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When you built the shed in your backyard, security was probably the furthest thing from your mind. It shouldn’t be though, because backyard sheds are oftentimes a prime target for burglars and prowlers, especially if your property is not fenced. That is why you need to take the proper time and steps to secure your shed today.
You may be thinking that there is simply no way someone would want to break into your shed to take the items you have in there. And maybe your shed is outfitted as a workshop and you don’t think it contains any valuables. But it may not be that simple. Many items you may not think are worth stealing, can still be the target of thieves and make your life more difficult. For example, if your shed is a woodworking shop, it’s possible a thief could easily make off with your tools which could make your job difficult next time you went to work in your workshop.
Unfortunately, there is no one-stop fix for instantly securing your shed. But if you implement several of the tips on this list, you will be able to have the peace of mind to know that the items, and space, within your shed, will remain safe for years to come.
1. Establish External Defenses
One of the best ways to deter thieves is to make it difficult to access your shed from the get-go. Of course, if you’ve already built your shed this could be something difficult to change after the fact, but if your shed isn’t yet built, you should consider the building and external defense like a fence.
If your yard is already fenced, build the shed within the perimeter of the fence whenever possible. If your yard isn’t yet fenced, look into building one, even if it only encloses the backyard, and build your shed there.
2. Evaluate Shed Placement
Besides just worrying about an external defense for your shed, you should also consider the placement of your shed (especially if it is moveable and/or not yet built). There are several aspects to consider in shed placement.
Keep It Close
The closer a shed is built to your house, the more a thief will worry about being heard as he goes about his burglary. To further dissuade any prospective thieves, it’s best to build your shed as close to the house as possible.
Is your shed easily visible from the street? If so, this could cause a passerby to notice your shed and think it may be easy to break in. Whenever possible, have your shed in a location where it can’t be seen from the street.
It’s best to build your shed in a location where the light from the house or your back porch easily illuminates the shed. If this isn’t possible, you can also add lights (more on this later).
When you build your shed try to have to door in a place where it is easily visible from a window from the house. This way you can easily look out at any time and see if someone is messing with the door.
3. Clear The Area Around Your Shed
Although an arrangement of brushes and shrubs may add that mystical look to your shed, they also provide an ample place for thieves to hide. Take away their hiding spot by keeping the area around your shed free of bushes and shrubs. If you really want a natural look, consider a few well-manicured flowers right up against the shed instead of plants that are large enough to hide in. Or manicure your bushes and shrubs to be too small to allow ample covering.
4. Fix Shed To A Foundation
Now the theft of an entire shed is rare, but it absolutely can happen and has happened in the past. This is especially true if your shed is of a small size and could easily be loaded into a truck. Help prevent this type of thievery by bolting your shed to its foundation. This is especially easy if you do it as you are laying down a cement foundation for your shed. It’s a bit difficult to do after the fact, but you can hire a professional to help.
5. Identify Structural Weaknesses
If your shed has structural issues, it will be that much easier to break into. This is why it is critical that you keep your shed in good repair as any of the following issues could attract thieves.
Rotting Boards or Holes
These can easily be pulled or cut away to make a hole big enough for a human to go through. And if there are any holes in the walls of your shed for whatever reason, these should be patched up immediately as it is very easy for a criminal to turn a smaller hole into a bigger one.
If your shed has a hole for a window, make sure there is actually a windowpane there. Or if your shed needs to have a doorknob installed, do so, as these are easy ways for a criminal to get in. And covering either with cloth is not sufficient as cloth can easily be cut.
6. Don’t Settle For Small Locks
Although you may be trying to save money when you purchase a small $10 padlock, it’s likely this lock could be damaged by adverse weather, or easily cut by a thief with a bolt cutter. Instead invest in something a bit more expensive, and durable to keep your shed secure.
The best locks will have multiple pins and a construction design that makes them difficult to break into. One of the best is the ABUS 20/70 stainless steel padlock (Amazon link) which offers 360-degree protection and is virtually pick-proof. It can be used with a maximum-security chain link (Amazon link), or a basic padlock set up (Amazon link), but make sure your padlock set up is not flimsy and is well attached to your shed in a way that it can’t be easily unscrewed.
7. Window A/C Units
If you like to work in your shed in the summer, it may be necessary to have an a/c unit installed. Although installing a window unit may be more convenient, be aware that you never leave the window a/c unit set up and unsupervised. This is because it is very easy for a thief to simply remove the window unit and climb inside the unsecured window! Prevent this by removing your window set up and locking the window every time you leave your shed unattended for any length of time.
8. Check Hinges
Sometimes, when you order a prefabricated shed, the hinges with are included are flimsy and weak. Switch these out instead for a set of hinges with a non-removable pin (Amazon link) which is much more secure and is significantly more difficult to tamper with. Also, keep an eye on your hinges regularly, and if they start to get loose or weak, be sure to fix or replace them so a thief can’t easily access your shed by pushing down the door.
9. Supervise Access
It’s likely that people outside your family, such as contractors, house sitters, or gardeners may need access to your shed for a variety of reasons. And sadly, these people can easily become petty thieves if they see something the like while they are accessing your shed. This can easily be deterred by ensuring you are there any time anyone accesses your shed. This may be impossible, however, especially in the house sitter situation above, so in these cases, consider installing a security camera.
10. Consider A Security Camera
As mentioned above, it can be extremely difficult to always monitor access to your shed, so you should definitely look into installing a security camera. Many people don’t consider security cameras because they think they are expensive, but honestly, depending on what you are storing in your shed, a security camera will probably cost you a lot less than a theft will! A nice set of three motion-activated cameras (Amazon link) usually runs about $200, but you can also buy an individual security camera (Amazon link) linked to your phone for under $50.
11. Consider An Alarm
You can even go a step further and consider installing an alarm system for your shed. If you already have an alarm system for your house, call the alarm company and see how much it would be to include your shed. If your house isn’t already covered by a security system, you can also purchase your own door alarms (Amazon link), which alarm when the door is open, and install them yourself. Generally, these are easy to install and you can even buy some alarm sets (Amazon link) that will send alerts to your phone when the door is opened.
12. Cover Windows
This one is easy, if your shed has windows, leaving them uncovered can invite someone to look inside and possibly see something they would like to steal. Instead, it’s recommended that you install dark curtains over all the windows. If your shed is really just for storage and aesthetic doesn’t matter, you can also cover the windows with newspaper or get a can of frosted glass spray paint (Amazon link) and use it on the window so that nothing inside your shed will be visible to anyone trying to get an idea of what you may have.
13. Secure Valuables Inside The Shed
Securing your valuables inside the shed may sound complicated, but it can be necessary if you have higher-priced items such as expensive bicycles or an ATV. This is an easy security feature to add yourself after you have built your shed, and can typically be used on any type of flooring. They aren’t 100% foolproof, however, because they can be ripped out of wooden floors if the thief tries hard enough. But if you have concrete floors, there is no reason not to invest in a few anchors (Amazon link) for your most expensive items.
14. Mark Expensive Items
This security tip is definitely not the most recommended one on the list, but it can work on a few big-ticket items. Marking expensive things usually means engraving your name on them in a permanent fashion. Although this will deter thieves looking to steal things for retail value, it generally does nothing against thieves who are stealing for their own personal use. What’s more, is if you ever decide to sell the item, it damages your retail value as well.
But, if this is a route you want to go down, you can easily buy an inexpensive engraver (Amazon link) online to mark your most prized possessions.
15. Light The Area Of Your Yard With The Shed
As discussed in the section on where to place your shed, the lighting of the area your shed is in can go a long way towards deterring any might-be thieves. If you can’t place your shed in a well-lit area, you can consider purchasing lights to place on your shed. The best ones are those which are battery (Amazon link) or solar-powered (Amazon link), and motion-activated so that they don’t drain the batteries too quickly. Some can even attach to your camera system and send notices to your phone. Just make sure whatever light you do get is waterproof and doesn’t have any exposed chords that a thief could easily cut.
16. Keep Inventory
Keeping an inventory of your shed is always a good idea and this means knowing the serial numbers of big-ticket items. This way, if an item goes missing, you will have a better chance of recovering it. This is especially important for electronics which thieves usually steal with the intent to sell. Even if the items you wish to sell don’t have serial numbers, there are some other reasons keeping an inventory can be important. More on this below.
17. Check Your Insurance Policy
In most cases, you are required to have homeowner insurance on your house, and in some neighborhoods, this policy is also required to cover any outbuilding (like sheds) on the property. Whether or not this is the case in your neighborhood, you should look into the details of adding your shed to your home insurance policy. You may find it is only a dollar or two more a month and that they may cover the cost of any expensive items.
If your insurance policy does cover your shed, or you decide to add it, then it is definitely important that you maintain an inventory, with photos, of all of your items. Because in the case of theft, this inventory and photos will probably be requested by the insurance company in order to prove ownership before you are reimbursed.
18. Get A Dog
This is probably the most difficult item on the list, especially if you don’t already have a fence in place. But if you are building a fence for your shed, consider getting a dog. Unlike most electronics, dogs are much more difficult to tamper with, and they will probably alert you whenever anyone enters the backyard. Not only that, but most thieves are easily deterred by the sound of a barking dog as they never know if the dog may bite.
If you do decide to adopt a furry friend, keep in mind that a small dog such as a Chihuahua probably won’t deter anyone and that you will need to get a larger breed of dog. Also, dogs are a lot of work, so make sure you are ready to take on the responsibilities of being a pet owner before you take one on just for shed protection.
19. Find Out About The Neighborhood Watch
If you live in an area with an HOA or other overseeing authority, it’s possible your neighborhood may have a program where neighbors help keep an eye on each other’s homes and have a way to report any suspicious activities. See if your neighborhood has one of these, and what you need to do to sign up. Usually, it is just as easy as providing your phone number and address, which will enable your neighbors to call you directly if they notice something happening on your property.
20. Understand What To Do When You See A Burglar
Even if you do everything on this list, there may come a day when you look out your window to see someone burglarizing your shed. The most important thing to do is stay calm and call the authorities. Take note of what the burglar looks like so you can describe them to the authorities, but don’t do anything which may compromise your safety. You never know if a thief may be armed or not.
Overall, sheds are unfortunately a very easy target for burglars and thieves. Properly securing your shed is no easy feat, and the tactics you choose will vary based on your particular shed. But once you have employed the right security measures for your shed, you can sleep easy at night knowing your most prized possessions are safe.