Securing Items On Your Porch/Backyard?

“Dear PoPville,

Has anyone’s neighbor recently acquired a chair very much like the one in the attached photo? Our second chair managed to disappear sometime between 10:30 last night (Wed, Jun 15) and 9:00 this morning (Thu, Jun 16). We live in Columbia Heights, just a few blocks from the Red Derby.

Thanks for keeping an eye out.”

If anyone sees the chair email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail and I’ll tell the OP where the chair was spotted.

Photo by flickr user massdistraction

“Dear PoPville,

I just purchased a new Weber gas grill. Perhaps foolishly, I bought a nice one. A really nice one. Now I’m afraid someone will steal it, or strip it for parts. It’s on our back deck close to the backdoor light, I keep it covered, and I have a big dog. Do you or your readers have any suggestions for what else I can do to deter theft? Thanks!”

I know bicycles get stolen a lot but can you use a bike lock to attach it to the deck? Has anyone heard of a grill getting stolen?

66 Comment

  • Lock it up with a cable lock at the very least. I had a really crappy webber with a wheel that falls off stolen from my backyard. If it isn’t tied down, someone *will* take it.

    • +1. This is DC, and no matter where you are in town, someone WILL steal virtually anything on your porch that isn’t tied down.

    • We just had our grill stolen as well. If anyone happened to notice a Big Green Egg appear in your neighbor’s yard sometime last week, please please please let us know! It’s a pretty unique grill – here’s a photo:

      We had just had our backyard re-landscaped and finally got the grill out of the garage only to have it stolen a couple of nights later. We foolishly hadn’t yet chained it to something, but we did have the backyard flood light on and it’s a very exposed corner lot. Ironically I think that just highlighted that it was there, so don’t think lights will protect your stuff.

      And they took our trash can too for good measure (presumably to hide it in as they wheeled it away). Now our patio furniture has a very visible cable locking it in place.

    • em

      We locked our gas grill with a cable lock and didn’t have any problems. Granted, this was in a different city, but it was near a major intersection. Make sure that you take tools or other loose things inside the house!

  • Leaving a bike locked on your porch is only marginally better than leaving it unlocked. Generally, bike thieves can break through any lock – they only need time, which, under the cover of night, is ample.

    I guess the only course of action is to not leave anything valuable (though, from recent posts and comments, even worthless items are stolen with alarming frequency) outside if you live in a neighborhood with high petty and property crime rates.

    • I was actually wondering about this myself. I recently moved and am about to get my bike back from my friend who was working on it. There isn’t a great place to store it inside, and I was planning to lock it up with my U-lock on our gate outside. I’ve seen plenty of bikes locked up around the city in this manner, and I guess I never thought it would be an issue with a strong U lock rather than a chain. Obviously I want to take precaution against it being stolen. After reading the story about the 12 year old kid with bolt cutters (coincidentally a block from my old place), I got nervous about the prospect of leaving it outside even locked. Is the above comment the consensus?

      • I have had a bike stollen locked inside the common room of my condo. If you really want to keep your bike, put it in your own locked indoor space. Then, from there, evaluate how much the bike in your way cost compares to how you will feel. I bought another bike and put it right back in the storage room (with 2 u locks). On a gate, I would be ready for it to be stollen and happy when it is not.

      • On a long enough timeline everything that is left outside locked or unlocked will be stolen. Not to mention that leaving a bike locked up outside is terrible for the bike, what with the rain and all.

    • I thought PoP was asking about the idea of using a bike lock to lock a _grill_ to the deck, not a bicycle — maybe on the assumption that a thief wouldn’t be as motivated to cut through a bike lock to get to a grill as he/she would be to get to a bicycle?

  • Sigh. I just had my new porch chairs stolen last week, too. I naively thought they’d be okay not locked down, because my block has finally filled out and all my neighbors have unlocked down chairs/tables on their porches. Nope.

    What are the thieves doing with all these chairs anyway? Mine were $10 chairs from Target — I doubt they go for much on the black market!

    • Original Poster here. I’ve wondered the same thing, especially since our wicker porch chairs are old, and at least two neighbors have lovely new-ish pairs of rockers that, as chairs go, are much nicer. The thieves are either very picky, perhaps looking to complete a set, or not very picky or discriminating at all.

      In our case, it’s not the cost so much as the aggravation.

      • Oh, I should add, we’ve had these chairs out through the warm months for 5+ years without a loss, so perhaps we should count our blessings that we had them that long.

      • get something SUPER heavy… I’m looking to get a teakwood bench and once i figure out how to screw it to my porch (from underneath) it’s on… however, i’d like it to be so heavy that even trying to cart it away would deter a potential thief. I’m sure that’s why my planter still remains on my porch. way to heavy to carry.

  • have the chain you use visible. this way they will know to not bother.

  • i once saw four teens rolling a huge weber grill down 7th near the shaw metro stop around 5pm. it clearly looked like they stole thing and were trying to get away as quickly as possible. i pulled out my cell to call the police but just then a few cops came running across the street. i think they caught two or three of them. if it wasn’t sad that they were stealing someone’s property, it would have been quite a comical sight..

  • I keep my grill locked to my fence, and also installed a motion-sensitive floodlight. Since my backyard faces an alley, I modified the light to have a limited radius so it only turns on when someone is in my yard (rather than have it flash every time someone walks down the alley). I don’t worry about stuff getting stolen, but I do lock everything up to be safe.

  • Someone should put out decoy bikes filled with explosives.

  • Lock it up. My adirondacks are locked up etc. For the grill, I poured a cement footer and put in a steel loop to lock to.

    Motion sensor, good gate lock and pissy dogs help for nighttime.

  • I was just ranting about this yesterday! Our wicker bench’s cushion was taken just a couple nights ago –we’re also very close to the red derby. Also much like OP, the item stolen wasn’t particularly trendy (no offense) but they left our white wicker bench and extra folding chairs alone.

    We deliberately leave out items that wouldn’t be devastating to lose, but it’s still one of those *really?* things to happen.

  • We’ve got a nice patio and deck sans furniture because we’re waiting until we can afford a garage door. We were once stupid enough to store a wheelbarrow under the deck (not at all visible from the alley) and thieves used it to cart away everything we had under there–even a cracked and useless garden hose.

    We’ve never had to call for bulk trash removal. Just put it out back and it’ll be gone within a day or two.

  • “It’s on our back deck close to the backdoor light, I keep it covered, and I have a big dog.”

    Is your dog trained to kill? Does it sleep outside on the back deck? Is your grill cover in the shape of something much heavier and larger, like a Volkswagen? If not, assume it will be a target for theft.

  • Come on – this isn’t a trailer park in Canada!

  • I once had someone steal a 40 pound bag of top soil from my front yard. I think I paid all of $3.00 for it…yes anything in DC will be stolen!!!

  • I had a grill stolen from our front-yard area in college at GW. The thief was industrious, as the grill was very poorly constructed by yours truly and would topple over easily, so it wasn’t easy to move.

  • It’s the first thing I tell people who move to DC – don’t leave anything out. Anything that’s unlocked will disappear; even stuff that is locked people will attempt to take.

  • HEY POP Start a “I once had XXX stolen in DC” post tomorrow, it would be amazing, people should post ONLY things that have been stolen from them in DC, item location and circumstance if it is known.

    (side not rant)What makes people in DC into the animals they are? DC has more programs, help groups and opportunities than anywhere in the the entire USA yet it is full of beings who care to act more like animals than people. Something is clearly broken but nobody is addressing it.

    I have had many things stolen in DC but the funniest was a rusty bird feeder on mother’s day weekend, I am sure some mother of 5 is enjoying it right now and not even wondering where her darling children purchased an old rusty bird feeder.

  • I once had my old, sweat stained and cracked shin guards taken from my front steps as they were airing out. Literally anything can be stolen.

  • I’ve had my two kayaks a smoker and a large drum grill in my back yard for years and I’ve always kept them locked. Buy a U-Lock and get a cable to go with it. Locking up items prevents crimes of opportunity, not committed thieves.

    We try to keep the grill covered but that’s more to protect it from the elements.

    I disagree with people who act like this is a DC specific issue. It’s more like common sense for living in a city.

  • Someone stole my composter (with compost inside). That made me mad.

  • There’s a well known crack head who hangs around the area of Irving and 11th St who offers to do odd jobs for people for a few bucks to get crack money, but he also uses the chance to scope out people’s yards for stuff to steal at night.

    I have seen him stealing anything he can get his hands on but by the time the cops show off, he is gone.

    • out of curiosity, can you describe this guy? we have employed a guy from time to time in that immediate area to do odd jobs who has or had an addiction problem, but so far he’s been very trustworthy.

      • Tall, very skinny, toothless middle-aged guy. Wears a cap, bald head underneath. Homeless. He was just arrested a couple of weeks ago for breaking into a place, was found with crack (again). His pattern is going to jail, getting back out, getting into trouble, hiding from police who have a warrant out on him, going back to jail, etc. He often offers to get rid of trash for people and then throws it in other people’s dumpsters, yards and alleys. He seems very friendly but that is bc he needs drug money. He won’t bite the hand that feeds him.

          • whoops, that was meant to be… *wondering to herself whether the omission of race was a mistake or if, in an attempt to be progressive, the poster really thought it was irrelevant information when identifying somebody*

          • Omission. Black.

        • Wow, that guy is still at it!

          I lived at 11th and Irving from 03-07 and he was always wandering about, taking water from our backyard spigot (presumably to bathe, though I never inquired) and offering to mow our 4×4 patch of grass.

        • His name is Marvin. I’ve known him for about three years now…throw him a few bones but keep your door locked.

  • andy

    nothing locked down, nothing stolen. yet.

    the neighbors some call “sketchy” are the ones who come over and tell us our backseat window of our car is unlocked, etc.

    i guess we just have better luck than some folks here.

  • I’m in Pleasant Plains on a block where everyone has unsecured chairs, planters, and other stuff on their porches. Nothing’s ever been stolen from my porch, and I would think my neighbors wouldn’t keep so much stuff out if theft was a big problem.

  • We had a sewage back-up in our basement two years ago. It required professional cleaning (paid for by WASA!), but it meant that after all our belongings that were stored in the basement were cleaned and disinfected (mostly tools, lumber, a kayak, etc.) they had to be put outside to dry for 24 hours. Knowing that anything not nailed down would be gone within hours, we were very worried. So I made several large signs that read “DANGER: Sewage Contamination!” and placed them on the piles of our belongings in the alley. Even though everything was clean by that time, nothing was stolen. In case it matters, we live about two blocks off H St.
    Perhaps you could casually leave brochures for bedbug extermination on your upholstered porch and patio furniture. 🙂

  • My back patio doesn’t have alley access. Do I still need to worry about stuff getting stolen? It seems to me like too much trouble to hop over a few fences to get my stuff (grill, table and chairs), but am I being naive? I live in Columbia Heights/Parkview.

  • Actually, it doesn’t matter if it is locked or not. A month ago, our two bikes were stolen from hour backyard, which has a 6 foot fence. Yesterday, my husband left his back locked and it was stolen too!

    I can’t believe they are even jumping fences! Does anyone know about electric fences to install on backyards???

    Today we are chaining everything!

  • Could a grill or similar metal object be electrified such that an unauthorized groper gets a jolt?

  • I can’t imagine that grills are off-limits by someone looking for a five-fingered discount. Locking it to a fixed structure on your property doesn’t sound too over the top.

  • It happens everywhere.
    Was talking to another former Peace Corps Volunteer and we both knew folks that had bags containing stool & urine samples stolen.

  • Anyone aware of the most current U-locks on the market being broken into, like the OnGuard BullDog?
    Also, when folks are talking about using ‘cables’ to lock things down, what exactly are you using? I would imagine the braided wire cables used along with U-locks would be far easier to snip than a superheavy gauge chain that costs and weighs a ton, right?!
    The cost of city ‘convenience’ unfortunately just went up here on my ‘postage stamp’.

  • I locked my grill down with eyebolts drilled into the concrete and a half inch thick cable securing it down. Drill 2 holes in concrete, put the ibolts in and then fill the rest of the hole with cement.

    Now that Ive got the gate repaired behind my house, I just lock that. However my neighbor has a grill that isnt locked down and isnt behind a fence and its never been stolen. I think that it takes a special criminal to go to the trouble of stealing a big grill.

    • i understand it’s all about deterrence, but personally if i went through the trouble to put these bolts, i’m not sure i’d trust a cable lock. typically a fair sized set of bolt cutters can get through a cable in short order. why not get an actual chain?

      • it is my understanding that the very thick cable I got will not be easily cut and that a chain will actually be easier.

        i dont use it anymore anyway, so it doesnt matter!

  • When I first moved into my house I put some nice porch furniture out front with a locked cable snaked underneath so it would appear unsightly. The very next morning I went out front to find the furniture all piled up by the stairs. Someone tried to grab a chair and run and got more than they bagained for. I still have all the furniture, 8 years later.

  • I had all my recently planted pansies dug up and stolen from my front yard.

    • Oh,yea, plant theft has happened to us a lot, things dug right out of our front yard. It’s appalling.

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