Shed security guide - the best ways to protect your tools and tech

Shed security is an important part of keeping your home safe, and these easy hacks will give you - and your trowels - peace of mind

Shed security Small lawned garden with outdoor seated and shed
(Image credit: James Merrell)

The best ways to tackle shed security and protect tools and tech are easier to put in place than you think. Whether you own a compact 5 x 3’ shed or a larger outbuilding, its contents can be a candy store for burglars. A lawnmower, bicycle, paddle board, camping and DIY tools are just some of the big-spend items we may thoughtlessly store in the shed, which leaves them vulnerable to theft - and, in particular, to any burglars who love to paddle board. While there are always a few boxes of random 'stuff' stored in the shed that we secretly wish someone would come and take off our hands, the value of the other decent items really does add up. 

‘The average tools shed contains all of the tools an intruder would need to break into a home,’ says Kevin Van Der Steen, product manager at Somfy. ‘So whether it’s hammers, chisels or even ladders, make sure they are safely locked in your shed to avoid them being used for forced entries. Burglars can take less than a minute to use such tools to break into a home, so it’s important to be cautious.’

From installing the best home security systems to motion-sensor security lights, to replacing door hinges and marking your belongings, there are a number of ways you can secure a shed and protect tools and tech as the nights draw in. 

Shed security - 6  ways to protect tools and tech 

Shed tools displayed in an interior setting

(Image credit: Ronseal)

1. Lock away tools and give your garden a little TLC

Keeping your garden looking well groomed with your tools and kit neatly tucked away when not in use sends a message to any potential intruders that your guard is up. So assert your authority and be bold - use those carefully pruned begonias to send a message.

‘Move ladders or large bins away from fences and walls, as these can be used as climbing aids,' says home security specialist Leigh Barnes of Jacksons Fencing. 'Lock any tools inside your house, as these could be used to cut through security systems. As well as locking high-value items such as bikes or lawnmowers in the shed, you should also padlock these to heavy, static objects so they can’t be easily shifted should someone break in.’

2. Install a shed alarm 

It can be problematic to use standard wireless home alarms to protect your shed or outbuilding. The specific technology they use or WiFi may not reach the end of your shed, without a signal booster.

Some alarms however, such as the Yale Sync, do have an extended wireless range of 200m, which can be a good option for the shed. This alarm has zone control too, so you can alarm certain areas throughout the day. You will receive a notification on your phone if the alarm is triggered. This alarm has external siren included in the pack so intruders know you mean business.  

Alternatively, you can pick up a basic entry-level shed alarm for as little as £20 such as the Yale Shed & Garage Alarm or Defender Wireless Shed Alarm. These both attach to your shed or can be placed inside it to detect motion. 

Yale's Shed Alarm, for example, has a 12m range and sounds 10 seconds after motion has been detected. With a hefty 100dB siren, it will have every bird in your garden fleeing the trees and and leave a flustered intruder running for cover. Tippi Hedren springs to mind. Or you could try one of the best outdoor security cameras.

Garden shed shown painted in a green colorway on a summers day

(Image credit: Ronseal)

3. Invest in a decent lock 

To get the best protection for your shed or outbuilding you’ll need to consider the locks and bolts as seriously as you do the front door. While the latest Ronseal paint may make it look pretty, it's the not so pretty tech fixtures that are going to do the hard work - that's up to the best smart locks

‘As well as a good quality door lock, consider attaching mortice security bolts at the top and bottom of your shed,' says Steffan George from the Master Locksmiths Association. 'Make sure they are well fitted so that they can’t be ripped away from the timber. If your shed door is too small and thin for a mortice lock, it’s vital to invest in a good hasp, staple and padlock.’

For a smart padlock solution on your shed, we particularly like the Biometric Padlock from Master Lock, which can be programmed so it only opens with the touch of your fingerprints.

Padlock used on a shed to secure it in the garden

(Image credit: Master Lock)

4. Secure the shed hinges and windows 

Just like when it comes to garage door security, there are some simple hacks to remember here, too. Secure the shed hinges, so thieves can't easily remove them. ‘Fitting a pair of hinge bolts to each leaf should hold the door in place if someone tries to break the hinges,' continues Steffan George. 

'Shed windows will need working locks too. You could also consider fitted grilles or welded mesh sheeting on the inside of windows. Netting or reflective sheeting can also be used to stop a potential thief from seeing objects inside.’

5. Track your items so they can easily be located   

Should the worst happen and you get broken into, be safe in the knowledge that your most-treasured items are trackable. Just like the best key finders, you could use a BikeRegister Permanent Marking Kit  to protect your bike, for example. Registering your bike makes it easier police and retailers to trace your bike after theft. You could also clip the Curve Bike light and GPS tracker to your bicycle to keep tabs on your bike – via your smartphone – at all times. 

The Stihl Smart Connector is also a handy gadget to help you track your tools. It's ususally used as a maintenance tool to track how long a device has been used. Once the sensor with a 5cm diameter is attached to an item in your shed however, you can use the Stihl Connected App to track the location of that tool should it go missing.

Vodafone Curve Bike and GPS tracker

(Image credit: Vodafone Curve Bike and GPS tracker)

6. Light up the shed area

Aside from the decorative solar lights illuminating your Hostas, good motion-activated security lighting is important to deter burglars. If you want to go for a bespoke set up, try a professional installation company via the SSAIB website. 

For a more off-the-shelf DIY option, you can fit a standard PIR motion-sensor lights that can be wired in to activate when they detect a body - the same as when securing a home. There are a number of wireless smart camera and motion sensor lighting options to choose from too. 

Getting electricity and WiFi to your shed however is not always easy, so opting for a strong floodlight camera that has enough reach to light up your shed while attached to your house can be a good option.  

Ring, for example, sells the Floodlight Wired Cam Plus, and you can use the app to set perimeters and camera sensitivity so it can alert you as much and as little as you like. This is a good feature if your garden is overrun with foxes, badgers and territorial cats at night. The Ezviz LC1C Outdoor Floodlight security camera is also a good option.

‘Once installed, check it yourself at night to see if it’s bright enough and covers all entry points,’ says Marc Husband from Leader Doors. ‘Install it about 10 feet above the ground to ensure burglars cannot deactivate it.’

Unlike classic motion-sensor lights, the smart versions use WiFi and send you an alert on your smartphone when they detect any activity. You can then choose to act using the app by sounding a siren or even shouting to a burglar through the speakers. Try "Step away from the robotic lawnmower or I'm going to shower you with the garden hose", just for laughs.  

How can I make my garden shed more secure?

You can make your shed more secure by anchoring your shed, picking the optimum position in which to place it, or fitting a shed alarm. Obscure windows and put tools out of sight. It’s also important to make sure the hinges and door locks are secure and in good working order.  

How should garden tools be stored?

Garden tools should be stored away from windows. If you are using a wall-mounted tool rack to store any tools, make sure the windows are obscured so potential intruders can’t see inside and eye up your equipment. Tools should be stored in a cool, dry place as moisture causes them to rust and shorten their lifespan as does direct sunlight, which can make them warp.  

One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.