Meet your summertime neighbours

Rural Crime Watch Column

Is it a “cabin” or a “cottage”?

If you’re from Ontario, it is a social faux pas to call your holiday get-away a “cabin.”

If you’re from British Columbia, Alberta or Saskatchewan and someone referred to your cabin as a “cottage”, you’d say, “huh?”

Whatever you call your Shangri-La; this is the time of year to put the maximum effort into keeping it safe from theft and vandalism.

Break and Enters to seasonal residences are highest in the fall and winter when owners have closed up for the year. Returning in the spring to find your hide-away trashed and your summer toys stolen can be devastating. The solution to this tragedy can be as easy as becoming proactive and preventing the financial and emotional assault.

Start right now, when you arrive to open the cabin. Settle in, and then find your neighbors. If you don’t know them, this is the ideal time to make friends.

One Rural Crime Watch (RCW) member noted that over the long May weekend, he saw his summer neighbors arrive from the lower mainland, so he grabbed a bottle of wine and went to welcome them. Fortunately his friend’s cabin had received no damage. The urban couple was very grateful but acknowledged that their fortune was not happenstance.

The RCW member said he had worked with his friends over the years to increase their security awareness starting with locking up everything in the fall. That meant the obvious; boats, outboard engines and other equipment, but it also included rakes, shovels, kids’ beach toys and anything that could be stolen regardless of the assumed value. The latter is important because once thieves see that the owner is careless with what might be easily replaced, they will return for the larger more expensive items.

The cabin owners were encouraged to invest in quality locks using the longest screws available into the door jams and to secure all windows with dowels in the sliders and locks, even if it meant replacing old, outdated windows. The latter would be cheaper than the repairs after vandalism. He also shared a repeated RCMP warning to ensure doors are locked, not only when you leave but when you’re home. Record appliance, boat and motor numbers and etch your driver’s license number on the items.

The “open door” era is gone and you need to insure your family’s safety. Not only from two-legged threats but the four-egged variety as well.

One family enjoyed fun in the sun all day, culminating with a barbecue in the evening. They had retired for the night when a black bear decided that the barbecue lickings were insufficient for his humongous appetite, and therefor broke through the unlocked back door simply by rising on his hind legs and putting his upper body weight on the door. The only thing holding the door shut was the door handle clasp (not a deadbolt with three inch screws imbedded in the door frame). Scary evening for the residents and fatal for the bear, both preventable with a properly locked door.

Exchange phone numbers, email addresses, and encourage ‘seasonals’ to provide these to RCW so the summer residents can receive crime prevention information throughout the year regarding their residential area.

RCW property signs are available from RCW executives and are the ideal message to prospective thieves, the message being, “We do not hide our heads in the sand with ignorance and naivety.”  Contact RCW at

Article by Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz.