Burglars secrets: Are you a target?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert, Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Local 2 Investigates enlisted the help of ex-convict Bob Portenier to show you how thieves choose homes to break into, what they take and how easily they can get in and out in minutes.

VIDEO: Part I | Part II | Part III

Portenier served eight years in prison back in the 1980s for armed robbery. He said he burglarized more than 100 homes in Kansas and Colorado over several years. After he did his time, Portenier decided to use the only skills he had to teach others how to protect themselves from crooks.

It took Portenier just over three minutes to break into a home we choose in Oak Forest, a subdivision just outside the loop in northwest Houston. The homeowner played along, eager to learn how she can make her home more secure from thieves.

Here are some of the tips Portenier gave as we walked through the home:

  • Desks are usually a¬†bonanza for thieves, filled with checkbooks, credit cards that haven't been activated, passports and extra cash. Portenier said he used to take just one checkbook out of a box of checks so that the owner might not notice the checks were missing. He recommended securing these items in a safe that is bolted to a wall or the floor in your home.

  • Portenier said most people hide their valuable property in the same spots. Handguns are usually under a mattress or a nightstand drawer in the master bedroom. He said long guns and rifles are usually found in the closet of the master bedroom. While you may want to keep a weapon close by while you're home, Portenier said you should lock the guns in a safe when you're away.

  • There were two laptops sitting out that Portenier grabbed. He said these days thieves would take the computers to get any financial information they could glean from your hard drive then sell the laptops. This is why you should protect your computers with a password so that even if thieves boot it up, they can't immediately get to your private information.

  • The only reason thieves check out your bathroom is for prescription drugs they can take or sell. You may want to keep these in a different spot.

  • When it comes to hiding valuables like jewelry and cash, Portenier said you should think of places crooks wouldn't. For example, thieves rarely go through kitchen cupboards.

Local 2 Investigates went shopping with Portenier. We asked Portenier to pick out what he believes are "home security essentials. Our total bill at Home Depot rang up at $550.64 before tax. Keep in mind we bought more than one of some of the items.

Bob's list:

  • Schlage Double Cylinder Deadbolt... $56.97

  • Defender Security Solid Brass Lock and Door Reinforcer... $12.44

  • Defender Security Brass Maximum Security Combination Strike... $11.97

  • Defender Security 200-degree Door View (peephole)... $9.97

  • Defender Security Patio Door Security Bar... $12.97

  • Sentry Safe Professional Series 1.2 cubic-foot electronic and key lock safe... $229.00

  • Doberman Security Ultra-thin Window Alarm... $9.99

  • GE 15 Amp 7-Day Plug-In Dual-Outlet Digital Timer... $14.98

If you have a news tip or question for KPRC Local 2 Investigates, drop them an e-mail or call their tipline at (713) 223-TIPS (8477). Copyright 2012 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.