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Police, businesses give tips to protect your home during vacation
Mobile apps offer a way to monitor home security cameras
0325SURVEILLANCE1
For those traveling on spring break or other vacations, home security can be just a click away on a smartphone.

On the beach, the sand is between your toes, and you try to keep your smartphone away from your fingers.

But for those safeguarding their valuables while on vacation, home security can be a scroll away.

Multiple companies now offer security systems, which can cost around $100 at local big-box stores, that allow video streaming to smartphones and computers.

The advancements in the past few years, said Gainesville police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, have created an individualized touch to home safety.

“They’re able to monitor the systems themselves, from their iPads, their computers,” Holbrook said. “They’re able to see live video feeds of their homes, individuals in and around their homes and again, these are great tools that law enforcement utilizes as well.”

The beginning of spring spells spring break getaways for some, which present opportunities for would-be burglars to raid empty nests.

Vacation times usually lead to slightly higher rates of burglaries and entering automobiles, Holbrook said.

“Typically we do see crime increase slightly around this time of year,” he said. “Again, when we see kids out of school for spring break and the first few weeks that school gets out for summer, we do see those petty theft crimes increase slightly.”

In aiding law enforcement, new options allow for the sounding of an alarm and tracking, said owner Counte Cooley of Electronic Sales Co. in Gainesville.

“This is brand new technology, just off the press,” he said.

Twenty years ago or so, the big spike in installment calls for Cooley came around Christmas during holiday trips. The trend now has smoothed to be equal year-round.

The new customers Cooley sees coming in are homes unguarded for decades, using only a pistol or a guard dog for protection.

“I had a hard time selling alarm systems when we started selling alarm systems back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s for that reason,” he said. “There was no real threat.”

Media reports of break-ins in and around Hall County, Cooley said, have resulted in the push for fortification.

For those wishing to skip town soon, Holbrook said law enforcement warns residents about advertising vacation plans and being vigilant of visitors.

“Many times in these types of cases, we see that these types of crimes are committed by known associates to the victims,” Holbrook said. “These are individuals that have been in the victim’s homes. They have seen obviously things that they want, and they come back later on and get them.”

For those taking a vacation, Holbrook encourages residents to file out-of-town watch forms, which should be filled out at least three to five days before the departure date.

In one case, the stop-by from an officer helped homeowners outside the realm of burglary.

“Officers were able to go by the house and ensure that was everything was safe and secure. They noticed problems such as a busted pipe and they were able to contact the homeowner to let them know so that the damage would not be greater than what it was,” Holbrook said.

The form is available at www.gainesville.org/neighborhood-watch, and people needing more information can call 770-287-0893. Residents outside city limits can click on www.hallcounty.org/179/Vacation-Home-Checks.

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