Just like in the movie, “Home Alone,” burglars work overtime during the holidays, watching for the signs that show you are traveling.
Most homeowners know the best defense against these lurking crooks is to make it look like you’re home. But in addition to the tried and true technique of putting a few lights on timers or stopping your newspaper and mail delivery, several new high-tech devices can help, too.
These technology tips, provided by Houzz.com, will help you secure your home while you travel.
1. Don’t Broadcast Your Trip on Social Media
If you post your travel plans or adventures on social media, make sure the posts are private. Public posts are available to friends-of-friends and other strangers and are indexed on search engines. Internet-savvy burglars can simply search certain keywords to find your post and then backtrack to your address.
Most Twitter accounts are set to be public, so unless you are one of the few who specified your account as 'private,' it’s best not to post about your delicious meals, airline delays and hassles, or other typical Tweet-worthy material related to your trip.
If you're on Google+, only send your posts to “Family” and “Friend” circles, rather than “Public” or “Extended Circles.”
Also, do not use location-based sites like Foursquare. A check-in from a different city is a sure sign that you are out of town.
2. Use Your Old Smart Phone as a Security Camera
Security Cameras are an excellent means of keeping your home secure, but can be expensive since they are only needed a couple of times a year.
But there is a solution that is nearly free and eco-friendly: turn your old smart phones and computer tablets into a security system.
It’s relatively easy to do.
First, download an app that uploads pictures when motion is detected. There are several to choose from, for Android and iOS devices. Make sure the app you choose will post the pictures to your Facebook account, set so only you can see them, or send them to you via email. This way, you not only are notified of a break-in, you have pictures of the crooks stored on a device they can’t steal.
The next step is to set up your phone or tablet. Plug-in the device and turn the auto-lock feature to ‘never,’ so it stays on all the time instead of going into hibernation. Point the camera lens toward a door or into the room you want to monitor. Then test the system to make sure it captures the selected areas before you leave town.
3. Controlled Key Access
Often when you’re away, the living occupants of your home – like the fish and plants – need care. Now you can let people in as needed without handing out the key to your house with the Lockitron door lock from Agipy. The Lockitron works like any lock, plus you can operate it remotely using an app.
Not only can you let someone in when you wish to – just as if you were home – you also can send a virtual key over the Internet to the person scheduled to care for your home. The virtual key allows the holder to unlock the door using a smart phone. Plus, the key has an expiration date, so you can control entry to your home on a daily basis. If someone is scheduled to water the plants on Wednesday, then that is the only day the key will work.
Lockitron even has a knock sensor. If someone knocks on your door, you can be notified.
4. Answer the Door from Anywhere
Burglars often pose as delivery people, simply ringing your doorbell to see if anyone answers. Now, with the Edison Junior DoorBot, you can answer your door from anywhere.
It works like this: when the doorbell rings, you are alerted via a smart phone app. The DoorBot’s camera, speaker and microphone enables you to see who is at the door and talk to them using your phone. The visitor will assume you are there, talking to them over an intercom system.
If you have Lockitron installed as well, you can then let the person into your house. Or, if you suspect foul play, you can call the police.
Traveling during the holidays is stressful enough without the added worry of your home being burglarized while you’re away. Consider these simple gadgets as a helpful way to stay worry free about the security of your home sweet home.
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder