A Comprehensive Approach to Prevent Cabin Burglaries
After the second break-in, we adopted a simple cabin security regimen we are convinced has helped keep vandals at bay. We’ve now been break-in free for 10 years.
Our cabin was broken into twice in the first five years we owned it. After the second break-in, we adopted a simple cabin security regimen we are convinced has helped keep vandals at bay. We’ve now been break-in free for 10 years. Here's what we learned:
The Lived-In Look
Both cabin break-ins occurred during periods of extended non-use, when the thieves realized that no one had visited the property in a while. According to security experts, that lack of use emboldens thieves because they’re confident nobody will show up and catch them in the act.
To protect your cabin from burglaries, try this. Every time my wife and I visit our cabin, we don’t leave without making it obvious we were there. For example, before leaving for home, I switch out my old rakes, brooms, garden cart and other inexpensive yard tools I intentionally leave out in plain view, changing their location relative to where they have been left during the previous hiatus. That way, anyone monitoring the cabin from the road can see signs of activity in the yard, without having to drive or walk down to the cabin itself, negating the added temptation such closer inspection may offer.
If someone does come calling in our absence, the visit is documented in digital photographs snapped by a motion-activated trail camera. Hunters and wildlife photographers use the portable, battery-powered trail cameras to monitor the movements of deer, bears and other game. But trail cams can serve double duty as discreet, affordable security systems, documenting with digital photos the comings and goings of two-legged critters.
The trail cam that my wife and I set up to monitor the area around our cabin when we’re absent has captured some real eye-opening photos. The images include neighbors crossing the property and using our stairway to gain access to the adjacent river, strangers nosing around and peeking in windows, and vehicles coming down the long driveway supposedly to turn around (but taking their time doing so). We now have license plate numbers and detailed images of potential intruders, in case the local sheriff should need them.
Light Up the Night
We also have timers on a half-dozen lights inside the cabin, which we switch around at the end of every visit. Each window has blinds to block interior views and is fitted with a small, battery-powered, stick-on alarm that shrieks when the sensor is separated from the power unit – likewise with the screen door.
In the winter when there’s snow on the ground, we ask our year-round-resident neighbor to drive down the driveway and walk around the property to leave tracks – another sign that even during the off-season, which is prime break-in time, potential thieves risk a rude interruption.
Sources for Trail Cameras
More than a dozen companies offer portable, digital outdoor camera systems known as trail- or game-cams, and most will work to monitor cabins, campsites and other rural sites. Most are battery powered with options for hooking into household current when and where available, and they retail at less than $200, with some basic models selling for less than half that. Several offer solar-power options for long-term use and most use no-flash, infrared technology to capture images or even video clips at night. Here a few places to get your security shopping started: