and briefly held captive while the house was pillaged. They stole the pot plants as well as electronics.

The teen was not harmed. Luckily. The pot plants belonged to the teen’s mother, who is a medicinal marijuana card-holder.

California has led the charge to legalize weed for medical purposes. And many a quack provides medicinal marijuana cards to anyone who has even the slightest ailment.

A side effect of having the law past has led to many such crimes. Even though its semi legal, it’s still worth something substantial on the street. So if you tug on the whacky tabacky to sooth your aching whatever, it would probably be a good idea not to broadcast your prescribed pot.

Home invasions are best prevented by locking your doors all day and night and having a home security system installed and armed. Oh and on another note, if you have pot plants it’s probably not a good idea to have them in the window getting sun.

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

How Secure is your Mobile Phone?

I love my iPhone. The fact that I have a full web browser and can access all my data anytime from anywhere is fantastic. Plus my iPhone allows me to peek in on my home security system with an application that’s connected to my home security cameras. If I’m on the road I can log in and see the family doing whatever activities in our outside the home.

If you don’t have a phone that you can integrate with your home security system I strongly recommend considering an iPhone. Besides being the coolest thing to be able to show someone live video of your home base, it is incredible peace mind to check in.

And consider if that phone fell into the wrong hands what could come of it? In my case not much due to the fact I’m pretty well locked down.

If you have one of the popular brands below pay attention:


The Blackberry is easily the most popular Smartphone on the market and, according to, the most ‘natively’ secure. Just by having a Blackberry, you are one step ahead but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have to enable your security settings.

Enable your password. Under General Settings set your password to ‘on’ and select a secure password. You may also want to limit the number of password attempts. Test to make sure that your password works by locking your phone to confirm.

Encrypt your data. Under Content Protection settings, enable encryption. Then, under ‘Strength’ select either ‘stronger’ or ‘strongest’. Though ‘strongest’ is the most secure, ‘stronger’ has faster encryption/decryption. Under the Content Protection settings you will also have the option to encrypt your address book.

When visiting password protected internet sites do not save your passwords to the browser. Anyone who finds your phone and manages to unlock it will then have access to all of your account data and your identity will be stolen. It may be annoying to have to enter your password every time but the extra 30 seconds is certainly worth avoiding identity theft.


The iPhone, which has captured over 25% of the Smartphone market, the second highest share in the industry, has notoriously poor encryption capabilities. As such, enabling the included security features and adding apps that allow you to secure your information is key to being a ‘safe’ iPhone owner.

Enable the Pass code Lock and Auto-Lock. Go into your phones General Settings and set the 4-digit phone pass code to something that you will remember but is not ‘significant’ to you. That means no birth dates, no anniversary dates, no children’s ages. Then, go back into General Settings and set the Auto-Lock. Although you can choose from 1 min to 5min, the quicker your phone locks the safer it is from those who might be tempted to tamper with it while you aren’t looking.

Turn your Bluetooth off unless you are using it. Bluetooth allows you to easily connect to a hands-free head set or to send files from your phone to a computer. However, this also works the other way. A tech savvy hacker with a laptop can easily hack your phone from the Bluetooth connection if it’s on.

Download Simple Vault 1.2. Simple vault adds a second layer of protection to your iPhone by allowing you to password protect each of your apps. It also allows you to store your sensitive information right on your phone, unlike other security apps which send it to you over the internet when you access it


Whenever possible, wait till you get to your computer on a secured network before accessing sensitive information. When responding to important work emails or checking your bank account balance it really is best to wait until you can access this information from a secure network. Anti-virus and anti-malware software as well encryption capabilities for computers are miles ahead than what is currently available for phones. So ask yourself before you enter your credit card number to that online store: Is it worth identity theft for me to do this now or can it wait till I get back to the office/home?

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Mobile Phone Spying on Good Morning America

Ten Things to Look for When Choosing a Monitored Home Security Company

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a monitored home security system, begin researching security companies in your area.  Below is a list of questions you should ask when narrowing your search.

Do some research into the home security company you choose. What is their reputation and history?  How large is the company?  How many current customers do they have?  Is it a local company or nationwide?  Additionally, find out if home security is their primary business and their level of experience.  Check with the Better Business Bureau if you’re unsure.

How “new”is the home security product you are installing? Today’s home security systems are far more superior to those available in past years.  Make sure you are getting the most recent product available.

Does the home security company offer central station monitoring? A security system is only as good as the company that is monitoring it.  A reputable home security company should provide its own central station monitoring instead of having another company monitor for them.

Does the home security company’s monitoring facility have back-up systems and are those facilities UL-listed?

Does the home security company’s monitoring facility have back-up systems in case of power failures? Find out if the monitoring facility has gas or electric-powered generators – as well as battery back-up to ensure that monitoring continues despite power failures.  Monitoring facilities should have at least two types of back-up power supplies.

Spend time thinking about the “amount”of security you need. The size and layout of your home and property must be taken into consideration when designing a security system.  However, the basic elements of a standard system include a key pad, a control panel, a siren, an inside motion detector, at least two door contacts, as well as connection to a central monitoring station for around the clock coverage.

Secure your home from “hidden”household dangers, too. Don’t forget to equip your home with effective smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and flood detection systems as these are hidden dangers to your home and family.  Be sure to also equip your home with fire extinguishers and develop a fire escape plan and route that is familiar to all household occupants.

Ease-of-use and convenience of the home security system ensure a high level of usage. 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.

Make sure the system you install has a battery back-up unit. A security system is only useful when it’s active and working – even when there is a power failure.  Make sure the system you install has a battery back-up unit so home monitoring and protection is continuous. Monitoring facilities that have a UL rating (Underwriters Laboratory rating) have gone the extra step to ensure that they have reliable systems that will not fail.

What other benefits does the company offer besides installation and monitoring? Check to see what other benefits the home security company offers, including:
A money-back service guarantee in case you are not satisfied – including a full refund of your installation price and any monitoring fees paid?

Any guarantee against theft protection – if your home is being monitored by their service and is still burglarized, with the home security company contribute money towards your insurance deductible?

Are you a customer for life?  Does the home security company offer a relocation package so a new security system is installed in case you move?

What kind of customer service do they provide?  Is there a Web site that provides customer information and care?

Once you have selected a reputable monitored home security company, be sure to spend time with your security specialist to develop a security plan and system that meets you and your family’s specific needs.

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

Dumb Bungling Home Burglar Jailed

Yeah, one for the good guys! A taxi driver would pick people up at their homes then drop them off somewhere, and then he would then go back to that person’s house and break into it. I’ve often thought that’s what would happen when I get dropped off at the airport.

So, whenever they ask me where I’m going and when I will be back, I always say “Hold on, I need to make a quick call.” Then I get on the phone and call nobody and say “Hey Jimmy listen, the dog bit another guy who came to the house to deliver a package, there was blood everywhere, Killer shredded him real good, don’t let the beast out of the house. I’ll be back home early tonight. Make sure you set the home security system if you go out and activate the home security cameras as well. And tell our roommate Rocco the police were at the house looking for him in regards to that kid he pummeled the other night, if he doesn’t smarten up he will be going back to prison.”

Then back to the taxi driver “What were you saying?” And the conversation usually goes somewhere else.

The burglar would break into the homes and steal credit and debit cards. Then go to the same ATM more than 50 times – to try and guess the PIN numbers of bank cards he had stolen. He thought he might strike lucky if he kept on putting in random sets of four numbers into the ATM machine. But with the odds of correctly guessing a card’s PIN number ranked at one in 10,000. He never managed to make a single withdrawal. His repeated failed attempts at the same ATM only served to arouse suspicion and he was filmed by police on a CCTV camera.

You can always get creative with your home security. But you need to do all the fundamental things like locking your doors and invest in home security systems.

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

Steel Bars Hamper Rescue from Burning House

In some parts of the country, generally in big cities where crimes are higher, steel bars are a significant part of the home security landscape. We don’t see many new installations of steel bars today. If you live on a fist floor or basement level apartment, steel bars may be a consideration for windows and sometimes doors. However, newer technologies are available that are not only close to as effective to prevent a burglar, but are also safer when it comes to fire rescue.

A  man remained in critical condition Tuesday, a day after firefighters sawed through a set of steel security bars to pull him from his burning home. Bars on doors typically slow down the rescue by a minute or two – about the time it takes to warm up the power tools and saw through the steel. Steel bars on doors and windows typically are required to lock from the inside. If someone is locked inside a barred house and can’t leave on their own, rescue efforts can take a minute or two longer than usual.”

“Everybody wants their home to be secure, and steel bars are a good way to do it,” he said. “But again, I look at it from a different angle because of what I do,” said the battalion commander for Fire Emergency Management.

Certainly steel bars are going to be a deterrent. But in this situation the results of a fortress like home can be deadly in the event of a fire. Here are a few considerations.

1. Install a home security system that also has carbon monoxide sensors and smoke detectors to alert you, alarm central, the police and fire departments in case of noxious gasses or fire.

2. Consider home security cameras that can be remotely monitored.

3. Instead of bars on the doors, install a fireproofed door that doesn’t require firefighters to crank up a saw to get through. A battering ram is quicker.

4. Instead of bars on windows install window security film which is a clean thin virtually invisible layer of protection and is easily applied to your glass windows.

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

Awareness Based Security Initiatives

When something bad happens in a neighborhood, like burglaries, car theft or violence, the residents will often “react.” First thing they do is call the local home security alarm dealer, then a locksmith and maybe the local police to give a speech. For some, this may be the first time they lock their doors.

Reacting to a bad situation is often the catalyst that gets people motivated to take control of their personal security. People develop a sense of fear and make these security decisions not because they are security conscious, but because they are scared. While fear is certainly a motivator, it doesn’t always teach us a needed lesson.

The main problem with fear based motivation is eventually that person will no longer have the imminent fear and they stop locking their doors or setting their alarms. They may even start leaving their keys in the cars ignition again. Now they are as vulnerable as they were before.

Benjamin Franklin once said “To be safe, means never to be secure.” What Benny meant was that the moment that you believe you are fully “secure”, when you have the belief that you no longer need to be vigilant, when the awareness wears off and you think “its not going to happen to me.” Now your guard is down and you are a better target for the bad guy.

Always keep your head up, lock your doors, install a home security system and leave it on. If you think you live in a neighborhood where “you don’t need to lock your doors” then you are delusional.

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

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.

Building Out a Home Security System

Home security alarms are just one part of your overall system. Generally, the alarm can be wired or installed as a wireless home security system and consists of keypads at each entrance, motion sensors, glass break sensors and open door and window sensors. The alarm panel should be installed in a relatively secure enclosure and in a relatively secure room within the house. The alarms communications go to the monitoring company and the local police can be wired or wireless or both. Wired are best and a cell wireless back up is even better.

Additional layers of protection include the stickers that come along with the alarm that are installed on doors and windows. Make use of any additional lawn signage depicting “Home Security System” installed.

Beyond an alarm system with a digital video recorder set to record motion. Set up security cameras to monitor the perimeter. Security cameras can send off an alarm triggering additional lighting, sirens and alerting the home owner to a potential breach via text and telephone calls. I can immediately see my cameras via my iPhone. Cameras inside the house are necessary as well. Just short of a camera pointing right at the kids bed, the house is wired to show all doors and living spaces. Once you take the leap you wonder how you lived without it. It’s a very cool tool to find your keys or wallet if you lose them in the house.

Recently, I found an Easter basket at my front door without a note. I thought maybe the note blew off or the Easter bunny forgot to attach a note. I wasn’t sure. My first move was to check my DVR and look for motion triggered events and pull them up and scan the footage. When I saw my neighbor walking down the street with the Easter basket then up onto my porch to drop it off, disappointment set in. I was really hoping to catch the Easter Bunny on camera.

Next Christmas I’m pointing this bad boy right at the chimney.

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

Woman Captures Alleged Theft on Video

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

If I’ve said this a bazillion times I’ll say it again, video rules! Being able to access video footage of the days or evenings “goings on” provides a tremendous amount of security. The UK has always been the leader in introducing video surveillance in public.

“Public video surveillance in the UK began very unassumingly in 1986, on a single square mile industrial estate outside the English town of King’s Lynn. Three CCTV video surveillance cameras were used and their impact was immediate. In the years before the cameras were installed, there had been 58 crimes (mostly vandalism) recorded on the estate. In the two years following the installation, there were no crimes reported

Since then, millions of video cameras have been installed all over Europe, Asia and the United States.  Residential adoption of home security cameras is growing here in the states too. People everywhere now understand the benefits of being able to record activity that goes on at your residence while you are home or away. There is a tremendous piece of mind that goes along with being able to securely and remotely monitor over the Internet, what goes on at your home.

A Chicago woman says someone stole her boyfriend’s brand new computer that had just been delivered to her apartment building lobby. She caught the theft on videotape and police tell her there have been dozens of similar cases in the past two weeks. A security camera set up in the lobby of the building clearly shows a delivery person entering the front door of the building. The videotape shows a man walking up to the front door, apparently referring to a message on his phone and then punching in an access code to open the front door. Less than a minute later, the video shows the man leaving the building with the package under his arm, then running down the street.

Scenes like this are playing out all over the country. In many cases, home video surveillance is a great deterrent. With posted signage to add another layer of security, a criminal will generally think twice about stealing from “that” home and move onto one that doesn’t have video. Criminals don’t want to get caught for their bad deeds, and if a camera is on them they are less likely to strike.

The benefits of installing a home security system go way beyond deterrence or catching the bad guy. When you are at work, you can check in on your family at home. If you have a babysitter or nanny at the house, you can check in from the road. Some home security surveillance systems applications allow you to check in from a mobile phone too. If you have a vacation home, having a surveillance system installed there is fantastic.  And if you have an elderly parent who is home alone, having a security camera checking on them is a wonderful piece of mind.

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