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Video doorbells are great for deterring criminal activity and capturing evidence if someone attempts to steal your parcels or break into your home.
However, having an expensive video doorbell on the outside of your home brings its own problems and many thieves are opting to take the doorbell instead (or at least attempt to).
To minimise your video doorbell from being stolen, you should screw the doorbell directly to the wall with the security screws and keep the cabling well hidden. Ensuring it is very visible is often a good deterrent too.
In the rest of this guide, I’ll run through the tips in detail and give further advice to help deter thieves and some of the steps to follow if you have been the victim of a video doorbell theft.
- Do Video Doorbells Get Stolen?
- How to Prevent a Ring Doorbell from Being Stolen
- What to Do If Someone Steals Your Video Doorbell
- Theft Protection Policy for Each Video Doorbell Manufacturer
- Insurance for Video Doorbells
- Can a Video Doorbell Be Stolen Easily?
- Can a Video Doorbell Be Stolen Before Capturing Video?
- Can a Stolen Video Doorbell be Used?
Do Video Doorbells Get Stolen?
Yes, video doorbells do get stolen in the UK. There are countless examples of devices being stolen on forums and Facebook groups.
A number of UK police forces, such as Yorkshire Police, have resorted to warning the public about the issue due to rising cases.
As most expensive video doorbells will be unusable once reported as stolen to the manufacturer, they are often sold on to more unsuspecting victims for high prices.
How to Prevent a Ring Doorbell from Being Stolen
It’s almost impossible to completely stop a video doorbell from being stolen, however with these seven tips you’ll be able to make it harder and more time consuming for any potential thief and hopefully deter them:
1. Make sure your doorbell is visible
Whilst video doorbells are useful for capturing evidence, they are best when they act as a deterrent.
Studies have found that the more visible security devices are, the more effectively they deter crime.
You should ensure your video doorbell is very visible. If this is not possible because of the layout of your front door, then you can use security stickers to raise awareness.
If you have a Ring doorbell, security stickers are included but for anyone else you can pick up some cheap decals on Amazon or Etsy.
2. Attach to brick rather than wood
Whilst attaching to your door frame is the quickest and easiest way to attach your video doorbell, if you go to the extra effort of attaching it to the brick, this can be more secure.
In order to do this, you’re going to need a specialist masonry drill bit and ideally, you’ll need a hammer drill or one with an equivalent setting. It’s best to drill into the brick, rather than the cement if possible.
It still won’t be impossible to steal but will make it that little bit harder and more time consuming.
This YouTube video is a good demonstration at how it can be done.
3. Use a tamper-proof cover if available
Certain video doorbells have tamper proof covers that you can purchase, including the Ring 2 and 3 doorbells.
These essentially provide another layer of security that any would-be thieves will need to break through. They are usually accompanied with a padlock.
However, I have searched everywhere to find one of these in the UK but to no avail. What’s going on Ring?!
If you look hard, you may find some generic anti-theft cases available on Etsy, eBay or Amazon.
4. Keep cabling well hidden
If you have a battery doorbell, this is easiest to install and the most effective against theft as there is no way to quickly cut the power.
However, these usually aren’t as sleek looking due to the extra size of the battery and they need recharging frequently. So, many people opt for a mains or ethernet powered video doorbell.
If you have one of these, it’s important to keep the cabling hidden away. Installing the cable on the outside of the wall is not a good idea as it can easily be cut to stop the power, it needs to be installed behind the doorbell and in the wall.
5. Ensure you have cloud storage
If your video doorbell does end up getting stolen, then you want to make sure you have the evidence to provide to the police and to any insurer or manufacturer that requires it.
As the thieves now have your video doorbell, you’ll need to make sure you have cloud storage so that any footage is saved and accessible remotely.
For Ring and Nest Hello users, this will require a subscription to the relevant plan, whereas other doorbells have local storage or a limited amount of free cloud storage.
If you’re looking for a video doorbell without subscription, I can highly recommend the Eufy doorbell. Not only is it cable free, but it comes with a base station that stores all your footage locally, so even if thieves manage to steal your doorbell, you’ll have the entire video of them doing so.
6. Keep your porch well-lit at night
Lighting has been proven as another strong deterrent against theft.
Most thieves might not be aware that video doorbells have night vision (some cheaper ones do not), so the best way to deter criminal activity is by ensuring a well-lit porch.
This can be permanent outdoor lights, old school flashlights with a sensor or you could use smart outdoor lighting and have everything integrated.
7. Don’t rely on your video doorbell alone
This final tip is a broader tip for keeping your home secure.
If you’re serious about home security, then your video doorbell should be one part of your ecosystem.
Try to have additional cameras that cover the same areas, you’ll benefit from having multiple views if anything does happen.
If you have a Ring doorbell and Ring security cameras, then you can take advantage of their linked devices feature which allows devices to talk with each other.
This means your cameras can start recording as soon as your doorbell detects motion and gives you that extra piece of mind if thieves are operating.
A similar effect is possible with other brands too but might require the use of third-party integrations to make it work, such as using Alexa, Google Home or IFTTT.
Extra tip: Keep a note of your video doorbell serial number as this may be useful if something happens to it.
What to Do If Someone Steals Your Video Doorbell
If someone still manages to steal your video doorbell, quick action may help catch the culprit, or at least prevent them from using the device.
Here are the steps to follow if your video doorbell is stolen in the UK:
- Try to get a download of any footage from your cloud storage (or other storage) as soon as possible. Some services delete this after a few days so getting this is critical.
- Take photos of the crime scene and any damage done to the door.
- Report the theft to the police. In the UK, you can use the non-emergency police phone number, 101, or some forces accept online reports. The police won’t always attend a theft like this but will give details for you to share any evidence.
- Once the police have had time to review the case, contact them for a crime reference number. They will also be able to update you on whether they are pursuing the crime.
- Contact your doorbell manufacturer or insurer if you believe you are entitled to a replacement.
If your video doorbell is stolen, the manufacturer may replace it as part of their theft policy, alternatively you may be able to claim on insurance policies, more on this below.
Theft Protection Policy for Each Video Doorbell Manufacturer
Here is the theft policy for each of the major manufacturers:
- Ring – Ring have a lifetime theft protection policy; they will provide a free replacement within 14 days of reporting the theft and providing a verified police report. You can report the theft of a Ring doorbell here.
- Nest Hello – Nest has a theft protection policy; however, this is limited to customers in the United States and Canada. If you live in these regions, you can find out more about the policy here.
- Eufy – Eufy does not have a theft protection policy
- Arlo – Arlo has a theft replacement program providing you have subscribed to their subscription plan. You can read more about it here.
- August – August has a theft replacement guarantee, although you will need to pay for delivery. It’s not clear whether this applies to all countries. You can find further information here.
Insurance for Video Doorbells
If your manufacturer does not have a theft replacement policy, you can usually cover your video doorbell under home insurance or contents insurance.
You might expect gadget insurance to cover smart home devices like video doorbells, but there isn’t yet any providers that do this.
With home and contents insurance, look for policies that specify ‘contents in the open’ cover. This provides cover for belongings that are kept outside, but within the boundaries of your home.
Home and contents insurance will often have high excess and future premiums may be higher once you claim, so it’s only worthwhile if the doorbell is expensive.
Can a Video Doorbell Be Stolen Easily?
Ring, Nest Hello, and other top video doorbells are generally quite secure with backing plates and security screws as part of the design.
Without the correct tools, a thief will struggle to steal the doorbell, however if they have come prepared with the correct tool, it can be easily unscrewed and stolen within a matter of minutes.
This all relies on your installation being top notch and having a solid surface underneath. Some thieves may be able to apply enough force to pull out the screws with the doorbell.
Can a Video Doorbell Be Stolen Before Capturing Video?
Some of the most popular video doorbells such as Ring and Nest Hello don’t have local storage, which means the video is sent straight to the cloud.
This means that a thief could prevent footage being uploaded and stop any notification alerts with the use of a WiFi jammer.
Whilst it’s legal to buy a jammer, it’s illegal to use it in licences frequency bands such as to block WiFi signals.
A thief could use a jammer to stop any smart home products transmitting information whilst they steal it. Of course, this would need to be a pre-determined theft for the thief to have the required equipment and is very unlikely in the UK.
If you do want to protect against this type of theft, you can use a power-over-ethernet video doorbell which connects to the network over an ethernet cable rather than WiFi.
Can a Stolen Video Doorbell be Used?
Some devices can be used when they are stolen, but this is usually cheap video doorbells.
Video doorbells from well-known brands such as Ring and Nest Hello are mostly useless when stolen as the manufacturer will black-list them.
However thieves will often try to sell them on to unsuspecting victims rather than use them for their own purposes.