Going on a much-needed vacation? In order to properly enjoy yourself, you need to know your home is secure. You can set your lights on timers, and get a neighbour to check in every evening and collect your post, but technology can vastly improve the security of your house.
need a vacation asap pic.twitter.com/VI9vX6nupH
— nature art (@radnature) July 15, 2016
Buying smart tech, however, can be costly business, and let’s face it, you want to keep as much cash as possible as spending money. Here are a few items that can secure your home but won’t break your bank account.
You know when Harry in Home Alone points out to Marv as each house lights up? While setting your lights on a timer is a good basic tactic to make your home look occupied, this is the sort of thing thieves expect. Apart from being predictable, it’s not accurate to how your house looks at night either.
The vast majority of us kick back in an evening and watch whatever’s on Netflix and that casts different light patterns into a room — especially noticeable if you don’t typically have a lamp on at the same time.
That’s where the Fake TV comes in. It’s a compact, simple device that simulates the effects of a real HDTV, with a couple of variations available depending on the size television you’re trying to emulate. With a timer that further detects when the night is drawing in, it chases through different light sequences, and uses as little electricity as a simple night light.
You can typically find a Fake TV unit for just over $20, and it’s not only handy for when you’re on vacation: if you’re home alone, you can make more rooms look occupied, putting off any opportunists.
Your door mat might say “welcome,” but that’s not the invitation you want to give to thieves. A pressure door mat is a thin, sensitive pad that fits neatly under a larger mat and will set off an alarm if someone stands on it.
That alarm — emitted from a small plastic unit linked by wire 10-20 m away from the mat — is an astonishing 105 dB, which is about the same volume as a bass drum, most motorcycles or a power saw. It’ll sound for 30 seconds, more than enough to scare away a burglar. While you can place it outside (it’s typically resistant to temperature and changeable weather conditions), it’s ideal for porches, so only intruders actually set it off.
Alternatively, if you’re at home, you can set it to “Chime,” a 90 dB bell to alert you to visitors.
It also has a further purpose for pet owners: you can put it by the back door to let you know when your dog or cat needs to go outside. Naturally, there’s an off switch too, in case you get fed up of being constantly alerted when your dog or cat wanders across it!
Failing that, you could just use one motion detector by the front door.
Doberman Security has become a trusted name for household, office, and even sporting security, but this slim unit stands out as being smart, cost-effective, and useful beyond your time away from home. It’s a reliable device that uses infrared to detect any movement within 15 ft., and 60° vertically and horizontally.
Two things make this detector particularly impressive: the alarm — it’s 100 dB, which is about the same as a pneumatic drill, more than enough to wake an entire household if need be — and its ease of use. It uses a 9-volt battery, and takes 30 seconds for the alarm to set itself up. And that’s it.
If you need to, however, it can also be mounted to the wall, so if you’re worried a thief could spot it, simply affix it above the door so it goes off whenever motion is detected.
Of course, the door isn’t the only way a thief can get into your property: fortunately, these convenient and discreet alarms fit to windows as well as doors.
Each unit comes in two pieces, one of which you fix to a frame and the other you attach to the actual window or door. Their strong magnetic pull clips them together and an alarm sounds if that connection is broken. It’s a 120dB high-pitched alarm that’ll make all intruders panic, but also comes with a quieter chime if you want to use it on the door.
They come in packs of two or four, priced between $10 and $20, available online or from your nearest Walmart, so these are an affordable option if you use them only on windows you think are the easiest and most likely entry points for thieves. Other models come in packs of six or ten, but their quality seems to vary widely with some complaints coming from the adhesive used not being strong enough, while others say not all of them work.
Sometimes, all you need to protect your home is a show of strength, and you can count on this thick steel bar to resist
It’s an incredibly simple idea, but that’s to its advantage: there’s not a great deal of setting up to do, as it uses the same principle as a door wedge. The top fits neatly under a door handle; the bottom is placed at roughly a 70° angle against the floor. Basic physics tells you that’s a tough combination.
The bar’s adjustable so it should fit all doors, including your back door. Discreet entrances are more likely to attract criminals, and anyway, you’ll need to use the front door to get back in yourself! Bear in mind that it does work better on hard floor than carpets — don’t worry: each end is padded so shouldn’t damage your floor — and, for peace of mind, you might want to replace the pin that comes as standard. A slightly thicker steel bolt will be less breakable than the one supplied.
Arguably, it’s most useful on patio doors. Just place it horizontally in the recess, and the door won’t slide open; a thief’s more likely to break the handle than get inside your home.
Real cameras, including any that come with a smartphone app for mobile observation (including ones that utilize your PC), can be costly, so if your budget is limited, why not try a dummy CCTV system? While a full CCTV kit can set you back upwards of $200, you can generally pick up a convincing dummy camera for less than $10. A pack of four should be less than $30.
That’s the key though: it has to be convincing. The surroundings, size, and design all need to be as realistic as possible. An easy mistake is to go for something that looks too sophisticated, too corporate. This isn’t supposed to be for a school or town hall: it’s for protecting a home. Go for something that looks like you installed a complete system yourself.
Take a look at the WALI Bullet Dummy Camera, for instance, available in black or silver. It doesn’t look overly complicated, but does look like it does the job effectively.
While most only require batteries to activate a blinking light, consider if this is a good idea. You might think this makes it stand out enough for thieves to spot it and be put off, but actually, most CCTV units are designed to blend in. Generally, only fake cameras come with lights.
If the unthinkable happens and an intruder actually gets into your house, you want to know your most cherished items are secure. Maybe that’s a personalized device, pored-over photo albums, or family heirlooms. You might store these in a cupboard, but that’s hardly secure. Similarly, if you’ve got a bike in your garage or shed, you don’t want that to get stolen.
A padlock is the obvious next step, but one that emits a siren when it’s tampered with is even better.
There are quite a few of these on the market, all fairly cheap, and you’ll probably prefer to go to a well-known name. Rolston’s a great brand, set up in the UK and widely-trusted. An alarm padlock by the firm can be shipped from England to America for a little over $20. Lesser known makes are of course available for around $15, but Rolston’s 110db alarm goes off if it’s touched at all.
They’re a bit too expensive if you’ve lots of items to secure, but saving it solely for your most valuable treasures is a great idea.
Safe and Sound?
With your home secure, and your bank balance basically intact, you can set off on your vacation with peace of mind.
What devices do you use when travelling? Have you tried any of the above? What other tips do you have for keeping your home secure?