Shed Security

Had a good question asked by Calum about securing your shed, particularly given how expensive this hobby can be become

“I recently found signs of prowlers around our house. This set off the alarm bells, how secure is my garage. How secure is the electronic garage door opener? Better put some bolts on the external doors. Better take an inventory of my tools and also take pictures. Have I kept the receipts of all my purchases?

So Stu, What have you done to secure your Shed? Do you keep an inventory. I imagine there are woodworkers out there with tools that would be very hard to replace. I wonder what the insurance companies think about sheds full of expensive tools.”

Nothing gets me thinking about Indiana Jones type property protection than the thought of deliberate acts to deny me what I have bled to collect together. Of course these days the prowlers seem to have more rights than you do, so I guess I’ll put away Spielberg’s imaginings and settle for what is allowed.

There are a number of things to approach with this topic, and if anyone has additional thoughts – do drop them into the comments!

Door Security – a roller door with electronic opener is ok wrt the electronic door opener is concerned, so long as the (hmm – what’s the polite term?) thief doesn’t get access to the space. If they do, then it is a simple button to override the mechanism and, well…… So give consideration to how strong the other doors are – some rear garage doors are done on the cheap, and use a hollow-cored door (especially if it is accessed from the house), rather than something robust. On any hinged door, give consideration to what hinges you use – can the pin be popped out and the door removed? There are hinges designed for secure doors. Roller doors can be pulled off their tracks, and levered up, so just how secure is any roller door? The one saving grace is because it is a garage, with a roller door it is normally fully visible from the street, so any attempts are going to be loud and obvious. Having security lighting (twin movement sensor floods) is cheap, but make sure the power switch is inside the secure area (eg inside the shed)

Roller doors can be great when woodworking- open the whole space up. On the other hand, because you are facing the street, anyone and everyone gets to see what you have.

Having a big door will definitely help (as in a big labrador!!)

Sometimes getting into the shed space is easier if you don’t go through the door! Is there laserlight on the roof? What are the walls made of? How is the wall material fixed to the structure? Some sheds can be easily entered using a Phillips (X) screwdriver, and unscrewing the few tec-screws holding the walls on! No need for a master key (aka bolt cutter). Speaking of which, if you are choosing a lock/padlock, remember what you are securing. Spending an extra $25 or so getting a better quality of lock is an investment in security. Going cheap is false economy – again remember the value of what you are protecting. I went “high security” for both the padlock, and the hasp and staple for the lock mechanism.

If the thief gets access to the shed, then your secondary security systems have to kick in. Motion alarm is a good start – if the idiot gets a surprise, they might just bolt. They are also very cheap.

Your computer can be a sophisticated security system. With a cheap web camera in the worshop plugged in and some software such as Webcam XP, you have a little security system . It has the option of when it contacts you – it can be set to movement sensor mode, so if more than (eg) 10% of the view changed (such as someone working into the scene), you can choose to have the program email you with photos, or with an email to SMS account, your shed can send you an SMS call for help!

You can even view the inside of the shed in realtime through a web browser.

Now, if the worst occurs, what can we have done to help return the status quo?

Insurance obviously. The company needs proof of purchase – either a receipt for example, or a photograph (photos are a great idea). The biggest danger is under insurance. How is that a bad thing? For example if I have contents insurance for $100,000 (and the shed contents is worth a lot less than that), but the house and shed contents combined are worth $200,000 and I have a robbery and the $2000 tablesaw is stolen I should be right ($2000 being a lot less than $100,000).

No. Being 50% under insured means that any pay out by the insurance company will be reduced by at least the same amount (50%), so you’d only get $1000 as the payout. Sucks huh! So don’t underinsure – the correct amount of cover is not that huge a cost (compared to loosing your workshop).

So photograph the collection, keep a record of all tools in the shop, and any identifying marks, serial numbers where available etc. Engraving or using microdots may also be good options.

Put up a sign on the fence “beware of the dog” and one on the shed “smile- your photo has already been emailed to the police”

Finally, remember that they will only really try to steal from you while you are not there. So (just for security purposes mind), the more time you spend out there, the less likely they will be to steal from you!

Hope that helps!

(I’d still prefer an Indiana Jones suitably sized bear clamp, with blowdarts, a 20′ granite boulder that is set loose if my handplanes are touched etc!)

One Response

  1. Stu,
    Spoke to Insurance company. They like an inventory list with receipts or photos. I have been scanning my receipts. I have been burgled before. It is hard to remember everything you had. This is where an inventory is helpful. Even for inexpensive items.
    cheers Calum

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