Neighbors provide info for burglar to pick target

HOUSTON - A former burglar shared inside knowledge to teach others how to not become a crime victim. He went door-to-door in a Houston neighborhood with Local 2 Investigates and a hidden camera, and the information neighbors told him was enough for him to pick a potential target.

They searched for "for sale" signs and talked to residents about the neighborhood to see how much people would tell a total stranger.

"Are there a lot of people around during the day?" Local 2 investigative reporter Robert Arnold asked a stranger.

"Sometimes -- it's off and on. But if you walk out on the street, there's usually not a lot of people, to be honest with you," a man said.

In less than 10 minutes, the man told Robert about his family, his schedule, which houses have single moms, families, business owners and elderly residents.

"(That's) way, way, way too much information on the neighborhood," said Bob Portenier.

Portenier was a professional thief who spent eight years in prison before he became a security consultant.

"He would tell me who's home during the day, who's vulnerable for a break-in and wouldn't be able to resist," he said.

At another house, the resident was not nearly as forthcoming, but still provided some information on who lives where in the neighborhood.

"What would your suggestion be, should you open the door?" Arnold asked Portenier.

"I'd say, 'Call a Realtor and he can tell you everything you need to know,'" Portenier said.

At the third house Arnold visited, the resident never opened the door.

"That's exactly what she should have done because she was obviously home alone," Portenier said. "Trust your instincts and never give out information about your neighbors to anyone, ever."

Portenier said the last statement bears repeating -- if you feel at all uncomfortable about a person knocking on your door, don't open it. Talk to the person through the door to let them know somebody is home. Many times, a thief will randomly knock on doors to determine who is home and who is not.

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