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protect your

cottage property

Tips for Making Your Property
Less Attractive to Thieves

Cottage Watch is a community-based program; to be effective, everyone in the community needs to participate in safeguarding their property and monitoring for suspicious activity. 

FIRST: Get to know your neighbours!

Reach out to your Cottage Watch coordinator if you haven't met. Say "hello" to your immediate neighbours when you're both around. Keep their phone numbers in your phone or on your emergency numbers list for when you need to reach each other.

If possible, have someone stop by and check the property on a regular basis when you are not present. The sooner signs of damage or foul play can be reported, the better it is for both the police and the property owner. Local companies can be hired for periodic inspections as well.

Use this list from the Ontario Provincial Police to make small but effective changes around your property:

OPP home security checklist


As with a house in the city, it is important to make sure the cottage looks like it is being maintained on a regular basis. Shoreline garbage, long grass and fallen trees indicate the property has not been used for an extended period of time.


If your property is a road-access cottage, one option to discourage thieves is to 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 the property might be enough to dissuade a potential break-in.


An alarm system is another way to help protect your cottage from thieves. It is one more factor that could make the thieves think twice about targeting your place.  Camera systems inside and out can give you peace of mind while away from the cottage.


Exterior doors should be fitted with solid dead bolts.  Strike plates should have 4 screws securing them to the frame.  Replace flimsy doors and older windows or consider boarding up windows for the off season. Sliding doors / windows should have a piece of wood placed in the track so they can’t be opened. Download more information about hardwaredoors and windows from the OPP.

Valuable equipment and personal belongings: 

Put away valuables and lock sheds, etc when away from the cottage.  Store car keys in a location that is out of sight within your cottage.  Avoid leaving valuable sporting equipment outside in plain sight while you are away from the cottage. When closing the cottage for the winter consider taking the expensive equipment home. Always remove all firearms and alcohol when the cottage is closed for the winter.

  • Canoes, kayaks and other small personal water craft should not be left near the shore. Instead, bring them higher up on the property and beyond the line-of-sight of passing boats. 
  • Take ladders home or lock them up. Be aware that outdoor furniture, picnic tables and benches can be used to enter the building through a window.  Store them away when closing for the winter.
  • Automatic timers can be a deterrent to keep potential thieves away if they are doing a drive-by in search of possible targets. Having the cottage lit-up at night also makes it easier for neighbours to see if there is any suspicious activity. Outdoor motion sensor lights can also be effective. 


      Engraving personal property can deter a thief from stealing your property. Why? In most cases, when theft occurs, the stolen property is not actually kept by the person committing the crime. In fact, many criminals specialize in the theft of certain items that they resell in bulk. As a result, victims often find that only specific items have been stolen, while other valuable items are left untouched. Items that can be traced back to an owner are NOT very appealing to criminals. This is because:

      • Visible identifiers provide immediate and irrefutable evidence of theft
      • Attempting to remove identifiers from property is time consuming and requires extra work by the thief
      • Property with identifiers or scars left from removing identifiers is not easily sold for profit


      It is important to properly document all of the items at the cottage. This includes taking photos or a video of the inside of the cottage, keeping purchase receipts and recording all serial numbers. It will be easier if you have to file an insurance claim and makes it possible to get stolen merchandise back in the event it is found.

      Operation Identification... a property marking initiative within the OPP SafeGuard Ontario Property Security Program. The idea is simply to engrave your valuables with an identifying number in a highly visible spot to discourage thieves and minimize the loss in the event that a break-in occurs. In the end, the goal is to make sure cottages remain a safe and secure place where you can comfortably relax with family, friends, and guests. Protect your property by marking: 

      • Computer equipment, TVs, DVD players, stereos, cameras, game machines, video equipment and jewelery
      • In your vehicle on: personal property, cell phones and other electronic equipment
      • In your business on: computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, hand tools and other portable equipment
      • In your closet on: expensive clothing, such as leather jackets or fur coats, use a ballpoint pen for similar protection.

      You can find additional advice on protecting your property at Cottage Life, Cottage Tips, and FOCA, or by reviewing information provided by the Ontario Provincial Police

      Thanks to KLA member Rob Horsburgh for his photograph of Wallace Island used as the background photo throughout this site

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