To alert people that allowing strangers (such as home improvement companies, cleaning services, etc) in their home can be dangerous and requires taking precautions.
My wife and I had saved up a long time to be able to remodel our kitchen. We wanted to find a home improvement company that was trustworthy. When I looked over the Jericho Home Improvement website, I saw the CEO pictured with open arms. It seemed welcoming. They described an easy process with an in-home design consultation, a project manager and they talked about their professional staff.
I read their website closely. They said their employees were drug screened and background checked. They also said their employees were conscientious and careful not to disturb other areas of our home.
That sounded just like what we needed. My wife and I work and we didn’t have time to babysit someone working on our house. The sales person who was doing the “In-Home Design Consultation” said 75% of their customers would let them into their homes when they were away. There was a calming answer for every concern I presented. The only part that was not calming was the hard sell at the end. We were told that if we signed up during the in home consultation, they would give a 10% discount on the estimate. We went for it thinking… this is one of the biggest home improvement companies in Kansas City… what could go wrong.
The project was supposed to take weeks… it took months. The quality of the work was average. We provided them with a list of quality defects when we paid for the job… they didn’t correct the issues.
Fortunately, the job was mostly finished when their employee decided to go through our paperwork and other rooms of the house. The only reason I looked at the security camera videos was because my wife had been looking all over for her credit card. She never loses anything. She said it was left on a side table upstairs. After the third time she looked for it, my wife asked me to check the security videos. It was shocking and looked unreal. I couldn’t believe someone would go through my house. Our trust was destroyed. We don’t let others in our house when we are away.
The police told me when I was describing the incident that they were pretty sure that a case would not be opened for it. When I showed them the videos, they immediately called in for a case number. When the police reviewed the phone of the identified Jericho Home Improvement employee, they found that he had taken photos of our tax documents. His phone had a history of this type of activity against others as well. He had been doing this at multiple homes and the only reason he was caught was because I turned him in.
I called the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. They took the complaint and filed it away where nobody would see it. When I called back a month later and requested a list of complaints on Jericho Home Improvement, it was like pulling teeth. They reluctantly sent me a list of complaints. Our complaint wasn’t even on the list. I asked how Jericho got such a high rating with the Better Business Bureau. They said the rating is weighted on how long the business has been a “member” of the Better Business Bureau. I called them back and asked why my complaint was not listed. They said they would look into it and never called me back. I have since researched the Better Business Bureau and found that lots of websites list complaints about the legitimacy of the BBB. They lost my trust.
After a few months, I decided to call Jericho Home Improvement. The person I spoke with was empathetic. He said that the employee was fired. That gave me a sense of some justice. However, when I mentioned that they should encourage the residents to be in their homes when their employees are working… they disagreed. They said that most people work full time and don’t have the ability to be home when they are working on their kitchen or bath. He seemed a little surprised that I had video cameras in my house and noted that he does not have them in his house.
Home Improvement Gone Bad
Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Home
Have a meeting with your family about what to do in scary situations. It might be a fire, natural disaster, or even a burglary. Everyone including the kids need to be in the habit of locking the doors and windows. It's a good habit that can be a lifesaver. Don't open the door to uninvited guests. Keep the garage door closed and locked.
With the dropping cost of security cameras, it's easy to set these up both inside and outside of your home. They have a variety of features ranging from: motion sensing, infrared recording, remote recording, alerts to your phone, alarms in your home, etc. Basically, whatever you want in a security camera is available and prices keep dropping. You might also consider motion sensors and smart lightbulbs.
Ask a member of your family or a close friend to go through your house and have them write down all of the sensitive information they spot or valuables they are able to find. This will highlight how easy it is for others to get what they want from your home. Then think creatively on where you can hide your valuables and confidential information where it would be more difficult to find. There are wall safes, fake books for jewelry, etc.
This is more expensive in the long run over setting up your own cameras or smart home. However, it's more convenient for those who do not want to bother with setting up smart home devices.
Keep the keys to your house with you and family. Don't leave them in an outdoor location for easy access. The same applied to garage door remote controls.
If you hire a security company that's one way to get this. Another way is to buy a security-company sign, put it in front of your house. Put up security window stickers near key entry ways. Sometimes a Guard Dog sign can be added safety.
You can install outdoor lighting with motion sensors. If you put motion sensing lights close to points of entry, it will help keep costs down and serve as an alert.
If you don't want to invest in a security company or a smart home, use timers for lights when you're away. You can create the impression that someone is home by having lights turn on/off at certain times.
If your bushes are too tall or crowded, you’re providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar. Keep the outside of your house well groomed and (as mentioned earlier) lit up at night. When you plan to be away, ask a close friend or neighbor you trust to pick up your newspaper.
Some police departments provide complimentary home inspections. This is when an officer will go through your home and recommend simple security improvements. If you feel your home has been robbed or have evidence of a crime, report it immediately.