Law enforcement and home security experts have been warning us for decades to make our homes look occupied while we are away on vacation. The reasoning is simple: burglars are drawn to unoccupied homes because these make easy targets. But if that is true when we are on vacation, is it also true when we are at work and the kids are in school?
An unoccupied home is attractive regardless of why it’s unoccupied. Burglars couldn’t care less if you’re at work or two thousand miles away. What they care about is the fact that nobody is in your house when they decide to burglarize it.
So, what’s the solution? Making your home look occupied around the clock. The idea is to always force burglars to second-guess their plans to break in. If they are not sure whether or not someone is home, they are less likely to take their chances.
Home Automation Is the Key
Stopping the mail and having neighbors park in your driveway are strategies you employ when you’re away for weeks at a time. But for day-to-day protection, you need other strategies. Vivint says that these days, technology is where it’s at. They say home automation and smart home control are key.
The home automation concept is one of connecting electrically-powered devices to a central hub so that they can be both automated and controlled remotely. One of the earliest home automation devices ever made was the electric light timer. It had a mechanical timer and a plug for a tabletop lamp. You would set the timer and plug it into a wall outlet. It would turn your lamp on and off automatically.
Home automation in the 21st century is much more advanced. For starters, digital technology has replaced mechanical and analog devices. Modern technology is also far more sophisticated in terms of automation. Some devices can even learn and modify programming themselves.
Start with Your Lights
Making your home look occupied during the day involves a few key strategies, starting with your lights. When you are home, what do you do with the lights? You turn them on and off as needed. You go into the kitchen, and you turn the light on. You get your cup of coffee, walk back to the living room, and turn the light off as you pass by.
Home automation allows you to set up different schedules for every light in your home. Take advantage of that by programming different lights to go on and off at different times. Pay special attention to the lights in those rooms you use most often. By giving those lights more action, you get a more realistic simulation.
Automate Window Blinds
You can take the benefits of automated lighting to the next level by automating window blinds. Perhaps you have a couple of second-floor bedrooms facing the street. Install automated window blinds and program them to go up and down at different intervals throughout the day. Do the same thing with the blinds on the first floor.
An extra benefit of automated blinds is that they are still new enough that burglars do not expect them. If a burglar passes by and sees the blinds down, then makes a second pass and sees them up, they have to wonder if the home is truly unoccupied. You will have them second-guessing a decision to enter your home.
Utilize the Irrigation System
Modern homes with built-in irrigation systems generally have programming capacity as well. Take advantage of that. A working irrigation system plants a seed of doubt in the burglar’s mind.
Perhaps you irrigate mainly in the early morning and late evening. Keep doing that. But adjust your programming so that the irrigation system runs two or three times during the day. Just 10 or 15 minutes is sufficient.
The Little Things Add Up
By now you might be thinking that none of these things would dissuade you. That’s not the point. The idea of making your house look occupied is not to latch onto that one thing that will act as a magic defense system. It is to do a lot of little things that add up.
Just think about how you utilize your home on the weekends. You might spend 30 or 40 minutes working out in the yard. From there you might go to the garage and tinker with the car. Meanwhile, the kids are playing video games in the living room or listening to music upstairs.
The point is that you all move around the house. You are in this room for a while, then you move to another room. You are occupied with one task for a little while before moving on to another. This is what you are trying to simulate with home automation.
There isn’t just one thing that will convince burglars that your home is occupied. But if you are doing a lot of little things, they all add up for a more natural simulation that forces burglars to second-guess themselves. That’s really all you’re after.
Basic Home Automation to Start
Home automation is the key to making your house look occupied. You can get started with a basic, entry-level kit from any number of providers. A basic kit should include automated lighting devices and a thermostat. From there you can add other devices as you see fit.
Your other option is to skip a standard package and custom design your own system from the start. There certainly is no shortage of choices. Lighting devices would be a good starting point along with automated window blinds. Throw in a video doorbell and motion sensors for exterior lighting, and you have a pretty solid package to start with.
Remember, your goal is to simulate normal life as much as possible. The better your simulation, the harder it will be for burglars to tell whether or not you are home. Any chance that your home is occupied is sufficient reason to pass it by in search of another target.