Q&A: Frank Santamorena ('It Takes a Thief') on Serving the Residential Market

Frank Santamorena, PSP, is back for another season of The Discovery Channel's "It Takes a Thief." Santamorena, who works in Assa Abloy's Integrated Solutions Specialist (ISS) program, proved his mettle in the first season of "It Takes a Thief," using skills he has an ASIS International board certified PSP.

In his duties with ASSA ABBLOY, Santamorena assists top tier integrators on door and door hardware system design and implementation, and he brings that work-a-day expertise to the residential world for the "It Takes a Thief" TV program. The show pits regular homeowners' security measures against a former pro thief to illustrate the weaknesses of home security. Then, once the thief proves how insecure a property really is, Santamorena comes aboard to design security and life safety solutions and to advise the residents on behavioral and procedural changes that can affect security. Then, those changes are implemented at the residence and re-tested against the thief...with success.

The show's new season is in the process of production and will be aired starting in September 2006. According to Santamorena, the show will be starting to blend more commercial/business projects into the programming. It airs on weeknights at 5 p.m. ET/PT. More details on the show are available at The Discovery Channel's "It Takes a Thief" webpage.

SecurityInfoWatch.com caught up with Santamorena on Friday morning as he was getting ready for the "makeover" portion of episode two for the second season (they're shooting 40 episodes). Excerpts of his interview are published below:

SecurityInfoWatch.com: At ASSA ABLOY, you're handling complex, large-scale commercial systems. What's it like to go back to the residential world for "It Takes a Thief"? Is it refreshing?

Santamorena: It's more than refreshing. This is where I started my life. I don't think I was ever just a salesman selling security. I walk into a home and I think of it as my home. When I look at the people who I'm meeting with, I think of them as my wife and my children; I think of them as my family. And when I think of the project, I make sure I put that family first, and not the company I work for.

This isn't about protecting what you have in a home. This is about making sure when you're walking into the home, you're the only one there. Most violent crimes occur when someone walks in on a crime in progress. We know that Murphy's Law happens. A child is coming home in the afternoon, but the parent gets a flat tire on the way back home to meet them. Things go wrong and that's where security systems come in and provide that peace of mind.

SecurityInfoWatch.com: Has your home ever been breached?

Santamorena: No, my home has never been broken into, and I think part of that is that I make sure the sign at the end of my driveway is one from a high-quality company. I want thieves to know I'm using the best and that a break-in attempt means that they will be dealt with by the police. The bad guys do their homework; they know what companies are better.

SecurityInfoWatch.com: Based on your business experience and what you've done with "It Takes a Thief", what would you tell our alarm dealer community about growing their business?

Santamorena: I'd tell them to continue to create relationships. Show up with the bagels and coffees when you meet your clients. It's all about the personal touch. Get involved with community organizations or through the church. Their businesses would grow 10-fold if they established those personal relationships. They would be amazed before they were even half-way through [getting involved in the community].

SecurityInfoWatch.com: Why did they hire you for this second season?

Santamorena: I think there are two reasons I was hired over the other highly recommended names. First is because I was credentialed. I had the board certification from ASIS International. Second, and I think that this was just as important, is that I never compromised. They asked me if I would change something I specified, and I said no. They respected that. I would never compromise a family's security for the cause of making great TV.