Cottage break-ins are crimes of opportunity and thieves will look for easy targets. With the end of cottage season approaching owners of recreational properties need to make their cottage less attractive for thieves. Here are some suggestions:
Valuable Equipment and Personal Belongings: One way to minimize the risk of a break-in is to avoid leaving valuable sporting equipment outside in plain sight while you are away from the cottage. When you plan to be away for long periods of time, consider taking the expensive equipment home. Always remove all firearms and alcohol when the cottage is closed for the winter.
Boats and Water Craft:
Small boats, canoes and personal water craft should not be left near the shore. Instead, bring them higher up on the property and beyond the line-of-sight of passing boats.
Ladders, Tables and Chairs:
Take ladders home or put them in storage. Outdoor furniture, picnic tables and benches should also be stored away so they can’t be used to enter the building through a window.
Using automatic timers on indoor cottage lights may be enough of a deterrent to keep potential thieves away if they are doing a drive-by in search of possible targets. Having the place lit-up at night also makes it easier for neighbours to see if there is any suspicious activity. Outdoor motion sensor lights can also be effective.
As with the house in the city, it is important to make sure the cottage looks like it is being maintained on a regular basis. Shoreline garbage, long grass and fallen trees indicate the property has not been used for an extended period of time.
If your property is a road-access cottage, one option to discourage thieves is to install a gate at the beginning of the driveway. Intruders want to get in and out as quickly and quietly as possible. Having a gate at the entrance to the property might be enough to dissuade a potential break-in.
An alarm system is another way to help protect your cottage from thieves. It is one more factor that could make the thieves think twice about targeting your place.
Doors and Windows:
Older cabins and cottages have flimsy doors and simple windows that are easily forced open. Exterior doors should be fitted with solid dead bolts. Windows can be boarded up for the off season. Sliding doors should have a piece of wood placed in the track so they can’t be opened.
Informing Neighbours: also If possible, have someone stop by and check the property on a regular basis. The sooner signs of damage or foul play can be reported the better it is for both the police and the property owner. Inspections can be done by a local company if you are not comfortable relying on friends or family.
Cottage Watch Associations:
Organizing a Cottage Watch group in your lakeside community is a good idea. This is often put in place in cooperation with the local police force and is a great way to help protect all properties in your part of the lake. Most programs include the installation of signs to let everyone know the program has been established and to remind cottage owners to be report suspicious activity in the area.
Lists, Photos and Videos of Cottage Items:
It is important to properly document all of the items at the cottage. This includes taking photos or a video of the inside of the cottage, keeping purchase receipts and recording all serial numbers. In the event that you are a victim of a cottage theft, having your papers in order will make it much easier for the insurance company when you go to file a claim.
Personal Property Identification:
Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) remind property owners of a program called SafeGuard Ontario. In partnership with community volunteer members of its Auxiliary Policing program, Safeguard Ontario is a community based crime prevention program developed in direct support of local detachment front line members to help citizens reduce property crime.
In support of the OPP SafeGuard Ontario Property Security Program, Operation Identification is a property marking initiative designed to help discourage the theft of valuables by facilitating the identification of recovered stolen property. The idea is to simply engrave your valuables with an identifying number in a highly visible spot.
A SafeGuard Ontario electric property engraver is available for loan following a SafeGuard Ontario Property Security Review. Property that is marked or etched with an identifying number is considered “damaged goods” in the eyes of a criminal.
Operation Identification is one basic step in helping to prevent theft, and discourage thieves and minimize the loss in the event that a break-in occurs. In the end, the goal is to make sure cottages remain a safe and secure place where to comfortably relax with family, friends, and guests.
For more information on this program and other safety tips visit www.opp.ca or contact locally the Sault Ste. Marie Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or 705-945-6833.