Christmas time is a time for families to spend time together. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and all that. So you might think that home security is something that can take a back seat, since even burglars have homes and families who want to see them at Yuletide.
Or so you might think. The reality is that while burglaries increase over the summer, they also spike around Christmas time. Because extended families like to get together households will be on the move as they do the round robin, paying visits to mum, dad, grandparents, then the inlaws, making a surprising number of properties empty all day for several days in a row. And because all the attention is focused inwards, people are less aware of what’s happening in the gloomy, rainy, cold streets where they live.
Christmas also means outings and shopping trips which can drag on for hours. This gives unwanted visitors ample time to observe your home and chance their arm if they’re confident you’re tied up elsewhere.
And your home will offer rich pickings too. All your old property, and all the presents under the tree too, make Christmas a bonanza for intruders. So how can you use basic every day tech to make your home safer?
Most burglaries don’t happen at night. Burglars are less likely to break in when they think the homeowner will be home, so it follows that they’ll break in between the hours of 6am and 6pm. However, in winter, this still means that the house will be shrouded in darkness for hours. Smart lighting can be set to come on when light dips below a certain level, and off again after a few hours.
Working in conjunction with the lighting, smart plugs can be used to activate devices when the lights come on and go off. Be that side lamps, radios, TV sets, electronic devices coming on and off at random times are far more convincing evidence of occupation than just leaving lights and a TV on all day.
CCTV And Security Lighting
CCTV cameras are an amazingly effective deterrent, so long as they not only work, but are seen to be working. Briant Communications offer a range of different CCTV cameras which work in tandem with security lights and access control systems. Many modern devices also have speakers and mics so you can actually speak to anyone on your property. They might have a perfectly legitimate reason to be calling, so being able to chat with people you can see clearly lets you be friendly, as well as warding off potential break-ins.
Because they’re wireless, it’s a no brainer to add additional cameras to sheds, garages and outbuildings to keep them safe too. And with ‘If This Then That’ technology you can link the motion detectors to security lights, recordings of dogs barking, interior lighting, or a radio turning off, an obvious sign that someone is home, and listening out for suspicious noises.
Indoor Security Cameras
Technically there’s no law against people coming onto your property, but once they break in it’s a different story. With cameras inside your home you can capture evidence of the crime being committed, get alerted and call the police with a single tap. Again, using in-built mics and speakers you can tell the intruder that the police have been called and it will go easier on them if they stop what they’re doing.
Smart Security Guard
If you don’t have security cameras outside you can still use devices such as Alex to watch over your home. Tell it to guard and it can listen out for the sound of breaking glass, fire, smoke or CO alarms. When it hears them it can set off a recording of a dog barking, send you an alert straight to your phone. If you tell Alexa to guard the house it can also turn lights on and off randomly for the appearance that someone is in.
Keep Your Activities Private
It’s so easy to leak data online, details that you wouldn’t think twice about sharing with your friends and family which is also extremely useful for burglars. It’s natural to share info about your plans, your itinerary and all the stuff you got from each family member on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s all part of the fun these days. But who else can see what you’re posting? You can trust your real friends and family, but what about ‘Facebook friends’ that you’ve never met and don’t actually know? We’ve all got them, but we don’t really know anything about them. You might have shared a picture of your house months ago, and then post pictures of yourself on vacation at Christmas. Tie those two tiny snippets of information together and Bingo, a burglar knows where you live and that the house is unoccupied.
If you’re going away for longer than just a day, it could be worth thinking about a house sitter. Letting a complete stranger into your home as a security measure may seem counter intuitive, but the reality is, most people are still eminently trustworthy! And when you consider that not finding space is something of a Christmas tradition, dating right back to the very first one, giving a room to a stranger is more than just practical! With so many people on the move, it’s natural that some of your neighbours will be pressed for space. Letting some of their visitors make use of your home means you’re doing them a favour, you know all about how to contact them if anything gets damaged, and you get the warm fuzzy feeling from knowing that you’ve really helped a neighbour out.
It’s incredibly obvious, but you need to make sure all your doors and windows are locked. If you’ve got a family of any appreciable size it’s possible for people to slip in and out all day without ever shutting the doors properly, and security can easily be overlooked. You might make the assumption that someone else was the last one out and that they locked up behind them. But, as in any security situation, if you’re going to make an assumption, always assume it HASN’T been done, and check it yourself. Twice.
Forward The Mail
One of the ways you can let on that you’re away from home is a pile of mail inside the door. Delivery guys turning up and going away again leaving a parcel in a safe place or not delivering it at all will also be a giveaway that you’re not in. If you’re expecting any large packages or items you might need to sign for, get them delivered to your work instead. Nobody minds, and it means that your mail is safe, not only from thieves, but from prying eyes of the people you’ve been buying presents for.