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Utah Cabin Burglar is Not Afraid to Stay the Night

Troy James Knapp was recently charged for breaking into vacation homes in Southern Utah and lived off the contents of these cabins. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, police believe that over a five year period, Knapp broke into cabins and called them home for extended periods of time. Food and alcohol were the most often missing items, but one cabin owner reported dishes were washed (although not put away) and a Dutch oven was stolen.

The photo to the right is Knapp’s 2001 parole photo from a California burglary conviction. Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office.

To avoid having people like Knapp taking up residency in your vacation home or cabin, keep these five tips in mind the next time you close up for the season.

1. Get Friendly. Get to know your year-round neighbors (even if they live a mile away) and you’ll have a set of eyes on your vacation home when you can’t be there. Let your neighbors know what constitutes usual activity at your vacation home, such as friends or family using the cabin for a week during hunting season. You don’t have to bombard your neighbors with details, but if they know what’s “normal” activity, then they also know what’s unusual and possibly criminal.

2. Check Stats. Take the time to research crime statistics for the area, most of which is available online. You can also call to inquire about crime trends from the law enforcement officer that patrols the area. Ask him to suggest ways to secure your home against a burglar based on his knowledge of the area.

3. Give Contact Information. Let law enforcement know the names of people who commonly access your home (house sitters, neighbors, etc.) and give them your contact information. Law enforcement agencies can’t offer ’round the clock protection, but they are usually able to note when your home is vacant.

4. Amp Up Security. Install a security system in your vacation home to help protect it. Also, if you don’t have the time or ability to fix basic security issues around the home, hire a professional who can. Keep in mind that the average burglar gets away with nearly $2,000 worth of cash and property, so paying a professional a few hundred dollars to help secure your home is a good investment.

5. Safeguard Valuables. If you have electronics or other valuables in your vacation home, take them with you when you close it up for the season. If you insist on leaving them, take a picture of each item and consider getting them serialized. If they are stolen, law enforcement will have an easier time tracking the items down.

What Should You Do If You Walk In On a Burglar?

Although the chance of walking in on a burglar is low, it does occasionally happen and it’s a very dangerous situation.

If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable about entering your home, drive away immediately and call law enforcement. Remember, your safety is paramount. Gathering information to help catch the burglar is secondary. If you’re able to safely do so, here’s information that will help law enforcement:

    • Vehicle: Color, make, model, and license plate number of any vehicle you don’t recognize. If there is anything distinguishable about the vehicle, note that too.
    • People: Make note of the person’s sex, race, clothing color, height, and any characteristic that stands out about the person.
    • Exit: If you see a burglar leave your home, did they do so on foot or in a vehicle? What direction did they head?

While you can’t fully protect your vacation home from a burglary, using our security tips can help. And remember, if you discover a burglar in your home, leave immediately and call law enforcement.

What other vacation home security tips do you have?

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