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Home Safe Home… From A Smartphone

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(Photo credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Whether a person is at work, running errands or on vacation, what is going on back at their home is likely always on their mind.

Security surveillance systems can cost thousands of dollars.  But homeowners don’t have to spend the big bucks – all it takes is a smartphone to make a safe home.

Mark Beach said he came home after a recent weekend away to discover that his home had been burglarized.

“They took lawn equipment, they took sporting goods equipment,” said Beach. “I was just mad.”

Summer in South Florida is prime burglary season. The FBI estimated that more than 2 million burglaries occur in the U.S. each year, costing homeowners an average of more than $2,000.

“If you’re away on vacation for an extended period of time, someone may pick up on that fact and decide to come and pay you a visit,” said security consultant Chris McGoey.

But now homeowners can monitor their house without even being there, all they need is a smartphone.

“Anyone can do this now,” said CNET senior editor Bridget Carey. “Not just the rich and famous or the uber-tech savvy.”

The cheapest method is a free app called “Presence.” The app lets users turn their old iPhones or iPads into home security cameras and view the live streams through their current phones, wherever they might be, for free.

“If there’s motion being detected, it can send you an alert on your phone,” said Carey .

There is also an app called “iCam”, it costs five dollars.  It lets users remotely monitor live video and audio feeds from their home, through a phone. The download works with both Android and iPhone devices.

“It taps into the webcam that you have already on your computer, and you can do multiple cameras, too,” said Carey.

And that’s not all.

Another way to see inside the house through using a smartphone is a device called “Drop Cam,” which is a single camera that costs $149 and features night vision, as well as the ability to pan and zoom into the corners.

If one camera is not enough, Logitech Alert offers a multi-camera setup that can detect motion, record video, and even send alerts to a phone – starting at about $300.

But security experts warn that to get all the full benefits of these options, a lot of work is required on the part of the resident.

“You kind of have to put the burden on yourself to be able to monitor when there’s an alert for a motion detection going on, be able to grab your phone, and maybe call the police if you are concerned,” said Carey.

Something else to keep in mind is that if there is a power failure, electronic systems might fail. And if the Internet is down, smartphone users might not be able to log on to monitor the video from these security options.

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