21.06.2019, by Imke van der Sanden
The summer holidays are approaching, and while we start packing our bags, ready to leave for our summer destination, we often leave our homes vulnerable to burglary. Of course we do some things to prevent our home from looking completely abandoned. We ask the neighbours to get our mail, water our plants and some people even leave a light on the timer in order for the house to not be completely dark after sunset. Perhaps one of the most creative methods I have ever heard of, was someone who left their vacuum cleaner in the middle of their living room as well as some empty glasses on the coffee table before going on their holiday, so it appeared to outsiders looking in that someone was busy cleaning the house, and the house was not completely abandoned for days at a time. All good ideas with good intentions, but this is 2019, surely there is some kind of tech available that could make our empty homes seem less appealing to those with ill intentions aside from the burglar alarm?
Honey, I’m Home!
The first thing you want to do (besides from locking every door and window in the house) is to try and make it seem like you never left. There are the old tricks in the book like: keeping your blinds open, get someone to collect your mail, ask neighbours to take your rubbish out on bin day and keep some lights on. But instead of leaving the lights on 24/7, opt for investing in a smart plug. Smart plugs can turn on and off a lamp on a set or varied schedule. Or even better, get a three-pack and turn on their ‘Away’ mode, this will cause your lights to randomly turn on and off in set periods to simulate an occupied home even better. Home Advisor even encourages people to turn down your doorbell volume and to invest in a battery operated radio, to create some noise. Seeing as many burglars ring the doorbell or knock to see if anyone is home before breaking in. Turning down your doorbell in combination with a loud radio will make burglars unsure if the residents are not home or simply did not hear the doorbell.
Another gadget that could help you keep your home safe, is a smart doorbell. One of the most popular and advanced smart doorbells out there is the Ring Video Doorbell 2, which will make your front door digitally connected, providing smartphone notifications, allowing two-way communication as well as capturing everyone who comes to your door on video. With this smart device you are always able to ‘answer’ your door, keep an eye on who rang your doorbell and even have the option to communicate with them. Make sure you have a light on at the front door as this is important for capturing good images, especially in the dark. Would you like to read some more tips and tricks about smart doorbells? Pocket-lint wrote an article about how to ‘become the ultimate ringmaster’.
Of course burglars do not always come through the front door. They look for ‘weak’ spots to enter. This is where installing security cameras in and around your home comes in handy, and does a great job of dissuading potential burglars. Wirecutter reviewed the best outdoor security cameras, and helps you select a security camera that fits you and your home best. Besides only installing cameras outdoors, getting a motion-sensing camera for inside is a great additional feature. It will alert you every time someone crosses its path. Because security cameras can be quite expensive, people sometimes opt to use dummy cameras, hoping to dissuade burglars. And whereas that may work, experts on the topic say that it is better to install a real camera, stating that the dummy “could give you a false sense of security”.
We have all been locked out of our house before. So naturally people started to come up with solutions: the hidden key under the doormat, plant or fake sprinkler head. However these are the first places burglars look! Because what is even easier than breaking into a home? Walking in through the front door. A smart lock lets you (or the neighbour taking care of your plants) open the door with a keypad, finger scan or smartphone device, without the need of a physical key.
And although it may be hard in this digital age, where we feel the need to share every second of our lives on social media, especially when we are away. Sharing that picture of you at the beach, on top of that mountain, or at the farmers market in France may be cute for your social media accounts, but remember that burglars have access to the internet too. And while you think you are showing the world the amazing time you are having on vacation, you are actually marketing to burglars how your home is going to be empty for a while. So perhaps wait with posting all of your holiday pictures, until you have returned to a peaceful and undisturbed home.
Burglary might never be eliminated from society (perhaps ever). Every single person and every home can fall victim to it. And although these smart devices and basic tips cannot prevent burglars from entering your home, they could make your home a little less appealing towards those with ill intentions. So hopefully you get to keep that undisturbed and peaceful vibe from your vacation for just a little while longer.