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:
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 hardware, doors and windows from the OPP.
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.
PERSONAL PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION & ENGRAVING
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:
LISTS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS:
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.
...is 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:
Thanks to KLA member Rob Horsburgh for his photograph of Wallace Island used as the background photo throughout this site