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How To Increase Shed Security and Prevent Break-ins

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Few things put a kink into your yard work plans like opening your shed and finding out that somebody has broken in during the night. At worst, you may find that a few easily moved tools such as drills, saws or a duffel bag of hand tools is missing. At worst, you may find a large space where your riding mower or ATV used to stand.

Let’s face it, these days anything that a thief may think he can sell, or pawn is vulnerable, even to scraps of copper pipe or a garden hose. In addition, tools a thief finds in the shed may make it easier for him to break into your house as well, which may have been his main goal. Secure storage sheds are those that make it hard for a thief to break in.

The secret to preventing break-ins in your shed is to increase your shed security, add stronger doors hinges and upgraded locks and motion activated lighting can really help.

How Can I Make My Shed More Secure?

There are many ways to make your shed more secure. Many items that will help are relatively inexpensive and don’t require a professional to install. In fact, you can make many security improvements in just an afternoon.

Eliminate Bad Habits – Other measures come down to eliminating bad habits. If your shed has a lock, use it. Never leave a shed unlocked overnight or while you are not home, even for a few minutes for a quick hardware store run. Put away all your tools when the job is done. Leaving tools out gives thieves something to use to help them break into not only the shed but your house.

Mark your Tools – This makes it easier to have stolen goods returned to you if they are stolen. Etching pens are a good tool that can etch information into metal parts. Try to mark parts that would be hard to reach with a grinder in case the thief thinks he can just grind off your markings. Marking places that would damage the tool if a grinder is used is another good idea.

Mark the outside in a prominently visible place. Some thieves will actually be deterred by a shed full of items obviously marked with identifying information, as it would be obvious that he is in possession of stolen goods if he is caught with them. Then also mark a place hard to see.

Of course, things such as power drills and such don’t have room for this, but larger items have a lot of hiding places. Try etching the underside of an air filter or oil filter cover on your mower. Even if the thief manages to remove or sufficiently distort the outer marking, he’ll think he’s got that covered, and your inner markings will still make the items identifiable.

Do not even think of using your Social Security number. An internet-savvy thief can wreak all kinds of havoc when he has this, especially since he already knows your address. If nothing else, the thief can make a quick buck selling the number to somebody else.

Many people have applied for unemployment or Social Security or filed tax returns only to be told that they have already filed. Somebody with the proper information beat them to it. Don’t use any personally identifiable information to mark your tools. A good idea is to use a password-like code with both letters and numbers that you only use for this purpose.

Trim Large Brushes and Tree Branches – Keep excess tall shrubbery away from the shed, especially around the door and window. A thief may think he can work on these items and be hidden by the growth. Short, thorny bushes such as types of holly or trifoliate orange can really be a deterrent to somebody trying to climb through a window.

Don’t Advertise your Valuable Items on the Internet – We’re not talking about advertising them for sale, we’re talking about posting pictures of yourself on social media on your brand-new ATV or expensive mountain bike, or that sharp-looking zero-turn lawn tractor with the twin cup holders. The internet is a great tool for thieves to investigate who owns what and identify potential targets. Add to that the fact that some people will allow anyone to join their party to accumulate “friends” and you’re just inviting unscrupulous people to snoop.

Good Locks – Shed door security is the first item on this list. Keeping a shed locked is the first precaution you should take and doesn’t cost much. You can get a security lock. Deadbolts are usually only installable if your shed door is structured by a house door. Many shed doors have a design that is not suitable for them. There are many padlocks that should do you well. Just remember to get a good quality lock. Look for one that is rustproof, as it will be exposed to the weather.

The hasp that holds your lock is just as important. Your lock will be useless if a simple screwdriver can remove the hasp holding it. There are hasps available that fold back on themselves, covering the screws when closed. Some are made of hardened steel, preventing hammering, cutting and sawing. If nothing else, try putting superglue on your screws on either side of the door.

How to Choose Shed Door Locks that Are Strong?

Pick the Best Locking System – First, look at your door or doors to decide what kind of locking system will fit the doors. Some locks only work on house-type doors, not simple swinging shed doors. Also, look for locking systems that you can install yourself, if possible. Most handymen won’t bother with a job this simple.

If you can wield a screwdriver, you can install a hasp and lock. Most won’t require drilling. Look for locks that are weatherproof and have weatherproof parts. Your lock won’t do much good if the lock is weatherproof, but the shackle starts to rust. Many will list any special features on the packaging.

If using a padlock, look for such features as hardened shackles and locks that are tamper-proof. Some come with especially small shackles designed to keep them from being sawed through and prevents attacks from bolt cutters. Discus padlocks are becoming popular, as they feature small shackles while having other features that deter picking. Some are very weather-resistant as well.

Stronger Door Hinges – There are security hinges available for your door designed to keep people from removing them or kicking in the door. Security screws should be used to install these. Another choice is to replace hinge screws with carriage bolts and nuts, using superglue on the nuts if you wish. Carriage bolts have rounded heads, making them impossible to remove with a wrench.

Good Location – Shed security starts with the initial planning of your shed. Choose a location out of sight. Many localities, especially homeowners’ associations, require that a shed be located behind the house. You shouldn’t have the shed out of sight of the house, however. Keep a potential thief worried about somebody seeing him from the house. If you have motion sensing lights on the back of your house, anyway, make sure they cover the area to your shed or make sure one of them points to the shed.

Obscure Glass in Windows – This is something most people don’t think of. While a window is great for providing more light inside the shed and aiding ventilation, it’s also a place for a thief to check out the inventory. You don’t need special glass to get the effect, either. There are plastic frosted films available that you stick onto the glass inside.

While these do tend to deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to a lot of sun and heat, the film is fairly inexpensive and easy to replace when needed. Likewise, you can purchase a can of spray frosting. While this is going to block your own vision and some of the light coming into your shed, if your window is fairly high off the ground you might consider just frosting the lower part of the window, leaving the upper part to let in more light.

Good Lighting at Night – Lighting is one of the best deterrents to a potential thief. He won’t even get close enough to check out your locks or window if he thinks he might be easily seen. While lights outfitted with motion sensors are popular, remember that other things might set them off, such as a dog or the rabbit he was chasing. A better option would be a light that automatically turns itself on when it gets dark, eliminating worry for those evenings you have to work late.

For those without electricity running to the shed, there are solar-powered lights that not only come on at dusk automatically but come with their own solar panels to charge them. Many models are surprisingly inexpensive. If you have a window, installing one on that side of the shed as well as over the door is a great idea. If your shed is close to your house, a light on your house that points toward your shed will also give light to that side of your house.

Secure Shed to Ground – Believe it or not, people have been known to move or tilt lightweight sheds to get at the contents, or even just haul off the whole shed and everything in it. If you have a small or lightweight shed, secure it to your foundation or to concrete piers set into the ground. Kits with cables and connections are easy to find, especially at mobile home suppliers. Post holes can be dug and filled with concrete with connections set into the top.

Beware of Dog Signs – While this may not deter every potential burglar, it does do some good. Thieves want to minimize risk, and if they see one of these signs, they probably won’t want to take a chance when there are other houses in the area. Check out some of the humorous signs available. They get the point across while giving your neighbors a chuckle. Another thing you can do is to use some security hinges to prevent burglars from taking the hinges off, read my article How to Use Door Security Hinges on a Shed for more information.

How to Choose a Good Alarm for Your Shed

There are three main types of alarm, based on how the unit detects a break-in. All of them can be installed with little trouble and by almost anyone. Some alarms will text you if they are set off. Some combine two of the technologies. Whatever kind you choose try to get one that has the alarm unit separate from the sensor.

This will keep the burglar from dismantling the system before the alarm can go off. If he smashes the sensor part, the alarm will still go off. Those with battery power indicators will keep you from unknowingly having a dead alarm. Of course, an alarm is only as effective as the owner allows it to be, so forgetting to activate it when leaving the shed renders the alarm useless.

Door and Window Frame Alarms – One part goes on the door or window, the other on the frame. When either is opened, the magnetic contact is broken and the alarm goes off if it isn’t deactivated first. One good thing is that these alarms won’t go off due to weather or an animal, as only a person is going to open the door or window.

Vibration Detectors – Sense movement in the item to which they are attached. They can go on doors and windows, but also the roof if you are afraid someone may try to enter that way. They can be set off by the weather, for instance, strong winds that can cause the shed to shudder. Fortunately, they are usually adjustable as to sensitivity.

You may have to experiment to get the right setting. One advantage is that they often detect a break-in before the thief actually gets to break in. The attempt will set off the alarm, sending him scurrying off.

Motion Detecting Alarms – Detect changes in infrared body heat. While they are popular, they do vary widely in price and quality. Some of the cheaper models can be set off by animals, or even when somebody walks past the window. Investigate the various models thoroughly before deciding on one.

What Types of Sheds are Most Secure?

A steel shed is usually considered the most secure. In fact, one company that touts secure buildings features nothing but steel models. The hinges on metal sheds are made so that the door or doors aren’t easy to pry off or kick in. The doors may come already outfitted with hasps ready for your lock.

Wooden sheds are not only the most popular but are also considered to be secure as well. A properly built wooden shed is hard to break into, especially with a few small modifications, such as adding a good lock and hasp and making the hinges hard to dismantle.


Burglaries can happen anywhere at any time. You may not think you have much worth taking, but a thief won’t know that until he breaks in and sees what’s there. Many people put all sorts of alarms and locks on their houses and don’t even think about the shed. The dollar value of items available in a shed may not come anywhere near the value of things in the home, but the shock of having your property invaded and violated is the same. Keep it safe.


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