10 Tips to Prevent ‘Deception Burglaries’


A deception burglary is when a person posing as an government official, police officer, firefighter, company employee, delivery person, utility worker, construction worker or a distressed individual uses a ruse based on his or her "character" to get inside a person's home due to an ostensible inspection, safety issue, package drop-off or other lie. Imposters may have uniforms or badges that look like the gas company, water company, electric company, or delivery service such FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service or any other recognizable organization. Often, they work in pairs; once they are inside, one criminal distracts you while the other raids your jewelry box.

A number of years ago I did this on The Montel Williams Show. (Watch the video here.) The "burglary" was unfortunately simple to do. I rang doorbells at different homes while standing in the doorway with a clipboard and tape measure and wearing a tool belt and jumpsuit. I had identification saying I was from the water company. Each homeowner answered the door and said, "Hello, how can I help you?" and I'd say I was with the water company and needed to come inside to check their water. The scam worked 100 percent of the time with little resistance. With each door I knocked on, the person gave me access. Even when people were a resistant, I still got in with a little persistence.

When the doorbell rings or someone knocks:

  1. Stay inside and don't walk out onto the porch.
  2. Don't open the door; keep it locked. Keep the screened door locked, too.
  3. There's rarely, if ever, a need to invite anyone inside your home regardless of his or her reasons. Simply don't invite anyone in for any reason.
  4. Always communicate through the peephole or windowlets.
  5. Verify the visitor's identification by looking at it, then calling a supervisor with a phone number provided by 411 or the internet.
  6. Compile a list of phone numbers for utilities and delivery services and keep it handy.
  7. Never provide personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account numbers.

If you feel a scam or violent act is about to happen:

  1. Grab your mobile phone and call 911.
  2. Head toward the back door to escape if necessary.
  3. Press the "panic" button on your home security system.