Securing Vacant Property

There are more than 12,000 fires in vacant structures every year. Almost 72% are of suspicious nature.

Vacant buildings in communities become havens for the homeless, and vandals. They can even serve as magnets for criminal activity. Unfortunately, vacant rental properties serve as targets of opportunity for would be thieves, as even copper wiring and plumbing have extraordinary street value in today’s economy: the furnace and hot water heater are worth quite a bit in scrap metal. That’s a huge investment down the drain!

Prevention is simple: Appearance. Security. Housekeeping.


  • Maintain an occupied appearance to defer vandals and thieves.
  • Cancel mail service.
  • Clean gutters and maintain roof.
  • Cut back overgrown trees and bushes, trim hedges, and mow grass.
  • Clear exterior of any debris.
  • Remove circulars, mail, etc., and have snow and ice removed promptly.
  • For extended vacancy periods, consider making visible changes to the property on a periodic basis (noticeable but not drastic).


  • Shut off utilities which are not needed to protect the building.
  • Maintain heat at 55 degrees, and make sure heating systems are periodically inspected.
  • Turn off the water drain and winterize the plumbing systems as necessary, including opening faucets and putting antifreeze in traps.
  • Remove combustible or hazardous materials.


  • Notify authorities of the vacancy.
  • Conduct a frequent (once a week) walk through 
of the property looking for any openings to the building or damages which need to be repaired to prevent further damage.
  • Install deadbolt locks for all the doors. Change locks and security codes (there may be more keys available then you think).
  • Board up the windows and other openings.
  • Install fencing around the property, and keep 
fences in good repair.
  • Keep the building well lit and install ood lights 
with motion sensor.
  • Maintain and services re protection and 
burglar alarm systems.
  • Install security cameras which will act as a 
  • Keep Building free of any valuable contents.

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The material contained in this document is for informational purposes only. Your individual circumstances may vary depending upon location, type of construction and other factors and you may therefore be required to implement unique approaches to address particular issues that exist at your location. Please consult with licensed professionals and your utility providers to ensure that any safeguards or improvements you undertake are appropriate and safe.