How to Properly Secure Your Backyard Shed from Burglars

Shed with lock

Over the last few years, there’s been an increasing trend amongst homeowners who have the space on their property for a shed to transform these outbuildings from simple storage spaces into little enclaves of pleasure.

For those with the time and money to invest into what is often a total makeover from the ground up, such a refurbishment offers so many options.

Many once unassuming sheds have now been given over to various hobbies, sports, man caves, craft rooms, home offices – the design possibilities are endless.  Moreover, sheds are often used for storage and end up storing many valuables, which makes it doubly important to ensure your shed is secure and protected.

But regardless of whatever it is you wish to dedicate your now customized shed to, what all homeowners can agree on is just how crucial the issue of security is. Whilst your house itself might be well covered, a number of thieves will see the separate building as an easier target filled with rich pickings.

Such a form of crime has reached an epidemic portion in parts of the UK to the point that regional police forces have had to establish dedicated campaigns in order to crack down on those behind the thefts, but if it’s your property, then you need to shoulder the burden of responsibility as well.

What Do I Need to Protect?

The first place to begin when formulating your protective measures for your shed, is deciding on what is going to live within it that could potentially be of value to burglars. If for example your shed has been converted into some form of workshop, then what exactly should it contain?

Whilst larger furnishings such as a workbench or desk of course might be a full-time fitting, consider the tools that you would inevitably need with such a hobby. Power tools and craftsman’s tools may seem unglamorous but can fetch a pretty price and are difficult to trace, so it comes as no surprise that they are the target of many break-ins.

Therefore perhaps it would be better to store appliances such as this within your main house interior. While it can be a slight hassle having to move various appliances to and from every time you wish to use them, doing so is far less time-consuming than if they are snatched away for good.

This of course isn’t always possible though, as a TV for instance is far too heavy and cumbersome to shift back and forth on a constant basis. To avoid such valuable electronics in particular from being targeted, consider investing in the means with which to secure them to wherever they are situated. Countless wall mounts and other means of fastening products of all sorts exist and mean if a burglar should gain entry to your shed, then they will be unable to abscond with your goods.

Ultimately though, common sense should tell you what has to stay in the shed and what should alternatively be kept close to you, and it is this thinking that should form your first (and arguably most effective) line of defence.

This is a clear example of affording a burglar too much cover. Note the fence, trees, and bushes that could easily conceal a grown man.

This is a clear example of affording a burglar too much cover. Note the fence, trees, and bushes that could easily conceal a grown man.

Establishing Your External Defences

Ultimately though, whatever pre-emptive measures you may take, you still need to be ready in the eventuality that your shed is deemed a low-risk/high-reward target by criminals. With this in mind, we must put ourselves in the shoes of somebody seeking to commit such a robbery and answer a series of questions. These are:

  1. How visible will I be whilst gaining entry and making a get-away?
  2. Are there any immediate physical obstacles to obstruct my progress?
  3. Is there the possibility that some kind of authority could arrive on the scene?

How visible will a thief be gaining entry and leaving your property?

Beginning with the first question, visibility or rather the lack of it, is an integral factor in determining how vulnerable your outlying building may be. For decades research into criminology has found that burglars will often target properties with some form of ‘environmental risk’, which simply means those with plenty of cover that can obscure their approach, acquisition, and departure.

Place shed close to your house

Therefore you’ll be doing yourself a great service by firstly ensuring that your shed sits in close proximity to your house itself and secondly by clearing its proximity of any spots of reduced visibility. Ideally ensure that the shed is easily viewable from a window, and that a great volume of light can be brought to bear on it if you suspect an intruder.

Shed window coverings

Speaking of light though, what you have on the exterior in terms of windows can play an understated but significant role. Shutters or even any kind of blinds can obscure your high-value items from view, and from anyone scouting out your property considering whether or not it’s worth them making a move on your shed.

Alarm system

If you have the budget as well it can be immensely valuable to acquire an alarm system or CCTV cameras overlooking the shed and its contents. Whichever you may opt for, don’t make the mistake of concealing them away. They should both be highly visible as a warning to criminals that they will be noticed and even if they do get away with your goods, in the case of CCTV, they can subsequently be tracked and brought to justice.

Although incapable of actually getting in the way of a determined burglar, the effectiveness of such observation devices was proved in the aftermath of the 2011 London riots, with the analysis of 200,000 hours of footage leading to the arrest of more than 5000 criminals.

At the higher end of the market, there are those alarms that come with round the clock monitoring by the police or some other private force that will immediately dispatch somebody to check on the welfare of your property. Such an arrangement is particularly useful if you’re away for an extended period of time and once more can persuade criminals to look for easy pickings. If they know that the slightest error or misstep can bring somebody trained after them, then how much of a priority can your shed really be when there are almost certainly going to be less guarded targets unfortunately out there?

Neighbourhood watch

With this in mind, it’s very much worth looking to see if there’s some form of neighbourhood watch close to you in order to provide collective security. The more pairs of eyes and ears on any part of your property the better and the only cost to you is looking out for others as you would for yourself. Regardless of the size of your budget, this is one avenue of defence that you certainly shouldn’t neglect.

Again, whilst attempts here have been made to give the shed’s contents some privacy, the nearby bushes again would give an intruder something to hide behind as they approach.

Again, whilst attempts here have been made to give the shed’s contents some privacy, the nearby bushes again would give an intruder something to hide behind as they approach.

Inside the Shed

Yet even with the most effective protection in place outside the shed, a skilled (or lucky) burglar may still possess the ability to bypass your security measures. Therefore it is integral to confront with them with yet another layer of counter-measures so as to make their life as difficult for them as possible.

Is there the possibility that some kind of authority could arrive on the scene?

Now that the threat to your valuables is an internal one it stands to reason that any obstacles that could hinder their movement are at this point somewhat obsolete. The focus now should be on making sure the thief breaks off their objective and vanishes, and the most effective way to do so is with some form of alarm systemPolice recommend installing one as part of a more robust protective shield, that must be disabled with the correct code in a matter of seconds before the alarm is triggered to alert all nearby.

Effective as that sounds though, it relies on there being somebody capable of reacting instantly to see what the source of the disturbance is. Understandably the majority of people might not fancy confronting a potentially violent intruder without a moment’s notice, so other measures are needed along with the alarm.

Locks

Whilst it might not be as high-tech as a camera or an alarm, you can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned series of locks and hinges. Ensure that everything is properly installed and maintained, and in particular that any screws cannot be unscrewed to gain entry. If you want to be extra crafty, consider this idea, which recommends combining various makes of equipment so that just one tool will be insufficient for completely taking your shed apart.

Anchor valuables

Should all else fail and your outside defences not be enough, consider simply anchoring your most valuable items down. There are some forms of fastenings that unless your intruder has a blow-torch or similar heavy-duty machinery, they could spend hours trying to remove and not make a scratch. If you’re storing a bike or other sizeable item that can be carried away, locking it down with the right product really means locking it down!

This is a great example of a well-thought out shed design. The minimalist design not only gives the owner more space, but there is very little for anyone to steal. Notice the lack of windows as well which would advertise the status symbol that is a billiards table.

This is a great example of a well-thought out shed design. The minimalist design not only gives the owner more space, but there is very little for anyone to steal. Notice the lack of windows as well which would advertise the status symbol that is a billiards table.

What to Keep in Mind

Ultimately, the protection you give your shed as with anything else you own will only be as strong and effective as the amount of time and money you are willing to invest in it. Whilst a shed might seem comparatively unimportant compared to the rest of your property at first glance, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the shed and its contents just as much yours as is anywhere else that you own, but they are such a versatile and valuable addition whether large or small, capable of fulfilling so many uses.

Although of course there is no 100% fool proof way of keeping out committed and crafty professional thieves, common sense is the primary element you cannot do without. Just as you wouldn’t walk through a rough part of town with your valuables on display, you shouldn’t leave them out on display for the world to see just because you’re at home. Even just opting for some of fencing that obstructs the view can play a real difference, and without sacrificing your aesthetics in the slightest- you can even use a variety of online software to see how it would look before construction gets underway!

Yet don’t make the mistake of equating bigger and more expensive products with them being universally better than their alternatives. Whilst the pricier option does tend to come with more features, covering your shed in tons of accessories and gadgets can actually have the opposite effect of deterring criminals. Something so heavily guarded must contain something valuable and there will always be that small minority willing to risk it all in the name of profit.

The balance therefore has to be struck between a good level of security and making sure your shed does not overtly stick out in a tempting way. Prevention is always better than the cure so as we discussed earlier, ensure that the approach is as fraught with as many detection risks as possible rather than installing a small army of devices on every possible surface. A handful should do the trick in all honesty, with each providing a dedicated function contributing to the greater whole.

For the sake of simplicity, these key functions can be considered as:

  • Lighting – To remove any shadows for hiding in.
  • CCTV Camera – For surveillance and to record any wrongdoing (also integral to any future police inquiry/prosecution.
  • Locks – Naturally, to prevent entry to anyone without a key.
  • Alarm System – As a warning to yourself, the neighbourhood and potentially an external authority that something is amiss.
  • Window coverings – So potential thieves cannot determine whether there are any valuables worth breaking and entering your shed for.
  • Safe – As a last but incredibly effective defence against forced entry.

All together, addressing each core issue with these devices will keep you protected against the overwhelming majority of intrusions. If a burglar was skilled enough to avoid each and every device without leaving a shred of evidence, then it’s unlikely that any more would have made a difference in stopping them. Having the right insurance coverage for your possessions is therefore also vital, but is a discussion to be had another time.

 

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