3-Step Cottage Security System

Well it’s cottage season again, and for those with a second property it’s time to start the worry machine… Did I lock-up my kayaks? Did somebody steal my wood chipper? Did I forget to turn off the water pump and now it’s overflowing?

Anyone with a cottage understands these concerns and of course, there’s no easy way to check on your property. You’re hours away, so you just have to stew on it and hope everything’s fine.

Still, there are some things you can do. Here are three tips to give yourself “cottage peace of mind” this summer.

1. Deterrence. This post summarizes the need for deterrence:

For cottages or secondary properties, however, deterrence is more important. The distance of a cottage or rural property from neighbors or law enforcement can make securing a second residence a challenge.

To establish deterrence, it’s a pretty straightforward checklist: make sure things are locked-up before you leave including your boat, driveway gate (if you have one), tools, etc. The goal here is to deter the casual thief — if somebody’s serious about taking your kayak, they’ll take it. You just want to make it hard enough for the drive-by thief looking for an easy score.

2. Don’t make yourself a target. Be sure to look lived-in, maintain the property, and tuck attractive looking recreational items away, out-of-sight. This post sums up this recommendation nicely, including a good point re: being aware of the fulltime residents nearby. Even if you don’t ask them to watch your place (that’s a big ask), just by introducing yourself they’ll be more aware of your property and when suspicious activity is taking place.

If there are people that stay out at their cottages year-round, I would let those people know you are leaving so they can keep their eye on your cottage. Basically, use common sense. Don’t leave anything of value around when you are not there.

3. Consider a simple security system.
I wouldn’t recommend a full-blown alarm system, especially since I’m on the record that I consider most alarms systems to be overkill for your primary residence, let alone a cottage property. Still, there are some simple, cost-effective options available.

These two posts suggest installation of a burglar alarm with a horn. Really? I can’t think of a quicker way to establish yourself as persona non grata at the lake then to be setting off a foghorn in the middle of the night when a raccoon or deer walks by the motion sensor and there’s nobody around to shut it off.

One alternative to get your peace of mind is through a video surveillance system, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. If you have internet access (many cottages do now), you can use a webcam or IP camera to keep an eye on your place. You can view the camera through a live stream at anytime to see what’s going on, if there’s a motion event, the video will be recorded and stored off-site. We offer a webcam monitoring system called Camcloud which should meet most cottagers needs for low-cost and simplicity.

Of course, having said all this, maybe the best idea is to just go off the grid. No valuables to speak of, no electronics or other amenities, no water pump. Just you, the lake, and the sound of loons. Then you won’t have anything to worry about it.

Isn’t that the purpose of a cottage anyway?

Brendan Harrison
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