With the increased cost of housing, inflation, and unemployment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. is facing record-high numbers of homelessness. As of January 2020, more than 580,000 people in the nation were classified as homeless, according to a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. And as the crisis continues, a terrifying possibility has some homeowners worried.
“Phrogging” (pronounced like “frogging”) is when someone secretly lives in another person’s home without their knowledge. The name comes from the idea of leapfrog, with the intruder hopping from place to place like a frog—whether that be someone’s basement or attic or crawlspace. As if the idea of someone breaking into and burglarizing your home isn’t enough, the thought of someone breaking in and staying hidden for a long period of time while you’re unaware is something akin to a horror movie.
While squatters occupy abandoned properties, phroggers may instead target well-to-do vacation homes that are left empty while their owners are away, or even primary residences that are unoccupied while the residents are on vacation. While the idea of phrogging may be stranger than fiction to most, there are preventative measures you can take if you’re afraid of a secret intruder.
Everyone gets spooked from time to time. Some people are even firm believers that their houses are haunted. But if there are more physical indications that things aren’t right, you’ll have more to worry about than just ghosts. Here are a few signs that a phrogger may be present.
You Hear Strange Noises
Things have a tendency to go bump in the night, from creaky stairs and floorboards to tree branches hitting your windows as the wind blows. But if there are frequent and unfamiliar sounds—even in the daytime—it may be time to investigate. These noises could be anything from a loud thump, to the tinkling of glass breaking, to low music, or even what you think sounds like a muffled voice from within the walls.
You Notice Things Are Missing or Moved
No matter the size of your house or the amount of stuff you own, odd things are bound to disappear now and then. However, if a large amount of your belongings is vanishing without a trace on a regular basis—whether that be food, clothes, money, or expensive electronics—you have every right to be suspicious.
If you leave objects in one place and find them in another not long after, or if you notice things like cabinet doors open, books rearranged, furniture shifted, or appliances left on that you swore you turned off, then it's possible an unwanted guest has been moving throughout your home.
Your Pets Are on High Alert
Animals have a way of detecting things humans can’t. Sometimes a cat will mysteriously meow at the ceiling, or a dog will bark at an empty yard. But animals do have heightened senses—especially sight and smell—and will usually alert you if they feel something in your home isn’t right. If there’s a particular room or space in your house where your pet is most antsy toward, it might be worth checking out, especially if it’s an area you don’t visit often.
You Feel as Though You Are Being Watched
Sometimes you get a strange feeling that you just can’t explain. It’s common to feel the hair raised on the back of your neck, chills down your spine, or goosebumps on your skin every once in a while, particularly if you’re alone. But if you have a feeling you can’t shake that you can’t chalk up to paranoia, it’s best to go with your gut.
How to Tell If Someone Tried to Break Into Your Home
While the odds of someone sneaking into your home and living there in secret are slim, break-ins and burglaries are more common and worth watching out for. If you’re returning to your home after a vacation or long time away and feel that it isn’t quite how you left it, you may be worried that someone has been inside. Here’s how to tell.
Open Doors and/or Windows
If your front door is open, that’s basically a flashing neon sign that someone has been in your house. But even if it’s closed, it’s worth checking any other entry doors, as well as indoor doors that you know you kept closed. Also, be sure to check all your windows to see if any have been open, even slightly.
If nothing checks the above box, you’ll next want to look for evidence of forced entry. When you check to see if your windows have been opened, also see if any of the glass is broken, as someone could have used that to get in. Another immediate sign is if any locks, like to your yard gate, are broken or open. Check the perimeter to see if anything has been tampered with or seems unusual. Something as simple as a missing fence post or an uncharacteristically trimmed down shrub could be cause for alarm.
If the lights are on, that could mean that someone is home—and that might not be just you. If you know with absolute certainty that you turned the lights off before you left, and they aren’t programmed to turn on when you approach, then it’s time to call the police.
Sometimes criminals are smooth and don't leave any hint that they’ve broken in, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t pilfered through your possessions. Once inside your home, check to make sure everything is as you left it. Make sure all your valuables are accounted for, particularly prized items like electronics, jewelry, and important documents.
Finally, if you have a home security system installed, check the footage to see if there has been a person inside your house or on your property. A doorbell camera on your front door, indoor cameras in important areas, and outdoor cameras in your front and back yards are all good tools to see what has been going on while you’ve been away.
If you have suspicion—or proof—that an intruder has been in your home, call the police immediately. Hand over any video footage and evidence of burglary so that they can build an accurate crime report.
If you don’t have a security system in place and find evidence of a robbery, it would be wise to get professionally monitored equipment installed, as burglars have a habit of returning—especially if they find it an easy target.
Preventative Measures for Your Home
There are multitude of ways to protect your home from harm while you’re not there, from installing indoor cameras to door sensors. The more secure your home is, the less likely you are to have an unwanted visitor.
If you have a vacation home and leaving it empty while you’re away gives you anxiety, consider utilizing a vacation rental property management company to rent out your space while you’re gone.
Never worry if your home is secure with a security system through Brinks Home™. With 24/7 professional monitoring and an award-winning Alarm Response Center, we’ll ensure that you’re immediately alerted if someone is where they shouldn't be. Contact us today.
Your request has been submitted.
One of our expert security consultants will be in touch. Together, we'll design a smart home security system to fit your lifestyle.
Complete this form and a Brinks Home™ Security Consultant will reach out regarding building your security system.