15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

You and your family aren’t the only ones who love the holidays; burglars love them, too. Not only do they know that it gets dark earlier after the time change in November, they also know that you have a lot of newly purchased gifts in your home. It is the perfect storm.

Most homeowners take extra steps around the holiday season to protect their homes. For instance, they often take precautions with Christmas lights or candles as to not start a fire. However, most don’t take any extra security measures to prevent a home robbery. Yes, fire protection is very important, but your home is much more likely to be robbed than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 tips that you can use during this upcoming holiday season:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. This is true even in the daylight and even when you are home.
  2. Always keep your windows locked, even those that are on the second floor. Burglars can and do climb.
  3. Use high quality locks and door reinforcements.
  4. Keep all of your blinds and curtains closed. This keeps your valuables away from prying eyes.
  5. Install security film on all of your windows. These help to strengthen them and help them to hold up to things like crow bars, rocks and baseball bats.
  6. Try to make your home look “lived-in” even if you aren’t home. One way to do this is with home automation technology. These systems do things like turn on/off lights automatically, so that it looks like someone is there.
  7. Bring in your mail and newspaper as soon as they are delivered.
  8. Put a large dog bowl outside near your door. Try to make it look as realistic as possible with water inside it. Also, place a thick leash and chewed up dog toys around.
  9. Take a pair of worn men’s work boots and place them by the door. This makes it less likely that a burglar will enter because they don’t want to confront a man they can’t overpower.
  10. Clear out shrubbery around entry points. These are good hiding places for burglars.
  11. Do a Google news search with the name of your city, state, and the phrase “door kicked in.” What do you see? Likely several cases of the door getting kicked into people in your area. Use door reinforcement products.
  12. If you have a garage, use it to pack and unpack gifts into your car. If you do it outdoors, a burglar might be watching.
  13. Don’t advertise your gift purchases on your social media pages. Thieves are notorious for using social media to find victims.
  14. Invest in a security system for your home. Choose one that offers a view of what is happening in your home. You can access this via computer, tablet, or smart phone.
  15. If you park your car outside, place a pair of large men’s gloves in it. Most burglars won’t go into a house if they believe a large man lives there.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

How to digitally detox on Vacation

Many years ago when you were on vacation, before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were invented (assuming you were an adult then), you had a great time, right? You weren’t “connected,” because there was no social media to be connected with.

2DIf today you can’t imagine being disconnected from social media while on vacation, ask yourself how this can be, if years ago, you never missed what had not yet been invented.

And what about constantly checking e-mail while on vacation? Or constantly perusing various websites with your mobile while at the beach?

Intel did a recent study:

  • 55% of Americans can’t disconnect while vacationing.
  • Two-thirds actually wanted to disconnect (detox), but less than half actually did so.
  • But when they did disconnect, 88% reported feeling okay about it and connecting better with travel mates.

Motivation to Detox

  • Know that cybercrooks are banking that vacationers do not disconnect.
  • Vacationers are especially vulnerable when they use public Wi-Fi, as cyberthieves can “snoop” on login entries and steal login information (such as to your bank, or get your credit card number when you online shop at the coffee house).
  • Can’t stay away from your e-mail when vacationing? Cybercrooks can gain access here, too.
  • Though installation of a virtual private network will prevent cyber snooping, it won’t prevent shoulder surfing, or thieves using high powered cameras to capture what you’re doing across the coffee house.
  • Of course, your devices should have security software that’s always updated.
  • Your devices should be password-protected as well.
  • Before embarking on your vacation (and not a few days before, but a few weeks before), practice disconnecting for 24 hours. If you must check your e-mail daily for business purposes, at least practice disconnecting from social media for 24, even 48 hours. Can you do it?
  • Can you stay off your mobile device while waiting at the dentist’s office or at the motor vehicle agency?
  • These “home” practice sessions can help you overcome withdrawal symptoms of not checking Twitter, Facebook or e-mail every 10 minutes.

Robert Siciliano CEO of, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Preplan for a Safe Vacation

Traveling is fun, exciting, tiring and depending on your destination, generally safe. But bad things can happen. The best thing you can do before you go, is prepare.

5HSafety Tips

  • Blend in on your vacation. Before you leave for your trip, plan out your arrival. Dress like the locals. Preparing to blend into the ambience before you leave ensures you won’t be accosted the second you get off the plane. Don’t stick out like a sore thumb dressed in Western attire while you roam around a city where most women are wearing robes or the men are wearing turbans. If wearing a kimono means reducing your odds of being mugged (tourists are known for carrying a lot of cash) or abducted, then do just that.
  • Try not to “play it by ear.” Have a plan in action for every day—and develop it either the night before or early in the morning.
  • Plan. figure out where you’re going to have breakfast; figure out how much time you need in the morning to do anything related to the day’s events (e.g., get tickets, arrange transportation, bring enough diapers for the toddler).
  • Have your young kids wear those sneakers that light up with each step; this will help you know where they are.
  • Before you departed for the trip, you created something to put on your children’s person that contains vital information about them, in case they got lost, right? There are numerous GPS devices that can help you locate them is something happens.
  • And your kids already know how to swim, right? An infant can learn to swim.
  • And you’ve already taught your kids about stranger danger, right? Don’t wait till you’re on vacation to do this.
  • And speaking of young kids…forbid them from dashing ahead of you, especially in crowded areas, especially in a foreign land. You just never know what could happen (e.g., someone swiping your child; your child accidentally ramming into someone and getting injured or inadvertently knocking over a frail elder). Really, I’ve seen kids bolting ahead of their parents like a freight train, including when the parents are not paying attention.
  • Every morning, review instructions for emergencies. This includes instructing your kids to yell, “This man’s not my dad!” if they’re being abducted, rather than just wildly screaming.
  • Before you left for the trip, you packed/uploaded/took headshots of every family member, right? In case someone goes missing?
  • Every morning, make sure everyone has a headshot of everyone on their person. This way, if your young child approaches a woman (because they were taught to approach only a woman if lost), they can show that woman a photo of you and say, “I need your help. I can’t find my patrents.”
  • You’re outside, eager to sightsee. But not before you get key landmarks squared away with everyone in your party.

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

15 Simple Secure Home Holiday Travel Tips

The holidays are here, and burglars are ready for you. Are you ready for them? One of the best ways to deter home robbery is to make the burglar think you’re inside the house. Here’s how to do that: 2H

  1. The first thing to do is enforce the burglar’s favorite point of entry: the front door. Though movies usually show intruders bashing through windows (for dramatic effect), the vast majority get in through the front door. The door should be protected with a full-scale deadbolt/lock device, ideally with a built-in alarm—which can be controlled remotely.Piper, which is controlled from your iOS or Android mobile device, has a 105db alarm that can be triggered to go off when the door or window has been opened or when motion has been detected.
  2. There are “door reinforcement” devices out there that beef up your door jams from kick-ins. Google them and get them!
  3. Burglars, of course, do make break-in attempts through windows, including second story, so keep them locked at all times.
  4. Make sure the garage is always locked. Unplug garage door openers if you are gone for a while.
  5. Never pack up your vehicle for vacation in plain view; do it inside the garage with the door down. If there’s not enough room, do it late at night in the dark.
  6. Put a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper delivery.
  7. If you plan on being on vacation, arrange to have your lawn mowed (unattended lawns look like you haven’t been home for a long time) and any snowfall shoveled while you’re gone.
  8. Have a trusted person park their car in your driveway to make it seem like you’re home.
  9. Whether or not you have a dog, leave out signs that you have a large dog, but don’t be stagey about it. A large, unlabeled bowl with a few “uneaten” bits of food is more convincing than a perfectly clean bowl labeled “THOR.”
  10. Use light timing devices rather than leaving a light on the entire time while you’re gone. Piper home automation capabilities can be set up to turn lights on and off and allow you to remotely view all home activity from your mobile device.
  11. Don’t display holiday gifts to the outside world; the pile under the tree should be impossible to see from outside.
  12. And just in case someone does break in, make it hard for them to find any valuables. For instance, place your jewelry in a fast food bag in a fake wastebasket. It’s not likely a crook will think to check it for diamonds.
  13. Don’t announce your vacation plans on Facebook until after you’ve returned.
  14. Don’t say anything on your voice mail welcome that suggests you’re out, such as “we will return soon.” Instead say, “We’re unable to answer right now; please leave a message.” Better yet, say something like, “We are home, but busy right now; I’ll return your call immediately.”
  15. Get a home security system that’s remotely controlled. Piper doesn’t require a monthly monitoring fee so you can save a few bucks around the holidays.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist for Piper, the All-In-One Home Security, Video Monitoring and Automation Device, discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

15 tips to Securing your Home for the Holidays

You know who really loves that ever-so-annoying “fall back” time change November 1? Burglars. Because it gives them an earlier start on their criminal activities because they love to work in the dark. And burglars get busier as daylight becomes shorter and the holiday season nears.

1SMany people will take precautions to prevent fires started by Christmas lights, yet will ignore security measures that can prevent a home robbery. Very strange. Though fire prevention is important, your home is, statistically, far more likely to be burglarized during the holidays than go up in smoke. So here are ways to keep the thieves away.

  1. Keep all windows locked, even on the second floor. Yes, some burglars learn climbing skills.
  2. Put security films on your windows that prevent penetration from a crow bar or baseball bat.
  3. Keep all doors locked, even in broad daylight when you’re home.
  4. Use top-flight locks and door reinforcements.
  5. Keep curtains or shades/blinds closed so that nobody can peek in and see your valuables or your hardly-imposing 120 pound frame.
  6. Always collect your mail, newspaper delivery, as soon as they arrive.
  7. Give your house that lived in look even when your home. Piper’s home automation technology, controlled viayour iOS or Android mobile device,can be set to turn your lights on and off at specific times.
  8. Put a large dog bowl on the front deck or by the front door. But don’t make it look staged by labeling it “Bear,” “Bruno” or “King.” Make it more realistic by adding a large chew toy and putting the bowl on top of a small mat. Maybe put a big leash nearby.
  9. Place a pair of men’s size 12 work boots near the door (scuff them up to make them look worn) or get them from an Army Navy surplus store.
  10. If your car is always parked outside because you don’t have a garage, place a pair of mans gloves on the front dash. Casing thieves will think twice if they think a man’s inside.
  11. Make sure no shrubbery crowds around entry points.
  12. If you have a garage, always pack and unpack gifts and stuff so nobody sees what’s going on.
  13. Don’t blab on social media about stuff you buy or that you are heading to the mall. Many crooks scan social media to see who’s doing what and when.
  14. Invest in a home security system like Piper, which requires minimal setup, no contracts and provides a clear view (via your mobile device) of what’s going on in your home when you’re not there. With its built-in motion sensor and siren, you can arm Piper to deter and alert you to intruders.
  15. Put Piper devices near your front door and back door and monitor them on your smartphone or tablet.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist for Piper, the All-In-One Home Security, Video Monitoring and Automation Device, discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

America’s Most Wanted Teen

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Colton Harris Moore stole a bicycle at the age of 8 and never looked back. Now 6 ft. 5 in. and 18 years old, Harris Moore is suspected in over 100 burglaries in the Pacific Northwest. Recently he has been credited with stealing cars, speedboats and now airplanes (at least 3). He is known as the “Barefoot Burglarbecause he kicked off his shoes running from the police through the woods.

This 18 year old has never taken a flying lesson and has achieved celebrity like status with over 20,000 Facebook fans. However, Harris-Moore isn’t one to be celebrated. He steals as much from the average hard worker as he does from the dotcom rich.

He breaks into homes to get what he needs to survive in the woods and it is believed he enjoys the high living in the unoccupied rich vacation homes. He’s been known to make himself a bowl of ice cream and take a hot bath.

Generally, he will break in and copy down credit card numbers out of wallets, opposed to stealing the whole card, to avoid detection. He was accused of using a homeowners PC to buy a $6500.00 pair of night vision glasses and bear Mace. He’s also charged thousands of dollars in police scanners, video games and GPS devices.

He’s also accused of stealing an assault rifle out of a cop car. Which means he’s potentially armed and dangerous.

1. Install outdoor lighting on timers and motion sensors.

2. Make sure your home has a “lived in” look.

3. Use indoor timers for lights, TVs and automatic shades.

4. Install security cameras that can be remotely monitored.

5. Install a home alarm system monitored by an alarm company and the police.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.