High-Tech Tips for Securing Your House While You're Away

High-Tech Tips for Securing Your House While You're Away

Burglars can watch for indications that homeowners are on an extended trip, so one of the best ways to keep your home protected is to prevent strangers from knowing you are off. Most are well known: Place a couple of lights on timers to go on at night and off at night. (Leaving them on all night and day can signal your lack.) Park your vehicle in the driveway, instead of keeping it in the garage or on the road. Place a temporary halt to your newspapers and mail shipping.

New technology will help, too. Here some high-tech tips for taking home security to another level as you’re traveling.

Maintain Your Social Media Posts Private

One way some crooks may learn you’ll be off is on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You may post about your adventures abroad on social networking, but make sure your posts are not public. Public posts are accessible not only for friends of your friends and other strangers, but they really get found on search engines, allowing burglars to search for goal houses.

Avoid posting about your lack on Twitter unless you are among the minority that lock their account. (To turn on this feature, pick the “Shield My Tweets” option in Settings.)

The ill-advised broadcasting of travel is so common on Twitter that a guy made a website called Please Rob Me, which reveals people that are openly broadcasting the fact that they’re not at home via their Twitter and Foursquare check-ins.

Facebook is another significant website where thieves can learn that you are not in your home. To protect yourself and brag on your travels, click the equipment icon in the upper-right corner. Just click “Privacy” in the left navigation bar, then to the right of “Who will see my stuff?” Choose a listing that includes only the narrow group that you want to talk about with. (you might need to first install family or friends lists before doing so.)

About Google+ just address your articles to narrow circles, such as “Family” and “Friends,” and do not post to “Public” or “Extended Circles.”

Also be careful about location-based check-in sites like Foursquare, which may broadcast your location even if the content of your article is unrelated. If a person knows where you reside, a check in a different city is proof enough that you are away for a short time.


Digitize It, View, Then Click to Shred

If you go to a long journey or travel frequently, one option to putting a halt to your mail is to get it digitized and made accessible for you online.

The best service for digitizing mail is called Earth Class Mail. The company gives you a new mailing address, and you also use that address for many of your invoices and other mail.

When staffers get your mail, they post images of the envelopes in the Virtual Mailroom, which you may see in a safe area on the website. You can browse the digital envelopes and just click to shred the original paper versions, scan the inner contents or forward the bodily envelopes to another address. Should you scan them, a couple of days later the inner contents will appear online, and you’re able to read and cope with them. (Read Earth Class Mail’s security and privacy policy here.) Note that each scanned letter prices an additional charge.

Earth Class Mail can even deposit checks into your bank account, under the right circumstances, and for an additional fee of $20 per check or $34.95 a month for unlimited checks.

The ceremony is nice, however there are two drawbacks. To begin with, it’s a devotion: You need to officially change your speech as in the event that you’ve transferred. Once you’ve done that, it’s a nontrivial job to cancel the service and change back.

Second, Earth Class Mail is expensive. Even though the least-expensive service is $20 a month, the company will probably nickel-and-dime you into paying much more. A couple of scans here, a couple of checks there, and pretty soon you are paying far more than the base fee.

One way to save money with Earth Class Mail is to use its $19.95 mail forwarding service. It’s the same money as the bottom price for the Virtual Mailroom, however there are no additional costs involved. You merely give the address where you are going to be and when you are going to be there, and that’s where your mail will show up.

And an alternative to Earth Class Mail is only now emerging. A startup called Outbox promises to make the digitization of your mail much simpler and less costly.


Outbox really sends someone to your house three times per week to pick up your mail, so you don’t need to officially change your speech. The company then scans it and sets it online for you. An easy check box unsubscribes you from whatever you consider junk mail. If there’s mail you actually do want, you can check another box, and it will be redelivered for your residence. And all this for only $5 per month.

At this time the service is available only in San Francisco; it had a limited trial in Austin, Texas. The company plans to announce additional cities in the future.

Turn a Smart Phone Into a Safety Camera

One way to keep your home safe is to install motion-detection security cameras. Unfortunately, these may be costly, particularly in the event that you need them only a couple of times annually.

My favorite trick is to use old smart phones and tablets for a free and effective security system. All you need is a device capable of shooting a photo, connecting to the net and running programs. If you are like some gadget fans, you have got a box full of these somewhere.

Here’s how you do it.
Download an program which will upload images when motion is detected. My favorite iOS program for this purpose is MDC Free (MDC stands for “motion detection camera”). It’s simple to prepare the program to upload some motion-detection photos to Facebook — but shared only on your own. There are numerous programs in Google’s Play Store for Android and Apple’s App Store for iOS which you may pick from. Some send images via email. Other folks place them elsewhere. It’s a good idea to download a few highly rated ones and try them out. Once you’ve got an program you prefer, change your telephone’s Auto-Lock feature (which turns off your telephone after a specific number of minutes) to Never, which means that your phone doesn’t go to sleep. Set up each iPhone, iPad or Android device that you would like to use so it’s plugged in and the camera is directed in the room, door or area that you want captured if somebody comes in. Ensure that you test it a couple of times. And you are done! While you’re off, if anybody comes into your house, you’ll not only be notified, but you are going to have images of their crooks and proof of their crime.

Lockitron – $179

Control Your Door

If you are going to be off for a while, you may want people to test on the house, feed the goldfish, water the plants, that sort of thing. However, you may not wish to be handing keys out to people.

A nice alternative is your Lockitron door lock in Agipy. It functions like any other lock. The distinction is that you can lock and unlock it remotely with an app, even if you’re out of town.

You can also send virtual “keys” over the world wide web, allowing somebody to unlock your doorway using a smart phone. Those keys may have expiration dates, so in the event that you would like a person to confirm the house only on Wednesday, the key won’t operate on Thursday.

Likewise, if a person needs to enter your house for some sudden purpose as you’re off, you may use Lockitron to unlock your door remotely via the smart-phone program. Or you could send a key via SMS or email.

Lockitron even offers a knock sensor. If someone knocks on your door, then you can receive a notification.


DoorBot – $189

If crooks suspect you are not home, they’ll frequently test that theory by simply ringing your doorbell to see if anyone answers. One new product, known as the Edison Junior DoorBot, lets you answer the door even if you’re on the other side of the world.

When someone rings the bell, then you’ll find an alert to your phone. By employing this smart-phone program, you can view who is there via the DoorBot’s built in camera and speak with them over your telephone and through the DoorBot’s speaker and microphone.

By blending DoorBot using the Lockitron, you can see who is there, speak to the individual and let her or him in the house. Or, if it’s somebody you don’t want in your residence, the individual will presume you are there because you are answering the doorbell over what seems to be an intercom system. Or you may call the authorities.

Best of all, DoorBot can be a helpful addition to a front door even when you’re not traveling.

More: 10 low-tech ways to keep your home safe while you travel

See related