General Question

rojo's avatar

What would you recommend for a security system for an infrequently occupied house?

Asked by rojo (24159points) January 19th, 2016

My mother is living with my sister but we still have her home. Someone goes over there a couple of times a month to check on things, mow the lawn etc. but other than that it is not occupied.
We recently had someone break in.
I am looking for suggestions for a system that can be remotely monitored, preferably by phone, that would incorporate both camera and motion detectors or possibly combo units that would transmit pictures when motion is detected.
Is there any such system that we could install or that you would recommend?

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12 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

The best “security” is to have someone in the home. That is, a trusted tenant, housesitter, mature and capable family member, etc. The house needs to be occupied or it will always be a target in an iffy neighborhood.

Even if you have “a good security system” on an unoccupied house it will still be targeted by vandals and low-skill burglars. Security systems in general are intended to alert home occupants – especially at night, when most people are asleep, and when most break-ins occur – that they are no longer alone and secure, and should not remain asleep.

You can get systems that will automatically alert police and fire departments upon appropriate signals from the system, but then you run an even higher risk – depending on the settings established for the system – of setting off false alarms, which will end up costing you (the homeowner / executor / caregiver) in fees for the police and fire response to false alarms. (And then a corresponding lack of intensity in responding to continuing alarms.)

Can you put someone in the house to live there?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Monitored security system by cellular technology would be an option. But as the “Blue One” @CWOTUS ^^^^ said occupied is the best.

Coloma's avatar

A few geese.
They are loud alarmists and pack a mean beak tweak and wing punch. A grassy yard, a swimming pool and a bucket of cracked corn is all you need. My 18 yr. old chinese gander has single beakedly driven off many a stranger in his day and his specialty is driving off the roving bands of Jegovahs witnesses. The goose sentry never fails, needs no programming nor repairs and is on standby 24/7 for your security needs. lol

Seek's avatar

I have a neighbor with about a hundred geese in his yard. I’d be terrified to walk through that crucible.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Does te house have WiFi? If yes…. There are many multi camera HD systems in the 300 – $500 range that will record when they detect motion and transmit the video to a smart phone. They can be remotely operated and monitored as well. I use Zmodo equipment but that info is already 3 years old. No doubt there are better ones now.
You can get much cheaper systems but you’ll end up spend $ for the hard drive, battery backup, extra cameras, etc.
If no WiFi is available.then I’d go with a Stealth cam or two I’d also add a cheap trail cam that will record approaches and attempts. If the slime breaks in they will take the camera boosting their confidence. It does not matter. The other cameras will do the real work.
I would also put relatively inexpensive battery operated vibration sensing sensors on windows and doors and in hiding places .
I definitely would not set a booby trap or two of OC spray from Guardian Self Defense and Security as that would not be a nice thing to do to a guest in your home and might traumatize the fine gentleman or gentlewoman no doubt inspecting the home for unsafe.conditions. I would also would not fill some old prescription pill bottles in the medicine cabinet with some other chemical as that might be a source of confusion if they were ever misplaced .

Coloma's avatar

@Seek 100, wow, yep, that would be a violent mob for sure. haha, The honking alone would render you deaf as a doorknob.

Seek's avatar

@LuckyGuy – I appreciate your moral fortitude. I especially appreciate how specific you were in naming the brand of substance you’d never use.

rojo's avatar

The geese, while surely a good idea, are probably a little more labor intensive than I care to deal with and unless they can be trained to use a cellphone their commotion would not do me any good since I am out of earshot most of the time.

The house does, or did, have WiFi and can again. What I am wanting is something that alerts a cell phone when motion is detected and if equipped with a visual, transmits a picture or video to the phone. Once detected and sent we would then decide whether or not the authorities need to be called. I am thinking that cameras on the outside with motion detectors inside.

On the cameras, is there a point where they become ineffective if mounted too far out of reach for someone to mess with them? Can motion detectors be set to ignore the occasional mouse and only focus on things over a certain mass?

How does the ZModo system differentiate between zones/cameras when it sends out alarms?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@rojo. Eac camera view is broken into 150 sub zones, a 10×15 matrix. You can eithehr ignore or monitor each zone for motion and yo can set te sensitivity for each from So sensitive an ant will set it off by changing one pixel or on go off if the whole frame changes. You ten have te option on what to do. alarm, ignore, record only, notify you, etc. I record with a 30 second pretrigger. If there is an event it will record 30 seconds BEFORE it happened until 2–5 minutes after. I block data into 15 minute chunks for easy file transfer. The 1 terabyte drive will store about a month of info for 8 cameras before writing on top of the old info. If you are using motion sensing it can last years.
Every camera can be set differently. I will ignore motion on roads but will be super sensitive for areas where people should not be.
I have a camera set up to alert me if a squirrel visits the bird feeder. Birds fly directly to the feedeer. Squirrels crawl up the post. Bingo.

LuckyGuy's avatar

(I’m sorry for the poor writing above. I was typing quickly trying to get your answer before I had to run.)

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I’m not replying about a security system, but about something you might not have considered – insurance.

A homeowner’s policy is based on someone living in the house, to turn lights on and off and make sure nothing’s amiss. A vacant dwelling policy covers property that’s no longer occupied, or that’s only sporadically used by its owners.

I learned all this when I moved my mother to an assisted living facility and began gradually emptying her house. During a nasty February, when nobody was there, the temperatures became severely cold, a pipe froze and burst, and the entire 1st floor and basement were flooded. Because I had the right kind of insurance, the remediation and reconstruction were 100% covered. If the wrong policy had been in effect, my family would have received no insurance reimbursement.

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