Spring weather ushers in the start of yard work and house projects for many, as long-shuddered sheds see daylight and tools and supplies flow in and out.
Unfortunately the warm weather has coupled with an uptick in shed burglaries, Baltimore County Police said. Such theft has increased in the past month, particularly in Precinct 1/Wilkins, Precinct 6/Towson, Precinct 8/Parkville, and Overlea. The burglaries often occur in the afternoon or overnight.
In response to this trend, police are reminding residents,and business owners to fortify their sheds, making sure doors and windows are sturdy and locks are being used, even while residents are home.
When it comes to buying a lock, though, police said not all are equal, and burglars know what to look for when hunting for vulnerable targets. Thieves have advised police as to what security tools work best.
One burglar told police that hidden shackle locks are effective at keeping criminals out, police said. Shackle locks are familiar sights on tractor trailers, securing their towed cargo, but they can also be used on sheds and other outdoor structures.
A shackle lock is effectively a padlock, but with the often U-shaped bolted end largely covered by the body of the lock. This makes them hard to cut off with bolt cutters. It leaves burglars trying to pry such locks off of doors, which is time consuming and loud, two obstacles burglars like to avoid. Shackle locks tend to cost about $10.
Beyond locking the entry ways to the shed, applying locks to machines within the storage space provides a second level of protection, stopping thieves who may get through the first line of defense from walking off with valuables.
Police recommend using disc brake locks. These locks attach to the wheels of bikes, dirt bikes, and All-Terrain Vehicles. Some even include built-in motion detector alarms. Such locks can often be found online, at motorcycle shops, or at home improvement stores, costing about $15.
You can go an extra step and also lock tools or vehicles stored in sheds to poles or heavy equipment, making it even more difficult for a burglar to remove them.
Keeping the area around your home, and around your shed, well lit is also a strong deterrent.
“Lights are kryptonite to burglars,” police said. “They like to work in the dark.”
Finally, if thieves thwart locks and other security measures and walk off with your belongs, rightful owners can often be stymied in getting their goods returned if they can’t prove recovered property is theirs, or if it is easier for thieves to sell.
One way to combat this is to make sure you keep records of your belongings and leave identifying markings. By keeping a journal listing the make, model, and serial number of valuables like bikes, mowers, and other outdoor equipment, a record will exist to double check against goods recovered by police. Having pictures of your property can also prove useful when dealing with police or insurance companies following a theft. Engraving valuables with initials, contact info, or license numbers can be helpful and uniquely identifying, but police stress not to use social security markers or other such sensitive information.
Locks, lights, and labels – a three-step security system to keep sheds safe.