10 Holiday home security checklist tips

You can have peace of mind while away from home during the holidays by implementing the following home security tips.

  1. 1SHome vacation checks. Arrange with your local police department to periodically cruise by your house when you’re out of town.
  2. Alert your neighborhood watch group. Inform the group of your vacation plans so they can be extra alert to suspicious activity about your house. If there’s no formal watch group, ask a friend or neighbor to check up on your residence. This includes having them remove any packages on your doorstep or accumulated newspapers.
  3. Police inspection. Schedule a police officer to assess your residence for security ideas.
  4. Update the burglar alarm. Inform the alarm company you’ll be out of town; provide them a phone number where you can be contacted. Give the alarm company the phone number of anyone checking up on your residence. If the alarm is tripped, the company will be speaking to you or your friend, rather than the burglar in the house when he picks up the phone.
  5. Inspect motion detectors. Make sure that motion detectors cannot be set off by billowing curtains or pets.
  6. Secure all portals. Make sure all the locks work. Repair any cracks in doors or windows. Set the pin lock on your garage if it opens by remote. Sliding doors should have bars that prevent giggling them open.
  7. Conceal valuables. Keep valuable items out of sight from peepers outside the house. Don’t keep spare keys in places obvious to burglars such as under a flower pot or fake rock. Remove valuable items from sight in your car, if parked in the driveway, and put a lock on the steering wheel.
  8. Stop mail and newspaper delivery. Arrange with the post office and newspaper service to have your mail and newspaper on vacation hold.
  9. A lived-in look. Mow your lawn just before you leave for a long trip so that it looks recently cared for. Use automatic light timers for holiday lights if your house is decorated with these to fool burglars that you’re home.
  10. Discard any signs you have expensive items in the house. Examples might be empty computer containers or flat screen TV boxes lying around outside. Store bikes, toys, etc., in the garage.

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

Remote Monitoring for Your Business

Remote security systems like ADT Pulse™ and ADT Pulse™ for Business allow homeowners or operators of a business to control a building’s key functions without even having to be present.

Did you know from almost anywhere you can easily arm and disarm your alarm system, giving added security when you can’t be there to lock up? What’s cool is you can view events in multiple areas of your facility, have greater control over loss, and oversee your business from almost anywhere.

For example if somebody leaves the coffee maker on, you can shut it off from your mobile. If the AC is set on high you can lower it. You can control these settings when you’re not in the office.

Whether away on business or across town at home, you can receive email & text alerts on your mobile or tablet regarding your business and system.

The Chicago Tribune reports “For those who are techno-phobic or just don’t know where to begin, at no obligation, ADT’s team of small business security specialists can assess what security system or service is right for their business, and layout a plan. During the system is installation, there is hands-on training and 24/7 customer support that will dispatch a technician if necessary.”

It has no less than 5 ways to turn it on and off including a wired keypad, iPhone app, Touch pad, computer and remote control on the keychain for deactivating before the garage door goes up. The touch pads sit in bedrooms/office/kitchen and has a live video feed tuned into anywhere you want. There’s also a big green or red icon on the touch pad letting you know if it’s set or not. The touchpad definitely give you more control with, than without. It allows very simple setting of the alarm so it’s mostly always on and you know it which reduces false alarms.

What I like most is the remote security cameras. No matter where in the world you are, with remote video monitoringyour business is only a click away.

Custom Fitting A Home Security System

There is no such thing as one size fits all. Today, we have more variety and choice than in the first 1950 years of modernity combined. Why? Because we want it! Transportation fueled by oil and gasoline along with big box retailers and suburbia all transformed life as we know it and choice became an option.

My ADT Pulse system is no different. When the sales person showed me my options, it was like I was 10 years old and he was Santa and I was able to go right in his big red bag of tricks and pick out all the stuff that had been on my list since I was 5!

You wouldn’t think one would get all giddy about a home security system but this is not just home security. It’s home automation that secures your home. We walked through my home and he asked me all kinds of pertinent questions about our comings and goings to help decide on what options would suit us and secure us best.

We discussed all the light switches that I’d want replaced with home automation to be able to turn on remotely and have set to go on when we came home or timed to give the impression we were home when we weren’t.

Next  was all the areas of the home I wanted to install surveillance cameras that would allow me to record and drop in on sections of the house while I’m traveling or even home.

Most importantly, we went through a whole process of thinking like a burglar and determined all the vulnerable areas of the home that needed sensors on doors and windows such as motion and glass break. For me, that was the funniest part. Thinking like a burglar is necessary to prevent a burglar from getting in.

You’d be amazed at the lengths a burglar will go through to get in. And, scaling a 3 story porch and busting through a door or window on a ledge is a welcome challenge for a burglar. I’ve got that covered!

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

Home Security Has Never Been Easier

Home is where you look forward to towards the end of a vacation. Home is where you rush to at the end of a work day. Home is where you’d rather be when you are somewhere else. After all, as Dorothy said tapping her ruby red slippers, “there’s no place like home”.

Our homes become a place of comfort unlike any other worldly possession. It’s where all our stuff is, in all the places we put it, in the order (or disorder) we create. It’s where our kids sleep, dog naps and where we eat.

Most people take for granted the feeling of safety and security in their home. They expect it as a given. Like a sense of entitlement.

I’ve always believed this is a mistake.  Because when one takes security for granted, they completely have their guard down. This means they are vulnerable to any whacko who jiggles a doorknob looking for the path of least resistance.

If a person’s home is invaded or burglarized, they quickly lose that sense of security and never feel the same way again. Some people even quickly sell below market value just to get out from what has become a perceived black cloud over their property.

Simply locking your doors is a start and taking control like this doesn’t mean you are “paranoid”. Then taking the next steps and installing a home security system is the smartest thing you can do.

Your home is your castle. And it should be treated as such.

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.

Connectivity and interactivity are driving the way people live and manage their homes. ADT Pulse provides customers with anywhere, anytime access to their home via smart phones or personal computers, including an iPhone application to:

• Arm and disarm their home security system.

• Get notified of alarms and selected events via email and text messages as well as video clips.

• View their home through cameras and watch secure real-time video or stored video clips of events from monitored areas of the home.

• Access lights and appliances or set schedules to automate them.

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

Woman Drags Naked Intruder By His Beard

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’…then there is this woman.

They say “never hit a woman”.  The reason is because women don’t just hit back, they keep hitting back until they are done with you. Plus it isn’t cool.

A 64-year-old woman fought off a neighbor and dragged him out of her house by his beard after he let himself into her Kansas City home and took his clothes off. The woman said she awoke about 12:50 a.m and found her 62-year-old neighbor standing over her naked, as she tried to throw him out, he allegedly grabbed her throat. She picked up a tape measure and bonked it against his head three times. He left.”

Moment’s later police found him outside crying. I think I’d cry too after a bonk on the head and a whooping like that.

Resistance in this situation worked out for the victim.  At 64 she decided she wasn’t going to sit back and allow the intruder to make advances on her in any way.

What is important to understand is in any attack situation the victim actually has a lot of control over the outcome if they react within the first 30-60 seconds. What the victim does in that initial time frame can allow them to gain control over the direction of the attack. The attacker generally goes into the attack thinking the victim will be submissive but when the victim is confrontational the attacker is usually not prepared for that.

This entire situation could have been prevented if the homeowner had a home security system installed and beefed up her doors and windows with the appropriate locks. Now THAT is taking control.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing self defense 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.

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.

Home Security Tips When Selling Your House

Selling a home is a big task requiring lots of time and effort. Most people use a professional real estate agent to help them sell (which I recommend), but many today are doing it themselves. When opening your home to strangers the risks to your families’ personal security increase dramatically.

First and foremost recognize that when you are placing ads and alerting the world to come inside and take a peek, you are going to have to make a few adjustments and begin to think differently in this process.

Secure valuables. Lock up or remove anything that you don’t want stolen. If you ever suspect or see someone steal something, let them have it. There is nothing material worth fighting over.

Be suspect of everyone. There isn’t any benefit in being paranoid; however, being a little guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. Don’t just be wary of a man showing up unaccompanied. Expect them to show up in a nice car, well dressed, maybe with a wife and kids tagging along. They might have a business card saying they are a doctor or a lawyer. Don’t let your guard down.

When placing ads, all advertisements should state “Appointment only” “Drivers license required” and “Pre Approval Documentation Required.” There are all hoops the bad guy may not want to jump through and you vetting out those who are “just looking” at the same time.

Use the Buddy System. When you set appointments always schedule around a spouse or friends availability so they can join you. There is always strength in numbers. If you have to go it solo, when someone walks in, say, “I’d be happy to show you the benefits of this home! In a few minutes my friend Rocco will be along to assist me,” creating the illusion of the buddy system.

ID and pre-qualify at your first meeting. When you are meeting at your property, get some form of identification. Also, it is to your benefit that a potential client buying a home is pre-qualified. Someone who is pre-qualified by a lender is less likely to be a predator.

Safe open houses. Spend a few minutes considering all the vulnerable points within the home and how you would escape if necessary.

Dress for safety and success. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. A $3-5 thousand-dollar diamond buys a lot of drugs. Dress professionally instead of provocatively.

Pay attention to your intuition. Trust your gut, and don’t discount any troubling feelings you might have about your new prospect. The moment you sense danger leave the house.

Install a home security system. Home security cameras and a home alarm system are great selling points. Install these way ahead of time for security purposes. During showings carry a remote control for your alarm system that has a panic button and can alert law enforcement if you run into trouble.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Real Estate Agent Security on Inside Edition.

Police Battle Break-in Trend

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Belmont Massachusetts is right near Boston. This is not too far from my house and it’s where people “Pahk the Cahh in Hahvad Yahd.”  Police are fighting a battle that has its residents all shook up over more than a dozen home burglaries in recent weeks. Many of the victims came home to broken windows and kicked in doors.

Among the missing items were jewelry, coins and electronics which are common resalable items fenced on the streets and in pawnshops. In at least 2 cases plasma TVs were taken.

Police say the number of break-ins is about on par with what they’d expect, although possibly on the higher side because of the trickle down effects of the economic downturn. Some of it’s based on the economy right now, said a spokesman for the department. “It’s people trying to supplement what little or no income they have. We encourage residents to use common sense, people have to take a little bit of responsibility for their own safety and security. Lock your cars, lock your doors.”

In 2 cases they determined teenagers broke into homes to party. One family came home to find liquor and cigars stolen. Another reported their house was messy and smelled of alcohol and one of the beds was slept in.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice only about 17 percent of property crimes are ever solved.

I have a question. Have any of these people ever heard of a “home security system?”  It’s a simple question. You know, those electrical noisy thingies that set off an alarm when an unauthorized person or party forcibly enters the residence? These same doo-hickies CALL THE POLICE. With all due respect, and please, excuse my insensitivity to the matter, while the homeowner is not responsible for the break-in, and while it is an awful thing to happen, you are in the best position to prevent it.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. The best thing you can do is be proactive. As eloquently stated, “people have to take a little bit of responsibility for their own safety and security.”

Robert Siciliano personal security expert, to Home Security Source discussing personal security on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures

Apartment Security 101

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, apartments have an 85 percent more chance of being burglarized. Homeowner or renter, everyone has the same cares and concerns regarding their personal security.

As a landlord, or, as I request they refer to me, a Landdude, I make apartment security a priority for my tenants. We have home security systems, surveillance cameras, 400 watt sodium lighting on the exterior and a process in place where we watch out for each other. If I’m traveling, my tenants pay extra attention to my family and vice versa.

We have a schedule that involves locking exterior doors and making sure the property is secured. If a stranger is in the area or paying unwanted attention to us or the property, we call each other to decide what we may do in response. There’s always strength in numbers.

If you are looking to make a move and an apartment is in your future, make sure you do your homework.

While the landlord may interview you, you should interview the landlord. Find out what his/her processes are for security. What is their annual investment? What is their philosophy regarding apartment security? Do they even have one?

Does the landlord do anything in regards to background checks? What is the existing security at the property? Ask about lighting, cameras, locks on doors and windows and has he even changed the keys since the last tenant. What is the immediate neighborhood like? Are their local drug houses, etc?

Contact the local law enforcement and ask for a record of recent crimes committed. Get some statistics. Some law enforcement agencies will be more or less cooperative. You want to know about the prevalence of violent crimes, sex offenders and theft.

One of the most effective ways to get the pulse of the community is by buying the local newspaper. The police blotter over a one month period is telling.

Ask if you have permission to install an in-apartment home security system with motion detectors. This should not be negotiable. Wireless home security systems are non-invasive and not expensive.

Require a peep hole on your door.

If the doors are glass paned opposed to solid core doors, then your potential landlord isn’t concerned about your security.

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