Protect your Amazon Prime Day Purchases from the clutches of the dreaded Porch Pirate!

Without Amazon and the ability to shop online, I think many families would have been hit much harder during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Retail therapy, one of my main mechanisms of anxiety reduction, was put on hold earlier this year when Amazon noted they were going to have significant delays in shipping. We went from getting several boxes a day to getting a few boxes a week to every other week. In that same period of time I had friends who reported that packages were disappearing from their porches at an alarming rate.  According to an October 2019 study by the team at security.org, package thefts increased by 13% from 2018 to 2019.  Based on their research, nearly four-in-ten people have been the victims of dastardly porch pirates. Furthermore, as online shopping increases, as desperation to find essential items increases, and as the lucrative $605 billion in online shopping prey becomes more abundant, these numbers will likely increase. So, what can you do to protect yourself, your family, and your purchases? Outside of scheduling deliveries when someone is home, arranging a safe drop site (deliver to work, install a lockbox, use an Amazon Locker or deliver to a neighbor/family member who is always home), giving the delivery person access to your home, the best option is a reliable video doorbell system.  

Vivint SmartHome, my home alarm and automation system, has been a part of my family for nearly a decade.  Over that period of time, I have enjoyed several upgrades to the system.  Starting with window and door sensors, I moved into smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  From that point, we added automated door locks, upgraded the Go Control Panel to the Sky Control Panel, added outdoor cameras, lamp modules, and a doorbell camera.  Moving well beyond a simple monitored home alarm system, my Vivint Smart Home system started to feel more like Tony Starks’ Jarvis.  Despite all of the upgrades, my favorite add-on was the Vivint Doorbell Camera 1.0, which added two-way communication to my front door.  With the added tech, I gained motion detection, the ability for mail delivery personnel to communicate by pressing the doorbell, and ultimately my children caught on and used it to contact me at work. Beyond motion detection and alerts, the previous iteration of the Doorbell camera was incapable of thwarting would-be thieves.

Recently, Vivint SmartHome has moved beyond the Sky Control Panel and the Doorbell V1.0.  Expanding into the Vivint Smart Hub and the Door Camera Pro, the Vivint setup was designed to do more than to simply monitor your surroundings and to alert you when someone/something was present.  With an Industry-leading Smart Sentry AI, live video streaming, built-in speaker and microphone, HD recording, 180 x 180-degree field of view, smart detection, night vision, and App integration, this setup was designed to not only alert you to porch pirates but to stop them cold.  As a package is delivered, the camera AI will send a notification to the App that a package was present.  It will then ask if you want to activate the “Deter” mode.  If you activate the mode, the camera will continue to watch the package until you tell it to stop.  If someone approaches the package, the Smart Sentry AI will activate the lower red ring and will whistle at them.  The sound will attract the person’s attention, will cause them to look up, and you will be able to capture an image of their face directly.  The whistle should alert the person that their presence and actions are unwelcome and should deter further activity.  Typical thieves work to capture easy targets and do not want to have their picture taken, nor do they want confrontation. By drawing attention to their actions, the camera actively works to protect your package.  

The Doorbell Camera Pro active-delivery-protection adds a significant boost to the Vivint ecosystem.  The system will continuously monitor your porch and when packages arrive, an auto-on sentry will keep an eye on your delivery.  If at work or on vacation, you can remotely unlock your door to allow friends/family access to your home.  If you pair the Vivint SmartHome with a MYQ  Chamberlain Group Garage Door Opener, you can remotely open or close your garage door.  At the time of this review, the Doorbell Camera Pro enjoyed best-in-class 180-degree field of view.  As the widest and tallest setup on the market, the camera will see more of the porch including directly under the camera.  The 65 dB speaker will whistle and let the person know that the camera was recording and all the while, the camera recorded in 1080p HD detail.  Measuring in at 4.6 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches (118 x 37 x 33 mm), the 3.8-ounce white camera will add a pleasing aesthetic to any home.  If you have a 2.4/5GHz, 802.11 b/g/n/ac band WiFi, you too can enjoy the peace of mind of an extra pair of eyes. 

As an upgrade to the previous edition of the Doorbell Camera, the current Doorbell Camera Pro does not alert you to every motion.  Instead, it can distinguish from a passing vehicle, from a dog, from a tree branch, and a person or package.  If someone lingers long enough, or if they meant to approach your home, the Camera will activate and record a Vivint Smartclip.  Unlike other devices, including the Doorbell V1.0 that record short snippets, the Vivint Doorbell Pro Smartclips do not stop recording until the activity is done.  Thanks to the high-powered IR lens (850nm), these features are not limited to daylight hours; you can enjoy high definition monitoring at night as well.  Once Vivint professionally installs your Doorbell Camera Pro, you will need to walk through the App setup.  In under a few minutes, you should be up and running. The intuitive App design paired perfectly with the sleek doorbell camera and state plainly, simply worked. Once you tell the App the location of your doorbell camera  (When facing the door is the doorbell to the right of the door, to the left of the door, or on an adjacent wall) the view stabilizes. Select which of the ringtones you would like: traditional, elevator, modern, bells, or melody chime, and then select to share the data with Vivint to make the camera more accurate with time. Activate deter while you are away or upon notification.  Change your alert tone from friendly, to scale, to yellow, to whistle (my favorite), to alert, to light the only mode. 

With Amazon Prime Day in full swing and Christmas just over a few months away, purchase to your heart’s content and rest peacefully knowing that Vivint Smarthome is on Sentry Duty.

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