Theft-Proof Rehabbing

One of the most common things I run across no matter where in the country our properties may be, is theft or vandalism. I don’t know any investor that has not faced this as sad as that may be. It doesn’t always have to be serious, but it is always inconvenient. From neighborhood kids tagging with spray paint to full blown breaking & entering and burglary, you will want to avoid this if possible. Here are my suggestions.

My first and favorite tip is to use regular car wax – yes, the car wax that you use on your car – on the windows so you can’t see in. It doesn’t matter if you use Turtle Wax from a tin can or Simonize from a squeeze bottle. All you need to do is take a sponge or rag, cover it with the wax, then wipe the glass windows totally to cover them up. When the wax dries, you will not be able to see inside the building. I do all the lower windows including the garage door windows. This way no one can see any tools, building materials, ladders, paint and such that someone might want to steal.

The benefits of using wax are that it covers lots of area inexpensively. Compared to installing an alarm system or hiring a security guard, this repels most unwanted visitors for literally under $10. No window shades or curtains are needed during fix up and clean-up is a breeze. Just wipe windows down with dry cloths and it comes right off – fast!  It also reduces fog and condensation on the glass. That’s cool, right?? The best part is that if your workers spray, brush or roll paint on the windows they will become squeaky clean after scraping the paint of the window panes after even brushing them.

You will also want to keep the place looking as if someone is there on a regular basis. This can be as simple as keeping newspapers and advertising picked up from driveways, doorknobs as well as regularly emptying the mailbox. Move things around, too.  If there is not a trash can outside, put one out there. Regularly move it from one spot to another.  Talk to the neighbors and let them know who you are and give them a contact number in case they see something unusual – especially people working when you’re not expecting work, such as late at night, Got it?

Keep the grounds spiffy by making sure the grass is cut. This is the most obvious thing that a house is vacant (tall grass, unkept yard, etc.) and will attract unwanted visitors. Open the upper story windows occasionally on the front of the house so it can be seen from the street. No one can see in the upper windows, but it does show signs of people being regularly at the house.

Never leave ladders and such on the outside of the house. Ladders give someone the option to see in the upper windows (unless you waxed them like I said). Never leave empty 5-gallon buckets around the outside as they can be used like a small step ladder to gain access. Always keep paint cans and buckets inside the locked house. Vandals that find paint outside can splash it all over the house, garages and driveway causing damage to your property.

As far as tools and materials are concerned, you should protect them the best you can. No one knows better than me that after 30 years in the rehabbing business, I hate moving all my stuff on every job. So, what I do is make a safe place for my expensive tools and equipment and leave my easily replaceable things out. This way if a thief gets in, they may settle for the “low hanging fruit” for a quick in and out without searching for my more expensive tools. I may lock up all my power tools in something referred to as a “gang box.”  It’s like a big tool box on wheels that locks up tight and is hard to break into. A gang box is also quite large and heavy meaning when it is full, you can’t lift it to put it in a truck with even two or three people. Therefore, they will have to make some serious noise trying to break it open and will be at a greater risk of getting caught than they will want to take,

As far as paint sprayers and pressure washers that you can’t put in a gang box, here is what I do; I find a good sized closet in the garage or a bedroom to store my bigger items and paints. Remember the widows are waxed so you can’t see in, but once I put my bigger items in the closet, I put a keyed lock and a deadbolt on the door making it a lot of trouble to get in. Plus, considering the fact that you can’t see in there, you might not risk breaking in.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You may choose to do this to a whole bedroom or downstairs area in the property if you need the space to store things.  Most people don’t know this so I will tell you; When you are putting in hardwood floors, you need to store the uninstalled flooring in the property for 5 to 7 days so the wood acclimates itself to the climate of where it will be installed.  NOT doing this will cause your floors to shrink after installation and leave cracks, gaps and imperfections. If your installer does not tell you this, TELL them. This is very important. Likewise, a locked room will stop your flooring from being stolen during acclamation process.

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Theft-Proof Rehabbing

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