Using Tech to Protect Against Theft
We explore how you can protect your home using technology, and how to protect yourself against high-tech thefts.
Track and protect packages
One of the most tempting targets? Recently delivered packages. Dubbed "porch pirates," thieves take advantage of the increase in deliveries during the holiday season, snatching gifts from porches, mailrooms, or front doors. Delivery theft can be a devastating discovery for homeowners, representing not only a physical but financial loss.
In our recent Winter Safety Index, 52% of respondents with home insurance admitted to having no idea who could reimburse them should a package go missing. If the worst happens to you, there are a few options. Online retailer Amazon is currently the only delivery service to offer reimbursement. When you've used a different service, check your home insurance policy. Some providers — like Onlia — work with its customers to reimburse them for lost or stolen packages.
If you're expecting a surge in deliveries, protect your package by requiring a signature, considering installing security cameras, or have your packages delivered to alternate addresses when you're not home regularly. For online purchases, some experts recommend using a credit card with theft protection. Opt for delivery services that can provide proof of delivery — if you need to file an insurance claim, this will be essential.
Take stock of your property
Take a look around your property, and take inventory of what you've got stored. A shed may house winter tires, your barbecue may be on the deck, or your bikes may be locked up against the fence. These are all high ticket items, ripe for the picking for thieves. The first step to protect your stuff is to take an inventory. Use your smartphone to take photos of items, and pair the photos with registration or serial numbers in the Notes app on your phone. Detailed inventories can help if something goes missing, as they will inform insurance claims and police reports.
While motion sensor lights may scare someone in the act, consider linking those with motion sensor cameras. Often linking into a smartphone app, this bit of tech can alert you when someone (or something) is detected lurking around your property. For sheds, a strong padlock is good, but a Bluetooth enabled one is great; it’ll alert you when someone is tampering with the mechanism.
Secure your vehicle (and your keys)
Often, the most expensive item we own is sitting just outside our home — the car. With over 87,000 reported vehicle thefts in Canada in 2019, car thefts are a rampant issue. In that same year, Ontario saw nearly 24,000 thefts, with newer, luxury models in high demand (while nationally, Ford trucks top the list). Bottom line? No car is safe, so protecting them should be a priority.
Opportunistic thieves may be looking for unlocked doors or forgotten change in the console, while high-tech criminals are boosting cars with the latest technology. Using innovation for evil, thieves will boost cars by copying the signal from the vehicle's wireless key fob. While dropping your keys on the counter may feel easy, it’s this proximity to the door that allows thieves to amplify the fob frequency and then duplicate it to a new fob. It is literally giving them a new key to your car — the alarm won't even sound.
Experts recommend storing your keys far from the front door and windows, perhaps even purchasing a signal-blocking box to store the fob in. To kick up the technology a bit, consider installing an after market alarm on your vehicle. While the thieves may gain access with a dummy fob, they won't be able to silence the secondary alarm. Using programmable GPS trackers will notify you when your car moves, especially when it shouldn't — like when you're sleeping. You can also set up additional sensors that will only unlock when a specified cellphone is within a certain proximity of the vehicle, rendering a dummy fob useless.
Smart home safety
Everyone forgets their Wi-Fi password these days, and with more smart security systems in place, you may be comfortable re-using the same password across all devices. Unfortunately, that attempt at efficiency is precisely what hackers and thieves exploit; cracking one passcode can grant them access to your entire system, from smart security cameras to virtual assistants
From the outside in, secure your home by using different passwords on all of your different smart devices. Take stock of who has access to your home; perhaps you've had recent renovations or just had someone in to clean your house. Instead of sharing keys, look into Bluetooth-enabled locking systems, allowing you to give out a unique code instead of a key. These systems will allow you to monitor who’s using which code, when they use it, and you can revoke access when the job is complete.
Look lived in when you’re gone
If you're going to be away, make sure your house doesn't appear to be empty — if burglars think there are people inside, they’re less likely to target your home. Timers for lights have been around for years, but new Bluetooth and wireless-enabled light bulbs allow you to control timing from your phone, from anywhere. Again, remember to set up your smart home systems with varying passwords for safety.
Inventory high-value items
Valuable items can often be irreplaceable and need to be treated as such. Just like you would for outdoor items, create an inventory of valuables inside your home, using photos and videos to document what you own. Backing this up online will allow easy access and reference, particularly if you need to make an insurance claim.
Store physical objects like diamonds and trading cards in a flood and fire-proof safe, protecting them from both robberies and natural disasters. Check your home insurance policy to see if higher value items are covered. If not, consider additional insurance to cover your most prized possessions, like artwork.
Copy the essentials
For essential documents like passports, make photocopies and store them in a different location than the original. While you won't be able to travel on a photocopy, it will help with reporting and replacing the document.
Photocopies are an excellent idea for credit cards, licences, and essential home documents. Storing them securely through cloud storage allows you access, no matter where you are.
Bonus tip: Use an RFID-blocking wallet to protect your card details from being skimmed when you're out and about.