Simple and Inexpensive Cabin Security for when you’re Away

Unfortunately, we can’t all spend all of our time living up at the cabin.  It’s for that reason that cabins can be particularly vulnerable to break-in, vandalism, and theft.

You would think that a remote cabin in the woods would be safe from burglary, but I’ve been surprised to see and hear about all different types of things that have gone missing from cabin. Some of these have been in really remote places that most people don’t know exist.  That’s because even though they’re in quiet and remote places, for a lot of the time nobody is around. 

So while the area around your cabin might not get a lot of traffic, people who do see it know that they’re not likely to get caught if they break in. 

Here are some inexpensive ways to keep your cabin safe and secure. Some things you can do is secure doors with barricades, secure door entry, get window locks, and set up real or pretend cameras. But that’s not all that you should do to prevent your cabin from getting broken into. Let’s dig further to make your cabin secure.

Let’s make it hard to break into your cabin

I strongly believe that when it comes to security, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure!  If you can keep people out of your cabin, you’ll be way better off than if you rely on insurance to cover damages and the justice system to catch the perpetrator and recover your belongings.  So let’s talk about how to keep people out of your cabin when you’re not around.

Secure the doors with door barricades

Basic door locks are helpful, but not terribly effective at keeping people out if they’re determined or think they have time on their side.  The invention of YouTube has enabled a lot of people to learn how to pick locks.  Or using a simple bump key will do the trick in some cases.  And then there’s always the “kick it in” approach.  That’s why I like to secure my exterior doors using a little more than the traditional method.

I really like to use a door barricade.  There are a lot of options out there.  Some are portable and will help barricade pretty much any door without permanent setup.  The one I like the best is the Nightlock Security Lock Door Barricade.  It’s not the least expensive option, but it’s not too bad and it’s really effective.  See current pricing here on Amazon.  Basically, you just screw a plate to the floor and then there’s a piece that slides into place that physically blocks a door from opening.  You can only remove it from inside though, so it’ll work for any door except the one you use for entry when you first arrive.

Which brings me to my next point.  You should designate one door that’s your entry door.  Barricade the rest and leave this one accessible from the outside.  We’ll talk about how to secure that one next.  You can use either the main door or a side door as your entry point.  A potential intruder won’t know which one it is.  I kind of like the front door.  Most people assume it’s the most secure and it’s usually the one that’s most visible from farther away.  That makes it riskier for the would-be burglar.

Another tip for securing your doors that applies to all exterior doors, including the entry door, is to replace the screws for the door hinges.

Door hinges come with really short screws generally.  Just replace them with 3-inch long wood screws.  This will add a ton more security to your doors, making them a lot harder to kick in or break down.

Secure your entry door

Now let’s talk briefly about the entry door.  You obviously can’t barricade this one.  You need to be able to get in with a key or access code.  What I really want to prevent is someone from just breaking down the door.  Again, this is often easier than you expect.  Even if your door is heavy and solid, the door jamb often isn’t.  And the short screws in the hinges and door plate make it really easy to just break open the door.

The simple solution is to 1) use longer screws on the hinges.  And 2) replace the little plate on the door jamb for the door latch and deadbolt.  You can keep it simple with this plate on Amazon that combines the latch and deadbolt plate into 1.  I like to use a plate like this with 3-inch screws because the longer screws go all the way into the wall frame, not just into the door jamb.  And having this plate makes it considerably harder to break in a door.

It’s actually the plate I used on my front door at home.

You can go even further with this plate that’s 4 feet long.  My brother-in-law installed this at his home and it basically makes it so someone would have to completely bust up the frame around the door to kick your door in.  In most cases, that’s not happening.  The only way someone is getting in this door is by unlocking it.

Window Locks

The locks that come with windows are okay, but not that tough.  Some people have figured out how to jimmy those open.  So if you’re concerned about someone getting in through the windows, add a little extra lock to each window.  This one is only a few dollars and slides then cinches into place in the window track.  So even if someone has learned how to open a traditional window lock from outside, they won’t be able to unlock this.  Plus, they’re really quick and easy to remove from the inside.

Sliding Door Locks

If you have a sliding door on your cabin, they can be notoriously hard to secure.  But there are some simple, inexpensive, and awesome solutions to make your sliding door secure. 

The short of it is this.  If your door is glass, cover it with blinds or a curtain so people can’t see in.  That alone is a deterrent that we’ll talk about in a minute.  But in addition to that, use a good lock.  Sliding door locks are even less useful than window locks.  There’s a lock here on Amazon that’s easy to install and that’s way more effective.

Good locks or padlocks on outside storage buildings

A lot of people will skip the cabin altogether if you have a shed or outbuilding where you store stuff.  Make sure your storage outside has a sturdy door and keep it locked with a good padlock that can’t easily be cut.  Also, don’t have the hinges or the brackets for your padlock on the outside where they can easily be removed with a screwdriver.

Other people may not have the key or the combination to your shed, but anyone can get a hold of a screwdriver.

If you do all of these things, most people will get discouraged and move on to somewhere else.  You can definitely take it a few steps further with monitored security, film on the windows, etc.  But these inexpensive tips should be enough to keep most people out.

Make people think they might get caught if they break in

If someone is patient or brazen enough, then can probably get around some or all of the suggestions listed above.  That’s why I like to add a little pressure to the situation.

I want people to feel like if they try to break in, they’re going to get caught.  To do that, I make them think they either are or at least might be being recorded.  I also like to add some inexpensive alarms that go off if someone breaks in, whether by opening a door or window, or by breaking glass.

Intruders don’t usually know if an alarm system is being monitored or not, so the alarm itself is often enough to get someone to run away.

Real or dummy cameras that are visible

Security cameras are probably the biggest threat to intruders.  But camera systems quickly get really expensive and they require electricity.  If you’re on the grid or have a solar or other system with a home battery, then you can run your camera system with very little power usage.  But if you’re off-grid and use a generator for power, you’ll need something that can rely on batteries only.

There are definitely security cameras out there that run on batteries, but they need to be able to connect either to a closed-circuit system where the recordings are kept, or to a wifi router where the video data can be uploaded to the cloud.  Again, if you’re on the grid that’s no big deal.  But if your cabin is off-grid with little or no internet access, you might not want this.

There are definitely options.  You can shop around for a camera system that will work with your cabin setup.  Or, if you’re on a budget you can go with this simple fake security camera on Amazon that has LEDs that make it look like it’s recording and has infrared capabilities.  It runs those lights on AA batteries that last up to a year.  It has a wire on it that looks like it goes into the wall and connects to the rest of your “system”.

One thing I like about this camera is that it’s fairly prominent.  If you install the camera at the main entry points of the house, intruders will see it and likely avoid your cabin altogether.

Home Security Stickers

That particular camera comes with some bright stickers that alert people that they’re being recorded.  These stickers are great for drawing attention to the cameras.  If you don’t like the bright ones that come with the fake camera, these ones are really inexpensive and look more legitimate to me.

Door and Window Alarms

If real or fake cameras don’t do the trick, often an alarm will.  You can get a fake security system sign for in front of your cabin if you want.  Those are available on Amazon as well.  You can also get some actual alarms that you just place wherever you want them.

When an alarm goes off, an intruder has no idea if it’s calling someone or not.  So it adds a lot of time pressure to their situation.  If getting in is hard and an alarm has now gone off, most people will decide it’s not worth the risk and they’ll take off.  Here are the types of alarms I would consider.

  • Entry Alarms – There are all sorts of entry alarms.  I like the simple magnet-style ones that go off whenever a window or door is opened.  Here’s just an example of one option on Amazon.  You just use a code to set the alarms before you leave, and as soon as a window or door with this alarm on it is opened, the alarm siren goes off.  I like these not just for when I’m away but for when I’m there too.  That way if someone tries to break in while I’m there, I can quickly be alerted.
  • Glass Break Alarms – So what if they don’t open the window?  What if they just smash it in?  Well, often times when people break a window, they’re making a hole so they can reach in and open a door or window.  Climbing through a glass window that you’ve broken sounds like a quick way to get sliced up.  However, if you want an alarm that will go off when the glass breaks, there are alarms designed for that too.  Here’s one available on Amazon.

Take away their reason to break in

There are really only two reasons for someone to break into your cabin when you’re away.

  1. They want whatever stuff is inside
  2. They want some shelter and it seems like a good place to squat

We can discourage the second just by making it hard to break in, which we’ve already covered in this article.  But if people think you have something inside worth taking, they may be willing to accept the risk of getting caught.  So make it hard for them to see what’s inside.

Get some curtains or blinds for all windows or glass doors

It’s really this simple.  Cover your windows.  If people can’t see what’s inside, they’ll be more likely to think twice about risking a break-in.  Especially if you have implemented some or all of the other security measures we’ve discussed.  I use whenever I buy blinds and I usually order curtains on because I can usually find a great price on whatever I’m looking for.

Now you have a good level of cabin security

It’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to keep everyone out.  But even if you implement just some of these tips will go a long way toward making your cabin the least likely one to be broken into in the area.

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