A lot of folks assume that they don’t need to protect their shed. It’s just a storage area for out-of-season junk, right? Even though the lawnmower sitting in your shed for years isn’t worth much now, consider the collective value of your shed’s other contents—bikes, power tools, and gardening gear. Despite holding such valuable items, many sheds aren’t very secure.
Whether your shed is next to your home or not, treat it with the same level of security as your home and yard.
Find out everything you wanted to know about shed security in our complete guide to spotting and fixing seven common shed vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability: Run-down sheds with obvious patches of rotten wood, rusty metal, and loose boards provide little defense against thieves.
Prevention: Maintain newer sheds so they never deteriorate into sagging husks. This can protect the shed from break-ins and also prevent a leaky roof or rotten walls from damaging your tools.
Possible fix: If your shed already has structural issues, it’s time to roll up your sleeves to fix it.
Make a list of every problem area in the shed, whether it’s rusted metal, rotten boards, peeling paint, or missing shingles on the roof. Take photos with your smartphone if you need extra help making a comprehensive list.
If the fixes are simple, take a list of materials to the hardware store and get what you need. If you have a limited budget, prioritize by tackling the biggest problems one at a time.
Fix wall panels.
Reinforce the internal structure with new beams.
Replace rotten window frames or doors.
Patch up holes in the roof.
Add a fresh coat of paint or sealant to the outside of a wooden shed.
If the shed’s beyond repair, you can make temporary patches to protect your tools. But it’s best to act as quickly as your budget allows when you ultimately need a new shed.
Close and secure yard gates to make it difficult for criminals to access your shed. You can also plant small thorny bushes around the shed and trim large shrubs regularly to eliminate hiding spots for burglars.
2. Weak locks
Vulnerability: A shed door with weak locks, hasps, latches, and clasps will not stop a thief with a good set of tools. Small locks, in particular, are easy to break or pick.
Prevention: Don’t settle for a small $10 shed lock that can’t handle adverse weather conditions.
Possible fix: Replace the old fastener with a strong hasp that uses carriage bolts, a fastener that you can’t remove from the outside using a wrench or screwdriver. Then, add a sturdy padlock that’s either weatherproof or rust resistant. Make a habit of locking up every time you close the shed.
Check out our list of the best shed locks to find the right lock for your needs.
Burglars take the path of least resistance
Keep in mind that the harder it is for a criminal to break into your shed, the less likely they’ll attempt an intrusion in the first place, as it increases the odds of getting caught.
3. Unsecured window AC units
Vulnerability: The window AC unit in your shed is easy to remove from the outside, creating easy access for burglars.
Prevention and possible fix: Install a window air conditioner bracket (about $32*) that attaches to the shed’s exterior wall and a window security bar (about $20*). Together these accessories make it more difficult for burglars to remove the AC unit by wiggling it up and down.
Look for a support bracket that screws securely to the wall. This takes more work to install but makes it more challenging for a burglar to move the air conditioner. The window lock bar physically prevents would-be intruders from opening the window above the AC unit.
Another way to anchor your AC unit
Consider attaching your window AC unit to the window or wall using anchor screws. You may need to drill some holes, but this is a cheaper alternative to buying a support bracket and a security bar.
4. Loose hinges
Vulnerability: An exposed or loose hinge pin on the shed door can be easy to unscrew, allowing burglars to bypass the door lock.
Prevention and possible fix: Replace your old door hinge with a set of hinges with a non-removable pin (about $22 for a 3-pack*). If the hinge is outside the shed door, think about replacing the mounting screws with carriage bolts (about $16 for a 10-pack*). A carriage bolt, also called a coach bolt, has a smooth head that is almost impossible to remove from the outside.
Possible fix: Install window and door alarms to help you know if and when an intruder attempts to enter your shed.
If you have an alarm system in your home, you can extend it to include your shed. When a door or window opens, the security system alerts a monitoring company and sends you a notification on your smartphone.
If a full-blown security system isn’t an option, you can buy stand-alone door and window sensors for your shed that connect to an app or a virtual assistant. Some models, like the Sabre Elite (about $8*), even have a loud alarm to scare off intruders.
Vulnerability: Uncovered windows allow passers-by to easily see what’s in your shed and when it’s unoccupied.
Prevention and possible fix: Avoid advertising the contents of your shed and tempting thieves in the process. Putting up curtains or other window coverings is the easiest way to do this. The type of covering you install depends on how you use the shed.
Here are our top window covering recommendations:
Sun Zero Blackout Curtains (starting around $12*): If you use your shed exclusively for storage and don’t care much about natural lighting, blackout curtains are a good fit.
Coavas Frosted Privacy Window Film (starting around $10*): Privacy film is a low-maintenance option that is flexible and inexpensive. It obscures visibility while allowing in outside light.
Springblinds Solar Shade (starting around $48*): If you spend a lot of time in your shed and want to control both temperature and visibility, opt for solar shades. They’ll keep your shed safe from prying eyes and help reduce UV ray penetration.
Check our guide on how to deal with nosey neighbors for more tips if you think window coverings aren’t enough.
7. Poor lighting
Vulnerability: Most sheds sit in a far corner of a property where the main house lights don’t reach. Long, unbroken stretches of darkness at night are ideal for burglars to sneak in and out undetected.
Prevention and possible fix: Install motion detector lights on your shed—after all, no burglar wants to be in the spotlight. Depending on the strength and range of your security light, you might also deter intruders from exploring the rest of your property.
Break-in or not, it’s a good idea to keep a serialized list of the items in your shed. If an item goes missing, you may improve the chances of recovery if you have a copy of the serial number and if the item has unique identifying marks. After a theft, you can provide detailed information about your property to your local police department to facilitate item recovery.
Check your home insurance coverage
If you recently added a shed to your property, check with your insurance agent to find out if your shed and its contents have coverage under your homeowners insurance policy. Most policies cover on-property structures, but it’s best to verify anyway.
Understand how to handle a burglar
What should you do if you catch an intruder mid-crime? Stay calm, contact the authorities, and prioritize your safety. You can also check out our guide on what to do if your house is broken into for more in-depth information on handling these types of situations.
Now that you know how to secure your shed without shelling out thousands, look over our home security quiz to find out what other elements of your property may be vulnerable—and what you can do to make those areas safer.
Info current as of 06/04/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* $0 due up-front with consumer financing. † No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase. ‡ With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See SafeStreets.com for full offer details, terms, and conditions. § Professional monitoring provided by Brinks Home Security.
*Amazon.com list price as of 06/04/2020 at 2:28 p.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
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Written by John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist with over seven years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech. Before joining SafeWise in 2020, John was an editor for Top Ten Reviews specializing in home security and the smart home. Learn more