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Is Your Bug-out Location Safe When You’re Not There?

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Many of you may remember reports of Troy Knapp. He managed to evade law enforcement for years while breaking into and living off of people’s remote cabins. This all took place before I moved to Utah, but the story serves as a stark reminder of how vulnerable our properties can be when we are not there to watch them.

Your bug-out location is the last resort for safety. You’ve invested time and money into making sure that it has the necessities to survive in your darkest hour. Food, shelter, maybe some energy, and some comfort items.
But how do you know that stuff is secure while you’re living your normal life. A well-stocked bug-out location is at an even higher risk of being robbed than a normal home simply because of the thieves reduced risk of being caught.

Ultimately, a good bug-out location can be difficult to protect when you’re away. But I do have some ideas to help your investment stay more secure.

A cabing used as a safe bug-out location

What can they see?

Normally I recommend that people ensure that their homes are kept up. Even on vacation, I encourage them to do things that make it appear that they are home such as lights on timers and having someone pick up the mail. This can be pretty tough at a bug-out location, but do your best to keep the area clean and organized.  Burglars love taking advantage of abandoned places, so do your best to make the area look occupied.

In addition, for bug-out locations, I recommend that you make the property difficult to see into. If possible, plant trees and bushes that will keep prying eyes on any nearby roads or trails from seeing any structures on your property. Fencing may also help block prying eyes if the fence is high enough. Chain link fences should include privacy strips.

Nothing should be left out in plain sight. Generators or any other valuable items should be stored away. Any windows in a house or structure should have curtains or shades to keep unwanted guests from knowing what’s inside.

What they should see are warning signs that they might not be in the right place. Beware of dog is a popular one. Other signs like “Private Hunting Area” or “Live Fire Range” might be worth using as well.

Lock it down!

Anything of high value should be kept in a safe. Ensure that the safe will bolt to the floor. If you can, put the safe somewhere where cutting it out or working on it would be difficult. Consider closets that are only slightly bigger than the safe itself. Make sure that the safe can’t be easily moved by bolding it to concrete with internal bolts.

If possible, store all valuables in a hidden space. I recently shared some insights into underground bunkers. Livable bunkers can be very difficult to build and maintain. But a small storage bunker doesn’t require nearly as much work and provides a great option for storing high-value items, especially those that don’t belong in a house or if there is no house at your bug-out location.

I always recommend quality locks for any home.  Bug-out locations are no exception.  Thieves will have much more time to spend picking your locks here, so make sure they are the best you can get.

What can you see?

Your bug-out location should be a place you visit regularly. Even if it’s just once every couple of months, you should be going out to check on things and test it for functionality. Make the best of things while times are good.

There are a variety of cameras and monitoring systems on the market. On the high-end, there are systems that use cell services to constantly monitor your property. If you have Wi-Fi at your bug-out location, you can have cloud-based systems that allow equally effective monitoring at significantly less costs.

If you can’t afford (or justify the costs of) the expensive cell data monitoring systems and don’t have Wi-Fi, look at locally recorded devices as a good option. Trail cameras used by hunters provide motion detector activation for photos and video. Place these devices where they would capture license plates and faces of people trying to enter. You may be able to recover your property or the cost of that property if you can provide such evidence to law enforcement.

Block Passageways

Hopefully, your property has only a few entry and exit points suitable for vehicles.  Whether it’s trees or the terrain itself, look for choke points you can use to block potential intruders.  The most stolen items at bug-out locations are items that would probably need to be hauled off with a vehicle, like generators and toolsets.  By blocking vehicles from entering, you can significantly reduce your risks of being robbed.

One option for blocking passageways is to create a ditch on your road.  Simply dig a ditch about 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep.  This will stop cars from just passing by.  Remember that you will need to have your own bridge materials nearby or with you to pass that bridge.  Be sensible with this approach.  You don’t want to risk your own vehicle falling into this ditch.

You can also place physical barriers in the way.  A gate is a popular solution that works well.  Stand-alone gates won’t keep people from walking in, but it will keep them from loading up their vehicle with your goods.  Just make sure to have a quality lock on this gate.

Please add any thoughts you have on protecting your bug-out location in the comments below.

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