Now that we’re on the other side of Thanksgiving, many of the cottages that will not be used as ski cabins will soon be closed for the winter. Because that often means all regular visits will stop, your cottage could be left vulnerable to vandalism or a break-in. In a recent article in Cottage Life magazine, the OPP warned out of town property owners that when they pack up for the winter, the odds of an intrusion increase.
Because of a busy ski season, some properties in Grey Bruce may be a little bit less likely to be completely inactive over the winter, but it is only logical that if there isn’t any activity around your cottage, you’re more vulnerable to a bad guy who is looking for an easy target. The solution, according to the OPP, is to make your cottage or cabin as unattractive as possible to a potential burglar.
This can often be done easily and the small amount of time invested could be well worth it if it keeps your belongings safe and sound. Consider adding these tips to your “Closing the Cottage Routine”:
Lock all doors and windows
Seems obvious, but sometimes cottagers romanticize their vacation properties and love the fact that the front door is never locked. When you’re not going to be around to keep an eye on things, lock up. It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent a burglar from entering. Using a deadbolt is even better.
Remove food from the property
This will discourage burglars of the non-human variety.
Remove or hide your valuables
No one will be tempted to smash a window to steal your computer if they can’t see it. It is always a good idea to remove all valuables from plain sight if you’re not going to be present for a length of time. Take expensive sporting goods items, electronics, alcohol, and other tempting items home, pack them up in a storage shed or at the very least, move them to a room that isn’t visible from an exterior window.
Close your curtains
If a trespasser can’t see what you’ve got, they’re less likely to go through the trouble of robbing you.
Set timed lights
You can pick up light timers at just about any hardware store. Buy a few and set them to come on at logical intervals periodically over the winter. This may give a bad guy the impression that the property isn’t empty after all.
Hide your ladders
That ladder you have hooked on the back wall is practically an invitation. Don’t make it any easier for a burglar to get into your cottage.
Record your serial numbers
Bikes, computers and many other valuable items have serial numbers. Take the time to record them and consider registering the serial numbers of especially valuable items with the police. That way if something is taken from you, you stand a better chance of getting it back when/if the police recover it.
Consider an alarm system
Burglars want to be in and out undetected. At worst, an alarm system will alert police if someone does break in. At best, the signs and stickers showing you have an alarm will be enough to deter a burglar from even bothering to try to get in.
If you live relatively close to your cottage, drop in a few times over the off-season. If not, consider asking a local to keep an eye on your place for you or enlist the services of a property maintenance company. Having a property that’s well cared for and sometimes occupied will make a big difference.