Your Home is More Likely to Be Burgled Now Than at Any Other Time of the Year
Interview with Steven Montgomery, Somfy’s UK & Ireland Managing Director and home security expert
Published: 11th Nov 2019
At SMARTHOME news, we had the opportunity to interview Steven Montgomery, Somfy’s UK & Ireland Managing Director. During the interview, we discussed why residential crimes increase during winters, what you can do to protect your home and recent advancements in smart home security technology.
Q1. Can you tell us why winters are considered a prime time for burglaries?
That’s correct! Winters — especially the months between November and February — are recognised as the prime months for residential burglaries. In fact, pretty much confirms as much. When you think about it, the reason is pretty obvious. During Christmas and New Year, for example, homes are generally full of gifts. And a lot of homeowners go away during the winters, sometimes for weeks or even months.
And in most cases, homeowners don’t take a lot of precautions other than a simple deadbolt to keep burglars away. Considering all of that, it’s pretty obvious why residential crimes increase during the most festive seasons. But the tide is changing — thanks to smart home technology and the power of IoT, people are now empowered to take proactive yet cost-effective measures to actively protect their properties.
Q2. How do residential burglars typically break into properties? And what can we do to protect ourselves against it?
That’s a great question — if we want to protect ourselves from burglaries, we need to first decode how they occur. According to the , around 70% of all home burglars break in through the doors and around 30% of them break in through windows. So, there you have it! Doors and windows — that’s how burglars typically break in!
So, it stands to reason that most home security endeavours should focus on these points of entry. Most people have a fairly intuitive idea of how to protect themselves against these home invasions — place deadlocks on doors and keep all doors and windows firmly shut when you sleep or leave the house.
But that’s not enough to deter criminals, is it? Burglars don’t just walk away if a door is locked. No, they break down the doors and [smash the] windows. Some even try to reach for windows on the second floor of the house.
That’s why homeowners should keep all their windows firmly locked. And if they have ladders, they should be hidden away in garden sheds so burglars can’t use them to climb up. Homeowners should also keep their gardens well-lit to minimise spots where burglars can take cover. And you may also consider installing gravelled paths and spiky bushes so the burglars can’t help but make some noise when they try to break in.
All of these intuitive physical considerations can protect you from potential burglaries.
Q3. In recent years, smart home technology has made massive headways in the security sector. How can smart home technology contribute to residential security?
Over the years, we’ve come to realise that burglars won’t stop just because you have some deadbolts on your doors or gravelled paths in your backyard. These are minor obstacles rather than preventive measures. But smart home technology has transformed residential security.
Burglar alarms and CCTV cameras have long been used as the standard-bearers of home security. But these devices have been considered too complicated or too expensive for most people. In recent years, however, these technologies have become a lot more user-friendly and cost-effective, so much so that most people can easily install them.
Furthermore, new smart home innovations have pushed the envelope on home security even further. Modern smart households also include features like motion sensors with integrated sirens and alarms. In fact, modern motion sensors are so intelligent that they include infrared sensors, you can modify their sensitivity, and you can set up different sensitivity zones to decrease the risk of false alarms and increase their efficiency.
Modern smart security devices also include features like window and door break-in sensors — these devices can help detect break-ins before they actually happen. If they sense that someone is tinkering with the window or door from the outside, they can set off alarms or send you push notifications. These devices can detect vibrations and motions that are specific to break-ins as opposed to someone knocking at the door or a strong wind.
Most of these modern smart home devices and technologies are wireless and they immediately send push notifications to the owners. This allows you to view live footage and take action immediately — be it calling the authorities or raising an alarm.
Q4. Can smart home devices be used to avert or prevent break-ins altogether?
Absolutely! The biggest advantage of including smart home devices and security features is that they prevent break-ins from occurring altogether. Burglars generally look for easy targets and unprotected homes. If they sense that you have a modern security system, most burglars won’t even bother targeting your property.
In addition to that, modern smart security systems can also be integrated with the rest of your smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo. Once the security devices are connected to the rest of your smart home, you can remotely turn lights on or off, open or close the shutters and garage doors, lower or raise the blinds, or turn different devices on or off. By manually controlling different parts of your home when you’re away, you give the impression that the home is occupied and awake.
If you’re going on a long vacation, you can also set these features on timers so your home continues functioning the way it normally does when you’re at home. These features will prevent break-ins altogether because burglars rarely target completely active and protected households.
Q5. With the continued adoption of these smart home technologies, do you think residential burglaries and crimes will decrease in frequency?
Well, we can’t speak for the future. But we know that burglars don’t often target well-protected homes. So, if people continue adopting these security technologies — and they continue growing in sophistication — seasonal insecurity may become a thing of the past!
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