Ask LH: Will Wireless Cameras Help Secure My Property?

Hi Lifehacker, Recently I’ve had a series of break and enter attempts made against my home. Whilst none have been successful yet, my biggest concern is the police and I have minimal evidence of what has happened. There is no CCTV in/around the street, no witnesses and I personally haven’t got a look at the person(s) involved. The police are going to send a forensics team this time to try and pull prints.

We are renting a single story brick home. If I owned the home, I would have installed my own security system and cameras but being a rental, I can’t do this. I’ve read a lot about wireless IP Cameras recently and I am wondering: would this be suitable for someone renting a property, where a traditional wired installation probably isn’t possible? Thanks, Insecure

Break-and-enter picture from Shutterstock

Dear Insecure,

Wireless IP cameras are affordable and require minimal installation. However, they also run a higher risk of being stolen because the cameras are easy to remove. You’ll subsequently want a solution that stores footage remotely; either directly onto your network or via automatic uploads from an SD card slot.

IP cameras are quite simple to set up these days; most come with software that guides you through the process when you first log into the control centre. Once everything is set up, you can then keep tabs on your property remotely via the internet. Some are even compatible with free smartphone apps that ping security alerts and let you pan and tilt the camera.

Important features to look out for include motion detection, timer switches, an infrared/night mode, audio capture, email alerts and, if your camera is exposed to the elements, outdoor suitability. You may also want to plump for a model that is capable of HD video capture, as this will aid in the identification of suspects.

If you’re looking for an affordable solution, the Kogan Wireless IP Camera currently costs $59 per unit. While it’s not high-definition, it comes with all of the other features mentioned above, including 270 degree pan and 90 degree tilt rotation which can be controlled remotely via iPhone or Android devices.

Naturally, you should also speak to your real estate agent about the situation prior to setting up the cameras. As a renter you’re entitled to safe and secure accommodations — the landlord may upgrade the locks on your house and might even cover some of the camera surveillance costs. (Burglars aren’t known for being gentle with properties after all, so it will be in their interest to thwart them.) We’d also spring for home contents insurance if you haven’t already.

On a final note, also be mindful of where your cameras are pointing during set-up — if you inadvertently breech the privacy of a neighbour (by directing the camera over a backyard fence, say), it could be you getting questioned by the police instead of the thieves you’re trying to catch in the act.

Do any security conscious readers have a suggestion of their own? Disseminate your findings in the comments section below.


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