How to prevent theft at your cottage

As cottages get more expensive and elaborate, they can be attractive targets for thieves. Here’s how to outwit thieves.

Gone are the days of the simple no frills cottage. Today’s summer getaway is a residence all onto its own with expensive watercraft, dirt bikes and pricey fishing gear lining the sheds and outside walls. Step inside and you’ll find high end home theatre systems, fully stocked liquor cabinets and the owners’ personal electronics.

Even worse, the thieves’ job is made easier by the fact that most cottages are empty for up to ten months every year. Fortunately, there are many steps cottage owners can take to reduce their risk of being the victim of a break-in.

Determine your risk level

Some properties are at higher risk than others. For example, cottages with water access present an extra avenue of approach for thieves. Boats don’t leave tracks in the water unlike cars on snow and sand making it easier for robbers to disguise their approach to a given cottage.

This may drive thieves to target waterfront properties.

Moreover, lakes are empty during the fall months as cottagers don’t venture out over the water in the cold meaning that there are fewer people to keep an eye on the area and break-is may not be discovered until many months later.

Reduce your risk level

Being proactive and applying a bit of common sense go a long way toward mitigating these risks.

Start by stowing your valuables out of sight in a shed, the garage or inside the home.

Leaving expensive equipment in the front yard in full view from the street or across the water may catch burglars’ attention. Don’t clue them in that you have these items.

Even when leaving your cottage briefly, such as to run an errand, take a few extra minutes to put away and lock up the equipment.

Don’t leave boats, canoes and Jet Skis near the shore if your property is at the waterfront. Bring them closer to your windows and out of sight from the open water. The same approach applies to the interior: keep expensive electronics inconspicuous and not easily seen from the outside.

If you’re going to be gone for a while, consider taking equipment home or place it at a protected storage space. And when closing your cottage, take all valuables, firearms and alcohol with you.

Another way to deter thieves is to make your cottage appear occupied. You can do this by illuminating and maintaining your property. Automatic lights that go on at night on their own accord and motion sensors that react to movement will take care of the lighting.

As for maintenance, arrange for local grass cutting and cleaning services to avoid making your property seem unoccupied.

Other tools

Once your valuables are under wraps and the yard is uninviting to robbers, you’re not done yet – there are yet more precautions you can take.

One option is to install a gate at the foot of your driveway. Gates will slow down intruders and its presence may be enough to discourage this class of criminal who looks to get in and out as quickly and quietly as possible.

Speaking of quiet, make sure to set up an alarm that can shatter the night silence and draw attraction to the robbery to scare away the bandits if they do make a move on your property.

Finally, beef up your windows and doors. Some cottages are outfitted with thin and flimsy frames that are easily broken. Some solutions include fitting deadbolts, boarding up windows when leaving in the fall and installing durable locks.

Join forces with your community

Make a few trusted friends among your neighbors. Establish rapport with them and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Leave your contact information with them where they can easily reach you in case of any improper activity at your cottage.

You can also join a neighborhood watch organization to band with other cottage owners in the area.

Regular checks and inspections can also safeguard your property. These services exist in case you’re not comfortable with your neighbors checking your residence.

If a break-in does occur, contact the police as soon as possible and don’t touch or rearrange anything to avoid damaging evidence at the crime scene. After the police investigate, document damage and take stock of any losses, then contact your insurance broker to initiate a claims process, and arrange repairs and compensation.

How do you secure your cottage? Let us know in the comments below.