Portable generators are handy because you can carry them around to power up tools and appliances in different locations. No wonder, right? But guess who likes this feature even more than we do? Generator thieves!
It’s so easy to snatch a small generator that I’m wondering why I never went into this line of business myself. I guess it’s a bit risky, but you don’t even need a degree and there’s work to be found in every neighborhood.
So many people don’t secure their expensive generators at all, and it’s laughably easy to steal one. Others use poor security methods which can often place their health in jeopardy. Such as running the generator indoors or too close to their homes which has in some cases led to carbon monoxide poisoning. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy this happened in multiple households.
To make sure that you don’t become part of these unfortunate statistics any time soon, implement one or more of following generator security methods:
1. Store it in a garage or storage shed
The easiest way to protect your generator is to keep it tucked away in a safe location. A locked garage or a shed are ideal solutions when the generator is not in use.
But you can take this a step further by hiding it behind other tools and appliances. Placing it on an overhead storage rack is even better, especially if you store it in a large box.
Most break ins happen in a hurry and the intruder will not take the time to climb a chair or ladder to see what’s on the rack if they’re trying to be sneaky and fast. And even then, removing a relatively heavy generator from an overhead rack can be risky if it’s done by only one person.
So the takeaway from this tip is to keep your generator indoors when it’s not in use, and find a good place to hide it. However, also make sure that your garage and home in general are secured properly in the first place. Garage doors are especially vulnerable to break-ins because they’re often left open by mistake and some can be easily opened with the so-called “fishing” tactic by using a wire hook.
Speaking from experience, my uncle recently found a burglar in his home in Syracuse. He was going to the toilet in the middle of the night and saw a masked figure in the hallway. Fortunately the intruder ran away immediately upon seeing my jacked uncle. How did the crook get in? The garage door opener was manipulated, most likely with the fishing tactic.
Could such an unnerving situation happen in your own home? If your garage door is not properly secured it definitely can. So you might find these 9 garage door security methods very helpful.
2. Chain the generator
I don’t mean this in a sadomasochistic way. And if so, don’t forget to use a “safe word”. Okay, that’s enough humor for today. What I actually mean is locking the generator to a large, immovable structure or object. This could be anything you find at hand, such as a storage rack, a steel bar attached to the wall, a vehicle etc.
This is also the best way to secure a portable generator outdoors, when it’s working. A long, heavy-duty security cable like Lumintrail is the most convenient tool for locking a generator, bicycle or anything else that requires extra security. This security cable is really inexpensive and there are different lengths available on Amazon.
Having said that, I still don’t recommend leaving your generator outside permanently. If you do, it’s better to use a REALLY thick chain like the Schlage High Security Chain that can’t be cut without serious equipment, which would cause a lot of noise. However, it’s dimensions are 2 x 2 x 39 inches, so you may want to make sure you have an immovable object fairly close so that shorter length doesn’t pose an issue. Or ensure that you can bring the generator closer to the object. This shouldn’t be a problem with a portable generator but it’s worth considering before making a purchase.
3. Security fence
A tall fence and locked gates are valuable additions for home security. But they become even more precious if you have an expensive generator or other machinery around the house.
Think of this from a logical perspective; even if someone climbs up the fence and steals the generator, they still have to carry it over the fence or the gate. That’s something that most thieves don’t have the capacity for!
For this to work, the fence has to be high enough so that throwing the generator to a colleague on the other side is too risky or impossible.
The type of fence material is also important but not as much. The best solution is obviously a stone wall, but metal and thicker wooden fence or dense shrubbery can also work. You can additionally make your fence thicker and more difficult to break in through by covering it with mass loaded vinyl.
Mass loaded vinyl will not only improve security, it will also reduce traffic noise because it’s an excellent soundproofing material. It will also add privacy to your yard so no one can see all the goodies you have inside.
You can also make it much harder to climb over the fence by adding spikes and other additions on top. I’ve covered the best fence security measures in this article.
4. Home security camera
Home security cameras with WiFi connectivity are useful because you can receive alerts if someone is in relatively close proximity to the camera.
Placing one or more cameras around your home will deter most thieves, and if a brave soul tries to break in you’ll learn about it immediately.
If for some reason the camera doesn’t send an immediate alert to your phone/laptop, or you simply miss the alert, at least you’ll valuable footage that can be immensely helpful for identifying the intruder.
Check out my garage door security article for camera recommendations and installation tips. It goes without saying that you can use the same process for monitoring any space around your home.
5. Don’t leave the generator out in the open
Even if you lock it with a heavy chain and have security cameras around, security risks will still be reduced if you move the generator indoors when it’s not being used.
6. Keep it a secret
The less people know you have a shiny new toy, the better. A tall fence, especially an acoustic fence or one that is covered with mass loaded vinyl will muffle the generator noise which could otherwise intrigue potential burglars to hop over and see if the generator can be snatched or not.
7. Use a quiet portable generator
Not all generators are equally loud. There are some newer ones that produce less than 65 decibels while powering multiple appliances. If you’re thinking about buying a new generator, check out this list of quietest portable generators from Soundproof Advice.
You can also reduce your generator’s noise by building a generator soundproof box, using a noise-reducing fence, placing it under an anti-vibration mat and using other tips presented in the article.
8. Drain the gas tank
Drain the generator’s gas tank and run the carburetor dry before storing it away for an extended period of time. Alternatively, you can add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline before putting it in the tank. If you’re storing it inside a house, it’s better to drain the tank for safety reasons.
The main reason for performing either of these options is because as gasoline ages it can create gummy deposits. These deposits can reduce the machine’s performance and clog the carburetor ports.
9. Keep the documentation
Don’t throw away your generator’s serial number and other documentation even after the warranty expires. In case your generator gets stolen (God forbid), this information can be useful to authorities in case they stumble upon it.
10. Carve a sign
Carving a small but recognizable sign on the generator’s surface can also help with identifying it. I recommend doing this on other common targets of theft as well, such as: expensive appliances, motorcycles, bicycles etc.
About securing a generator from theft
Getting robbed produces a very disgusting feeling. Especially when a pricey object like a portable generator is in question. Often not so much because of the material loss, but because deep inside you know you could have easily prevented it… if only you tried. But a crook took advantage of your naivety and you’re left feeling like a victim instead.
Preventing theft is all about preparation and long-term thinking. The good news is that to secure a generator you only need to store it somewhere safe and lock it properly especially when its placed outside.
If you got the basics covered, you can also reduce the chance of it being spotted by an opportunist with a good fence and noise reduction. And finally, having a one or two strategically placed cameras will maximize the security of your entire home and your peace of mind as well.