The Sudbury OPP reminds cottage owners that cottage break-ins are crimes of opportunity and thieves will look for easy targets.
Owners of recreational properties need to make them less attractive for thieves before they close them for the season.
One way to minimize the risk of a break-in is not to leave valuable sporting equipment outside in plain sight. When you plan to be away for long periods of time, take expensive equipment home. Remove all firearms and alcohol when a cottage is closed for the winter.
Small boats, canoes and personal watercraft should not be left near the shore. Bring them higher on the property and beyond the line-of-sight of passing boats.
Take ladders home or store them. Outdoor furniture, picnic tables and benches should be put away so they can’t be used to enter a building through a window.
Using automatic timers on indoor cottage lights may keep potential thieves away if they are doing a drive-by in search of targets. Lighting a property at night makes it easier for neighbours to see suspicious activity. Outdoor motion sensor lights can also be effective.
As with homes in the city, it is important to make sure cottages look as if they are being maintained on a regular basis. Shoreline garbage, long grass and fallen trees indicate a property has not been used for an extended period of time.
If your property is a road-access cottage, 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 tahe property might be enough to dissuade a potential break-in.
An alarm system is another way to help protect your cottage and one more factor that could make thieves think twice about targeting your place.
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 off season. Sliding doors should have pieces of wood placed in the track so they can’t be opened.
If possible, have someone stop and check your property regularly. The sooner signs of damage or foul play are reported, the better it is for both police and property owners. Inspections can be done by a local company if you are not comfortable relying on friends or family.
Organizing a Cottage Watch group in your lakeside community is a good idea. They often work in tandem with local police services and are a good way to protect properties in your part of the lake. Most programs include the installation of signs to let people know the program has been established and to remind cottage owners to report suspicious activity.
It is important to properly document all of the items in your cottage. Take photos or video of the inside of your cottage, keeping purchase receipts and recording all serial numbers. If you are a victim of a cottage theft, having papers in order will make it easier for the insurance company when you file a claim.
Sudbury OPP reminds 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 support of front-line officers to help citizens reduce property crime.
As part of the OPP SafeGuard Ontario Property Security Program, Operation Identification is a property-marking initiative to help discourage theft of valuables by facilitating the identification of recovered stolen property. The idea is to 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 marked or etched with an identifying number is considered damaged goods in the eyes of a criminal.
Operation Identification is a basic step to help prevent theft, and discourage thieves and minimize the loss in the event a break-in occurs. The goal is to make sure cottages remain a safe and secure place to relax with family, friends, and guests.
For more information on this program and other safety tips, visit www.opp.ca.