My Home Was Burgled: A Real-Life Story

These days, identity theft and personal security expert Robert Siciliano (CEO of Boston-based IDTheftSecurity.com) is much in demand by companies such as KPMG Peat Marwick, Best Western and British Petroleum. But eight years ago, he was just one of many who found their home — and peace of mind — violated by an intruder. Here is Robert’s story:

WHN: Tell us what happened.

Robert: I was in my late 20's when my house was robbed. One of my roommates had left a window open with just a screen on during the day while we were all at work. Someone broke in and went through everything we owned. Fortunately it was a hit-and-run that also provided the perpetrators easy access with minimal damage. They targeted certain drawers and areas, and took as much as they could carry.

WHN: What did you do?

Robert: When I entered the home, I grabbed a bat before securing it. But in retrospect, if it happened today, I would call the police immediately instead of entering the house.

WHN: What was the psychological and emotional impact on you and your roommates?

Robert: Immediately upon arriving home and seeing the screen cut and removed, I instantly got chills and felt sick. I had always felt we were being watched and that instant confirmed my beliefs. Later, my roommates and I fought amongst ourselves and blamed each other for what happened. While the thieves didn't get a whole lot of monetary items, they robbed us of our sense of personal security.

WHN: What did you do afterward — and what do you do now — to feel more safe and secure?

Robert: We installed a home alarm after the event. And I personally have had a home alarm in every place I've lived since then. My wife and I use it religiously—when we are out of the house as well as at night. We are also very careful to lock the doors even when we are home. People think that locking your doors and having an alarm is paranoia, but it’s not. It’s being smart —taking control and practicing proactive security instead of being a victim.

WHN: What else did you do? Robert: I've read numerous books, watched videos and have taken the best self defense classes. Self defense classes that teach life-saving skills give a person an enormous amount of life perspective. And I have German shepherd dogs to protect my family while I'm home and away.

WHN: What was the most important thing you learned as a result of this experience?

Robert: Crime can happen to anyone any time. It’s not a matter of “if — it’s “when.” And it will happen to those who appear to be the path of least resistance for criminals.

Updated: 5/2009