November 22, 2007

WSJ: Home invasions target wealthy

The Wall Street Journal reports that the higher-profile rich are being targeted for home invasion robberies:

One reason for the rise in home invasions is demographic: The numbers of rich people with homes to plunder has risen fast in recent years. But police and security experts say robbers are hitting homes more because their traditional targets -- banks, stores and offices -- have been hardened with closed-circuit video surveillance, alarms and guards. By comparison, security at many private homes remains lax, they say.

Increasingly, wealthy and high-profile individuals must step up security at home and be vigilant in their cars to avoid becoming victims, security experts and police say. They may also need to reduce the amount of information they reveal about themselves on the Internet in places like Facebook, and in the media. And perhaps most importantly, they should thoroughly investigate the background of anyone who has access to their home, because many robberies are inside jobs.
Several security and alarm experts say crimes like these can be prevented with a perimeter motion-detection system that sounds whenever someone drives or walks onto a property. Many alarm systems wire only the doors and windows of a home; the problem with that, security experts say, is that by the time someone trips the alarm, it can be too late. Moreover, any alarm system has to be armed to work, and often, they aren't.

Home-invasion robbers also pick their victims by staking them out in public and following them home.

Police and security experts say that to avoid this type of robbery, people should be alert to whether they are being followed before driving onto their property, and if they are, to call the police or drive to a police station. Houses should be well-lighted with automatic exterior lights. Additionally, security experts advise clients to avoid drawing attention to money and possessions while they're out and about. They also recommend reducing the amount of detailed personal information that can be found on the Web.

While at home, it is a mistake to open the door without verifying the identity of a visitor first and to accept unscheduled deliveries. Security experts say homes should be equipped with a voice-video intercom system with cameras trained on the doors and the grounds, and deliveries should be sent to a post-office box or family office instead of to the residence.

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