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How to keep your mail safe from porch pirates

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Tim Schott leaves something very special at home every time he goes to work.

“I’ve got a stay-at-home wife,” he says.

To protect his family and any packages delivered to his home, Schott has chosen The Ring system to monitor his front porch.

“Looks like we actually received a package this afternoon,” Schott said while looking at his cell phone. “He rang the doorbell and left.”

The Ring is easy to use and install.

“There (are) two screws,” said Jazzalynn Reber, a Sales Specialist at Lowe's. “You just screw it right there and right there, and you can hard wire it with your existing doorbell.”

In 2017, nearly one in five homeowners was a victim of package theft. A clear majority of packages are stolen during the day when the homeowner is at work.

But now there are several options to protect your packages from "porch pirates."

Chris Pearson is a security expert with Security Options. He says the first thing you need to decide is if you want a stand-alone camera or something that will expand as your needs grow.

“You want to think in layers in doing security,” Pearson said. “We obviously start with door locks on our house, (then) people invest in lighting.”

For the do-it-yourself person, stand-alone systems are a good choice. The Ring system runs about $250 and there’s a battery option. Schott also uses the Neighbors app which allows him to see porch activity that his neighbors have posted. He demonstrated the video from the middle of the night when a stranger tried to get inside someone’s home.

“This is from last week,” Schott said. “1.8 miles from my house.”

There’s also a Ring Floodlight for about the same price that will use the existing wire from your original floodlight. But for the ultimate in flexibility, Reber says to consider the $150 Arlo security camera that uses batteries.

“It’s got a magnetic wall mount,” Reber said. “You just screw in the screws, place the wall mount, and (the camera) attaches.”

But if you’re planning on expanding your security, you need to go with a system that will communicate with other devices.

“Really when we get into a full automation home package or more along a complete security system, we would (go to) the Skybell,” said Pearson.

This system will alert you and record what’s happening on your porch like The Ring, but Pearson says it records for longer periods of time. It also unlocks doors and garage doors. Plus you can have several cameras feed to it, to protect the inside of your home.

“Our newest thing is a gun lock that alerts your phone anytime your gun is moved,” Pearson said.

When it comes to pricing, Pearson says five years ago these systems were $5,000.

“That’s not the case anymore,” he said. “The prices have come down significantly.”

Pearson says prices start with a four camera install for about $750.

For the ultimate in protection, he recommends a system with a siren.

“Nobody wants to come home to an intruder in their home waiting for them,” he said. “With an alarm that's virtually impossible to do. So you know when you walk in your house, that nobody is in there waiting on you in a closet or something scary like that.”

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