How to Secure Your Cabin or Property

secure your cabin or remote property

That piece of remote property that is so far out of the way that nobody will ever find it, much less bother it, is a complete fabrication. Sadly, it’s the stuff of myth. Nowadays, even the most hidden, off the beaten path slice of heaven will have someone stumble across it eventually.

Truth is, property crime in rural areas is as likely, if not more likely, than in suburban areas. And I can attest to that. In the time I’ve owned my parcel of wooded land, I’ve had a trail camera go missing, trees cut down for firewood, and a break in attempt on my cabin. Damn, I’m not sure if I’m an outlier or if this is a common thing with recreational property. At any rate, I’ve become something of an expert at trying to prevent anymore unwelcome incursions.

I use the term cabin here loosely, as at the time it was a shed with a finished interior and insulation. We called it the shabin, as it was a shed with aspirations of becoming a cabin.

I had an overwhelming suspicion, along with some proof, that most of the mischief was perpetrated by my adjoining neighbor. Knock on wood, I haven’t had any further trouble with them since the local sheriff’s deputy paid them a visit.

But aside from calling the authorities, I’ve also proactively initiated deterrents of my own. Below is a list of steps I’ve taken plus a few others to make my cabin and property more secure.

Install Fencing/Gates

Install a perimeter fence around your property to discourage unauthorized entry. Personally I hate fences. The last thing I want to see when roaming my woods is a fence. But you may have a different opinion, and more money than me to put towards a physical barrier around your acreage. Gates will deter anyone from driving right up to your stuff and hauling it off.

Put up signs

If fencing your property isn’t an option, post signs along your property border indicating that it is private land and warning against trespassing. More signs are better. Place them at obvious points of entry.

If they aren’t already, have your boundaries surveyed. When I had trouble with my neighbors mentioned above, a deputy suggested I have the adjoining property line surveyed and well marked. This can act as a deterrent and provide legal protection.

At your cabin, attach alarm system decals or stickers on windows and doors to give the impression that your property is protected, even if you don’t have a monitored alarm system.

Install Locks and Deadbolts

Secure all the doors to your cabin with high-quality locks and deadbolts. Replace the short door hinge screws with long 3 inch screws that penetrate the framing behind the door frame. Do the same with the latch and deadbolt screws.

You might also consider adding a door frame security plate along with a door reinforcer plate. These will prevent an intruder from gaining entry by kicking in your door.

Secure Windows

Install secure window shutters. Metal shutters are best, but you can build your own out of wood if you’re working on a budget. That is what I did. Even screwing plywood over the windows when you aren’t there will help deter someone, or some critter, from getting in.

cabin window protection
Plywood window covers. The screws help deter … see below.

Keep your curtains closed when you are not around. And never leave valuables, guns or tools visible from the outside, even if you are around. Even with signs, I’ve had a few people wander up my drive.

Put up Security Cameras

Install motion-activated security cameras around your cabin and at key points on your property. Install several with overlapping fields of view so intruders won’t try to disable a single camera from behind. Cellular cameras are a good option if you don’t have full time electric service at your property. They are also good for watching trails or access points to your property.

Before you buy make sure you have cell service where you plan on placing them. And purchase a locking mechanism or protective metal box to put them in. I learned that the hard way, having one stolen on my property when I wasn’t there. The thief even had to climb 12 feet up the tree to get to it. The cameras I use now come with built in GPS, so if they are stolen I can track them.

Keep your property secure from animals
Sometimes people aren’t the only ones snooping around

A cheaper option are fake security cameras. They look realistic enough to deter would be thieves from a distance.

Install an Alarm System

If your cabin has power invest in an alarm system. If you don’t have constant power source there are battery operated door and window alarms.

Add to that a driveway alarm that will let you know if someone is coming up your lane. Choose a wireless system so you’ll be alerted immediately when a vehicle or person (or animal) comes along.

Use Outdoor Lighting

Install motion-activated lights around your cabin and any outbuildings. Bright lights can discourage trespassers and make it easier to monitor your surroundings at night.

Monitor from Afar

Use a remote monitoring system that allows you to check live camera feeds and receive alerts on your smartphone or computer. I have no electric on my land, but I do have good cell service. I purchased cellular remote cameras to keep an eye on things. If something trips the camera, I usually get an image on my phone within a few minutes.

Secure Your Valuables

Keep valuable items such as firearms, tools, and electronics securely locked inside the cabin or elsewhere when not in use. Consider buying a safe for firearms and important documents.

If you can swing it, purchase a cargo container. They come in a variety of lengths and condition. I have a 20 foot cargo container that I consider one of my best purchases. When you factor in the square footage and security of an all metal box, it is definitely worth the investment. You’d be hard pressed to build a storage unit with the same footage and security for the same amount of money.

Don’t get complacent and take off for the day to go fishing and leave your generator in plain site of anyone wandering through. Just like good neighbors that keep an eye on your comings and goings, bad neighbors are apt to do the same thing. If they see you hauling your fishing boat down the road, they might well surmise that you’ll be gone for several hours at least, giving them plenty of time to scope out your property.

This brings us to our next step.

Make Friends in the “Neighborhood”

Build a relationship with your neighbors. Aside from the neighbor that causes problems, my other neighbors are really good about keeping an eye on my place when I’m not around. They live nearby full time, whereas I am only at my property periodically. They’ll even drive up to the cabin just to check on it, and make some noise and leave tracks, which helps to make it look visited. As I’m writing this I’m up visiting my cabin. When I drove in, I left a trail through the snow down my lane. One neighbor drove by and saw the fresh tracks, called my closest neighbor, who dropped by to see who was up here.

I can’t stress the importance of community enough. Even if you live in a remote location, it is important to develop good relations with others.

Employ Natural Barriers

Utilize natural barriers such as dense vegetation or rocky terrain to make it harder for trespassers to access your property. The main residential gravel road runs through my property on one side of a thickly brushed seasonal stream bed. It is full of Hawthorn bush and is nearly impassable.

The only way through is a narrow lane that runs up to my cabin. It makes for a convenient choke point that I can monitor with a single camera. When planning where to build your home or cabin, make sure to consider the protective features of the terrain.

Look Like You’re Always Around

Most thieves and trespassers are looking for an easy score. They know that most seasonal cabins are buttoned up when the owners aren’t staying there. So make your cabin look occupied.

There are a number of options to pull this off, from timed internal lights to the more tech savvy smart light switches accessed from a smartphone. I employ low tech methods, like leaving a pair of big old boots out by the door or beside a chair along with a big (emphasis on big) metal dog dish. I have a big dog so it gets used. The old boots I picked up from the thrift store make it look like someone took them off to go inside, and that they might still be in there.

I like big mutts and I cannot lie!

Cool bumper sticker

As mentioned earlier, ask your neighbors to drive up from time to time and maybe get out and walk around the cabin. Tire and foot traffic are good indicators that the place is occupied.

Keep Things Maintained

Keep your property well-maintained, and repair any damage to fences or structures promptly. Take your garbage with you, or secure it so that the critters won’t get into it. Animals can cause as much or more damage than a burglar if they think a free meal is available.

Congratulations, you made it through that list. By implementing these security measures, you can make your cabin and land more secure from trespassers and thieves. Remember that no security measure is foolproof, but implementing a combination of these strategies can significantly enhance the security of your cabin and land.

The FoolProof Method: Roving Clown Packs

Wait, maybe there is a foolproof method. Did I mention clowns? Or better yet, a pack of clowns roving your property. How creepy would that be. Aversion to clowns is a real thing, so even though its a little spendy, consider this life size clown a security investment. Just be sure to chain it up. If I were to happen upon something like that, once my heartrate returned to normal, even I might consider “borrowing” it.

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