Corrections or additions?

This article by Karen Hodges Miller was prepared for the

March 28, 2007 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights


Residential Real Estate Notes

Meet the latest reality TV show star, Hank Grynberg, Ewing

contractor. Well, maybe not exactly a star, but Grynberg

will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Discovery

Channel’s "It Takes a Thief." Grynberg, a partner in the

central New Jersey franchise of Paul Davis Restorations

(609-538-8424), is the contractor who comes in to "fix up

the mess" created by the show’s hosts, Matt Johnston and

Jon Douglas Rainey.

"It was a fun experience," Grynberg says of his day as a

television star. The television show is the latest twist

in the current makeover fad. The hosts, Johnston and

Rainey, are two reformed thieves. They "case" a

neighborhood, pick a home, and then get the homeowners’

permission to test their security.

The owners leave the home and the burglars attempt to

break in. Of course, they always succeed, and once inside,

they give the owners a true taste of just what it feels

like to be burglarized. They don’t just take the valuables

– they rip, tear and break everything in their path. The

shocked homeowners watch on camera as the burglary takes

place, and then are treated to a home security makeover.

That’s where Grynberg stepped in. The episode featuring

Grynberg is scheduled to air on Tuesday, April 3, although

that date is subject to change. Lion Television, the

producers of the show, are always careful not to say

exactly where the show was filmed, as one of the

precautions they take in keeping their selected

homeowners’ identities and addresses a secret. They would

only say that this episode features "a Mercer County


Working on a reality TV show was quite different from the

reality of Grynberg’s job. He and his brother Daniel have

been partners in the franchise since 1994. The firm

focuses on insurance-related restorations, repairing

damage from flood, fire, and on occasion, burglary. The

producers of the "It Takes a Thief" show have worked with

several of the Paul Davis franchises, says Grynberg,

although this was the first time his particular company

has worked with the show.

"There was a lot of standing around and waiting," he says

of his day on the set. "It was different. On a regular job

you don’t wait around four hours to put in four screws on

a lock box and then do it with a TV camera and a half

dozen people looking over your shoulder."

Grynberg didn’t mind the waiting, however. He enjoyed the

excitement of working with a television crew. "I got to

talk with some very interesting people," he says. "People

you don’t normally meet."

Johnston, the show’s host, started committing burglaries

at age 16. After being caught several times, he learned

his lesson and became a tutor for special needs children

before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in

filmmaking. Rainey, who commits the on-screen burglaries,

is a New Jersey native who began his burglary career in

his teens and served time in jail before reforming and

joining the Coast Guard.

"It was interesting to talk with Matt and Jon," says

Grynberg. "Matt is very friendly. Jon was more reserved,

but he really seems to have fun when it’s time to do his

stuff in the house."

Grynberg wasn’t paid by the hour on this job. He was paid

for the costs of materials and traded his labor for the

promotional opportunity for his business. "I talked with

some of the other Paul Davis contractors who worked with

the show. They all said it was a good experience and

recommended that I do it," he says.

After the "break-in" Grynberg installed a number of new

security features in the home, including a more secure

bedroom window and screen, inside wall and floor safes, a

wall-mounted key lock box, outdoor security flood lights

with motion detectors, and door hinges and locks. Grynberg

preaches the same theme as the "It Takes a Thief" show:

Use your locks. The best security system in the world

doesn’t work if it isn’t used. "So many people have

security systems and locks and never use them," he says.

"But thieves are looking for the house that is easy to

break into.

Secure your sliding doors. A "Charlie-bar," a bar designed

to secure a sliding glass door, is an excellent and

inexpensive investment. Sliding doors are one of the

easiest ways to break into a home, because the panels can

be lifted out of the track without breaking the glass. A

Charlie-bar keeps the thief from lifting the panel out,

and forces him to use a messier method, which is often

enough to make him look for another target.

"A thief doesn’t want to break glass," says Grynberg.

"It’s noisy and messy and can easily be noticed."

Look for inexpensive security fixes. It doesn’t have to

cost a fortune to make a home more secure, says Grynberg.

Improved locks on doors and windows and outdoor flood

lights are easy, inexpensive, and effective. Safes are a

good idea if they are bolted from the inside to something

substantial, like the floor, so they can not just be

carried away.

If the "It Takes a Thief" crew is not in your

neighborhood, Grynberg recommends an easy way to test the

security of your home. "Pretend you have locked yourself

out of the house and see how easy it is to break in," he

suggests. A quick walk around the outside of your home may

show some unexpected flaws in your security.

"Don’t leave ladders sitting under windows," he says.

"It’s just an invitation. And large bushes that hide

windows and doorways make it easy for a thief to take his

time in opening a lock."

The "It Takes a Thief" crew also tests the security they

install in a home, as well as the owners’ use of it. After

finishing the upgrades, they return a few weeks later for

a surprise visit to see if they are able to once again

burglarize the home. Grynberg doesn’t yet know if the

security measures he installed have passed the test. He,

like the rest of us, will have to watch the show to find


– Karen Hodges Miller

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