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Top Five Tips From A Reformed Burglar

Jan 28, 2008
When Norm and Sherry pulled into their driveway one summer night in 2006, the last thing on their mind was home security. All they could think about was unwinding after a long, crummy day. As they climbed out of their car, exhausted, little did they know that their day was just about to get a whole lot worse. On the other side of the house, a stranger was just slipping out, unnoticed, his arms filled with several hundred dollars worth of valuables - some irreplaceable.

Lucky for Norm and Sherry, theirs wasn't one of the over 2 million homes targeted by thieves in the US every year. They were the "victims" of the Discovery Channel TV show, It Takes a Thief, which ran from 2005 to 2007. The burglar was host Jon Douglas Rainey, a former criminal who began using his skills for good instead of evil. He started warning citizens across the country about just how vulnerable their homes really are. Along with his partner, and fellow reformed burglar, Matt Johnston, Rainey cruised neighborhoods for easy targets. Then, they approached the homeowners about being on the show. If the homeowners agreed, they received a whole-house security makeover - after Rainey realistically exposed their security weak points.

How vulnerable is your home? Jon Rainey knows home security, because he knows how to get around it. Listen to what Rainey says about the best ways to protect your home and family. Here are the top five tips from a reformed burglar:

Tips from a Reformed Burglar: Not Just Any Dog Can Be a "Guard Dog"

In some cases, a barking dog may be all it takes to scare a would-be thief away, because barking draws attention. However, even the loudest, biggest, meanest dog can turn into a whimpering coward when threatened by a stranger, and professional thieves know it. Plus, Rainey keeps his pockets full of dog treats, so he can instantly go from "stranger" to "friend." Don't rely solely on your poor pooch to protect you from criminals.

Tips from a Reformed Burglar: If You Have an Alarm System, Use It

Homes without an alarm system are three times as likely to be targeted than homes with one. But, if you have an alarm system and you don't use it, you might as well not have one at all. Professional thieves stake out their targets to watch their comings and goings. Over half of all burglaries committed on residences occur between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. If thieves see that you never set your alarm when you leave during the day, they'll make a move.

Tips from a Reformed Burglar: Don't Hide Your House Keys in Fake Rocks

By now, thieves have seen it all. They know every nook and cranny where you might hide your spare key - those fake rocks don't trick them anymore. To properly secure a spare key, keep it in a lockbox or with a trusted neighbor. Thieves always look under the mat. If you hide a key near the door, you might as well leave the door wide open.

Tips from a Reformed Burglar: Secure Even the Smallest Windows

When Rainey slipped into a police officer's basement through an unsecured window, the officer's wife angrily glared at the CCTV footage and cried: "'Nobody can fit through that window,' my husband said. 'Nobody.'" Even police officers underestimate the stealth of criminals. In that episode, Rainey was able to steal not only a hand gun and ammunition, but the police officer's uniforms. Just think of how dangerous those items can be in a real criminal's hands. The moral? Secure every entry to your home, even if you are convinced no person could fit through it.

Tips from a Reformed Burglar: Change Your Garage Door Opener Code

Many people don't realize that garage door openers come pre-set with codes that are meant to be changed after they are installed. Plenty of folks just keep the same code right out of the box, totally unaware that all a thief has to do is drive around a neighborhood with a garage door opener, aiming it at every door they see until a door opens. Then they can walk right in and steal expensive lawn equipment or even your car. Worse yet, homeowners may not lock the door leading from the garage to the house, providing a thief easy access to everything.

Approximately two weeks after the show's "victims" got their home-security makeover, Rainey and Johnston and the It Takes a Thief crew would return to the house and try to break again, putting their new security to the test. Shockingly, they succeeded almost 40 percent of the time, thanks to unarmed alarm systems, unlocked doors or windows, or improperly hidden keys. Homeowners can become incredibly lazy when it comes to home security, even after they are shown how easily criminals can get in.

"If you're not serious about security," warns Johnston, "that's making a decision to not be safe. Open your eyes to caring a bit more about your home, possessions, and loved ones."
About the Author
Ralph Winn. 35 years in the Security System industry. Home Security and Alarm Monitoring tips.
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