Prevent Break-ins This Holiday Season

This holiday season, the last thing you want to worry about are thieves breaking into your home. Since a burglary takes place nearly every 18 seconds in the United States, totaling nearly 5,000 a day, keeping your loved ones and your material belongings out of a criminal’s hands has never been more important.

This is especially prevalent during the holidays when many families are traveling and may have stocked up on big-ticket items for the gift-giving season.

Given that knowledge, it can be extremely stressful and overwhelming to consider the possibility of a break-in this busy time of year. The good news is, the more you learn about what’s possible in the realm of home security, the more content you’ll feel. According to a report from the University of North Carolina, about 60 percent of convicted burglars reported stated that the presence of a security system directly impacted their decision to target another home.

Additional reporting has shown that a significant number of burglars gain access to homes through open or unlocked entryways, particularly on the first floor- and 34 percent of burglars actually enter through the front door itself. However they force entry, would-be burglars definitely aren’t shy, which means that these primary egresses are the first line of defense for any home security system.

The emergence of home security systems

Historical data shows a steady spike in property crime throughout the 60s and 70s which began to decline in the 90s. Though this can be attributed to varying levels of crime impacting a particular community over time, many experts argue that increased access to affordable home security systems greatly decreased the number of home burglaries over the last quarter century.

It’s important not to let relative safety, especially in mere appearance, lead to complacency. Even though property crime has reached its lowest point in over 50 years, according to the most recent crime statistics, leaving your home defenseless can have adverse effects not just on you, but on your neighbors in the surrounding community. Since suburban homes are more likely to be burglarized than any other community, having security systems in place can deter would-be burglars from victimizing the community at large.

The IoT & smart homes

The Internet of Things (or IoT), refers to physical devices that connect to the internet independent of one another, that are able to collect data and share it. These devices are effectively “communicating” with one another in a digital network. Whether it’s via Bluetooth or WiFi, you can use IoT gadgets to do everything from brewing the perfect cup of coffee or ordering something you’ve just run out of with a voice command.

Most homes have a certain degree of “smart” to them since modern appliances tend to have built-in electronic controls these days. Even an adjustable thermostat is an example of basic automation, but all of those elements alone don’t add up to a true smart home. Smart homes take the IoT concept a bit further by incorporating a centralized network that controls, security, temperature, lighting,  and various appliances and entertainment devices, or lighting fixtures. It’s like having a virtual butler that constantly monitors the state of your home, and adjusts various aspects of your environment due to specifications you set and differing circumstances.

Smart home automation can handle tasks like automatically raising and lowering blinds to filter in light, switching off lights to conserve energy. They can detect movement to trigger a  subsequent security alert on your phone, or simply switch on music in different rooms as you walk through your home.

One of the biggest lures of a smart home system is security. Especially during the holidays, making your home seem lived in and impenetrable to unwanted attention will give you the peace of mind you need to get away and enjoy your time spent with family and loved ones.

Smart home security

With all the options out there, it can be hard to decipher exactly which system is right for your home.

  • Self-monitored Vs. professionally monitored- Some people prefer to have the comfort of a third party monitoring service keeping an extra pair of eyes on security features like alarms, glass break sensors, and other systems. It can be helpful to know there’s someone on the other end of the line who can contact authorities if you need help. However, there’s also a large class of people for whom autonomy is key. Some people prefer to have total control over their smart home security and are comfortable keeping tabs on wireless security cameras, door locks, sensors, and other components whether they are in the home itself or monitor through a smartphone app.
  • DIY installation Vs. professional installation- The same principle applies here as in the above. Some smart home systems are easy to install alone, and depending on the IoT gadgets you’re interested in, it might be preferable to buy and install yourself, especially if you’re more tech savvy and are looking for a highly customizable experience. On the other hand, having a professional install your system minimizes the possibility for costly human error and can bring up additional questions or concerns that otherwise would have gone unanswered.
  • Security and appliance packages- Depending on your priorities, you might only be interested in smart security, but automation can extend to every appliance, fixture, and interconnected device in the home if you wish. Some can find all the gadgets overwhelming, but others prefer to have localized control over every aspect of the home, including a security system.

How smart security keeps you safe

Whatever type of system you use, automating your home security has many benefits for the relative safety of your family and possessions. We took a look at our top four, below!

1. You’re immediately alerted to any disturbance

No longer will you come home, unwittingly, to broken glass and missing valuables. In the event of a break-in, you’ll be notified of the disturbance whether you’re there or not, usually in the form of a smartphone text or call. If you’ve chosen to monitor your home independently, you can take steps to check on your property before calling in any authorities; or have a professional monitoring service dispatch any needed emergency personnel on your behalf. In many cases, even if your security control hub is smashed or your phone line destroyed, a security system can still get the message out.

2. You can manage any comings and goings

Even if they’re not there to rob you, chances are you’ll have people knocking on your door when you’re not there. Having awareness of visitors to your property gives you a sense of safety when things are going right, and also enables you to coordinate appointments at the home with the push of a button. You can monitor when your children get dropped off from school every day, and let in contractors, babysitters, and even guests from anywhere.

3. You can anticipate natural threats

Burglars aren’t the only thing that can compromise the integrity of your home. Smoke, carbon monoxide, and flooding can all put a damper on the holidays. Using a smart system enables a homeowner to monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as receive alerts due to weather emergencies and enable you to handle each obstacle as it comes.  The more lived-in and responsive your home appears to threats like these, the less appealing it will seem to a criminal.

4. You can minimize getting locked out

Many homeowners hide spare keys in accessible places outside their property in the event that they lock themselves out. Of course, “accessible” means that it can be found by anyone. Burglars are especially good at finding all the clever hiding spots you could ever dream of. By incorporating smart locks, which can be opened via security codes or controlled with your mobile device, you can minimize the risk of getting locked out. Additionally, removing the need for a key ends up leaving would-be burglars out in the cold.

Pros and cons of smart home security

As with any potential home investment, there’s always a tradeoff. Smart home security systems, while effective, are not infallible. In recent years, there have been rumblings of concern for more sophisticated criminals hacking into home networks and stealing confidential user data like contact information and payment details. Internet-based services require a lot of research. You want to make sure your home wireless network is secure, that all software is up to date, and you invest in devices from companies whose reputation you trust.

The pros, beyond what is itemized above and throughout this post, are the things you can’t put a price tag on: safety, security, and comfort. In the grand scheme of things, if a real-life Grinch came into your home and stole all your gifts, you would naturally be upset about the loss of your material goods, but what some victims find most upsetting about a break-in is the violation of their private property and the potential risk of harm to their family’s safety. Having a security system that is able to report in real time and preside over your household even when you’re away is worth its weight in gold. For more info on home security, visit our home automation blog.

 

Contributed by Sara Carter, Co-Founder of Enlightened-Digital