'Ring' doorbells and other “affluence clues” that could make your home a target by burglars 

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 13 September 2021

Smart technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the past decade, especially after lockdowns forced us to turn to technology to replace human interaction. 

For the most part, it can be useful. It means friends, family members, and co-workers can communicate with each other from anywhere in the world and it’s completely transformed the way we live and work. 

From turning on a light switch with an app on your phone to re-arranging a parcel delivery when you’re not at home, the sky is the limit when it comes to smart home technology. 

But there have also been several studies showing the risks this kind of technology poses. 

These can include alerting potential burglars to homes full of expensive tech or increasing the risk of hackers being able to access your personal details. 

Are smart doorbells encouraging burglaries? 

Official police data shows that traditional burglaries have declined but there were nearly 300,000 residential burglaries reported to the police between June 2018 and June 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Before a burglary takes place, the burglar will assess the home and look for things like: when people are home, what the access to the house is like, how affluent the residents are, and what the value of possessions in the house might be. 

Smart doorbells and locks have been identified as being a potential influence over a house being chosen by a burglar, according to research by Duncan Hodges at Cranfield University. 

Smart doorbells and locks can be a potential influence over a house being chosen by a burglar 

This is because they are ‘particularly noticeable’ as they are fixed to the outside of a property and they could be a clue to show a house which has more high-value items in. 

The fact that smart doorbells are bought by more affluent consumers is also supported by government data which shows that since around the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, on average, UK households have purchased two smart devices. . 

Of those, households earning £55,000 or more are most likely to have bought one and 9% of consumers earning more than £55,000 a year bought a smart device including a doorbell to protect their home. 

However, you also need to weigh up the advantage of a smart doorbell. It can video and record potential burglars, and alert homeowners to strange behaviour that they would not have known about if they had a regular doorbell. 

What's more, thieves are also using property portals as a resource for robbing your home. Here’s what you can do to stop it. 

If you have been burgled, we all know that we should claim on our home insurance. 

However, your policy may also come with legal expenses insurance included, particularly if it's premium cover, but few of us know about it. 

The policy will cover everyone who lives at the insured address, except lodgers or guests. For each civil dispute it will typically pay out between £50,000 to £100,000 directly to the solicitors. 

Smart doorbells can alert potential burglars to homes full of expensive tech 

Smart doorbells as a security risk from hackers 

You don’t need to look very far for examples of hackers accessing smart doorbells, and Which? research shows that there are some major security flaws in some popular models. 

The consumer group said some devices were easily switched off and hacked by criminals, including some sold on Amazon. 

It tested 11 doorbells and the most common flaws found were weak password policies and doorbells that didn’t encrypt data. Two were even found to be able to steal network passwords and hack into other devices in a home. 

There were nearly 300,000 residential burglaries reported to the police between June 2018 and June 2019 

How to protect your smart doorbell 

The government is planning a new law to make sure smart devices meet a basic level of requirements, including customers being told at the point of sale the length of time the device will receive security updates and a ban on manufacturers using default passwords. 

Until then it makes financial sense to protect yourself, remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions when it comes to securing your home. 

3 things to do right now...

Do your research before you buy and thoroughly check the company supplying the doorbell and make sure it’s easy to contact if problems arise. 

Once you have your doorbell, change the password to something hard to guess, check when you’ll need to update the security settings, and always set up two-step authentication on any connected apps. 

A smart doorbell isn’t the only way to secure your house, and if the worst does happen, you’ll want home and contents insurance to make sure you can replace anything lost, stolen, or damaged. 

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Don’t forget that while you may think that this article is brilliant, it is intended for information purposes only and should not be mistaken for financial advice or recommendations.