Summertime, and the living is easy — especially for burglars.
While you're out of town chasing the sun, it's easier for thieves to case your house for a quick plunder. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, burglaries are around 10% more likely in the summer than in the winter, a number that makes sense when you think of people leaving windows and patio doors open to let in the fresh air. Unfortunately, they also give bad guys good opportunities to get in and out.
Technology will rarely stop a bad guy from breaking into your place. But are six ways that smart home devices can either scare them off or alert you to a burglary in progress.
Keep tabs on who's coming and going
Web security cameras are getting smarter all the time, and the Netatmo Welcome is on its way to becoming brilliant. About the size of a pepper mill, this cylindrical camera has subtle styling, so it looks at home on an entryway table. And that's the ideal placement for it, because its facial recognition technology can tell you when the kids are home from school or when a stranger has entered your home. But the $199 device is more than just a camera. It also works as a hub for the optional $99 Netatmo Tags, sensors that send your smartphone alerts when windows, doors, or gates (yes, they work outside) open and close.
Watch those blind spots
Outdoor cameras can be great for seeing who's coming into your home, but burglars don't typically walk through the front door. Instead they inspect your place for blind spots where they can slip in undetected. Netgear's Arlo Wire-Free Security System is a good solution for making sure all your hard-to-see nooks are being monitored.
A battery-powered, wireless camera that can last from four to six months before having to replace its power cells, the Arlo cameras are magnetically mounted, have adjustable motion detection, shoot high-definition video, and even sport infrared night vision — exactly what you need to keep an eye out for bad guys. Starting at $179 for a kit that includes a base station and one camera, the system can support to up to 15 cameras, which can be bought for $159 apiece.
Shine a light on bell-ringers
Before breaking into a home, burglars will often knock or ring the bell to see if somebody's home. But you don't have to answer the door to scare them off — just turning on a light is often enough to make them move on. And with BeON LED Bulbs, you don't even need to be home to flick a switch.
Starting at $199 for a set of three, these connected bulbs can perform a lot of neat tricks, including learning your lighting schedule to turn your lamps on and off even when you're not home. And with an embedded microphone that can be trained to detect a doorbell, their most security-minded feat is turning the lights on when it hears that familiar ding-dong.
Check the door from afar
With several ways to unlock the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt, you'd think burglars would love it. But with a built-in alarm ready to scare them off, the $229 Apple HomeKit-compatible lock is a great way to scare off thieves if they decide to kick the door in. Taking a key and a keycode, and opening via Siri or the Schlage Sense app, the Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt comes in a satin nickel or matte black finish to keep the look of the lock consistent with most handle sets. And through HomeKit, you can set up a "goodnight Siri" scene that will ensure your door is locked and lights are off, when you slide into bed. Talk about sleeping safe and sound.
Ensure the shed is safe
Often overlooked, and usually full of valuable items, sheds can also benefit from some connected upgrades. For instance, the Master Lock Wide Bluetooth Smart Padlock is not only a hearty shackle with anti-shim technology, it can also send tamper alerts when someone starts fiddling with it. Unlocking with a touch when an authorized Bluetooth device (your smartphone) is in range (or a directional combination pad, when none are around), the $89 weather resistant lock connects to a smartphone app that features military-grade encryption. That's not just for fending off hackers and burglars — if your neighbor wants to borrow your lawnmower, you can add them as a guest in the app, and they can unlock the Smart Padlock with their phone instead.
Shy away from cameras with a motion sensor
Cameras can be great for catching crooks in your home, but not everyone is comfortable living in a surveilled space. The SmartThings Motion Sensor, available for $40 or as part of the $249 SmartThings Home Monitor Kit (which includes the required SmartThings Hub), can provide smartphone alerts when a room sees some unexpected action. Great for home security or keeping the teens out of the liquor cabinet, the Motion Sensor can even be paired with connected lights to make your home more energy efficient — or to scare a burglar who thinks the lights are off and no one's home.