By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – So you’ve packed your bags, you’ve stopped your mail and you’re ready to head out on vacation, but before you go, have you taken steps to protect your home?

The last thing that Mark Beach expected to happen when he was away was to be burglarized. According to Beach, “They took lawn equipment, they took sporting goods equipment. I was just mad.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation there are more than 2-million burglaries in the U.S. each year, with the average loss of just over $2,000 per victim.

But now you can monitor your house while you’re away – just by picking up your smart phone. With the free Presence app, for example, you can turn an old iPhone or iPad into a home security camera and view the live stream from your current phone wherever you might be.

“If there’s motion being detected, it can send you an alert on your phone,” says CNET Senior Editor Bridget Carey.

There’s also the iCam app, a $5 download that works with both android and iPhone devices.

“It taps into the webcam that you have already on your computer. And you can do multiple cameras, too,” says Carey.

Smart gadgets are in high supply too. They range from single camera systems like Drop Cam which costs $149 and features night vision and digital zoom, to advanced, multiple camera set-ups like Logitech Alert that can detect motion, record video and send alerts to your phone.

While high tech devices are cheap and easy to use, there are some potential drawbacks.

“If you have a power failure, your electronic systems might fail. If your internet is down, you may not be able to log on to monitor the video or activate the alarm system,” says Security Consultant Chris McGoey.

And, unlike with a security service, no one’s monitoring your house but you. So Carey says, “You kind of have to put the burden on yourself to be able to monitor when there’s an alert for a motion detection going on, be able to grab your phone and maybe call the police if you are concerned.”

Top Content On CBSPhilly