How to Keep Trespassers off Your Land
by Russell Jones
Founder of PropertyWorkshop.com
Whether you own a modest parcel or a sprawling domain, unwanted trespassers are always a concern. You deserve to be confident that your property is exclusively your own to enjoy, but how do you go about stopping uninvited interlopers? It’s a difficult question that every property owner must face at some point. Fortunately, there are several simple solutions that can help you safeguard your property and gain invaluable peace of mind.
Keep Your Property Posted
Everyone knows it’s illegal to trespass on private land, but there’s a key detail many people miss. For these laws to be enforceable, you need to make sure that any would-be trespasser knows they’re on your private property. That’s why keeping your land posted with the proper signage is crucial. It serves as both a potential deterrent and a legal notice to ensure you can enforce your boundaries.
However, it’s not quite as simple as just posting up some signs along your property lines. Each state has its own particular regulations regarding where and how to post your property. Depending on the laws in your state, you may also need to register your posting with the local town clerk or land office. Still, the minor inconvenience of properly posting your property is a small price to pay to keep your land protected.
Limit and Control Access Points
The reality is that there’s not much you can do to physically keep out someone who is determined to enter your property. In most cases, however, trespassers are simply opportunistic and can be easily dissuaded. You can make your property less easily accessible by using fences, gates and other physical barriers. Take some time to consider where trespassers are most likely to enter your property and focus on these areas in particular.
You can also use natural vegetation to create effective barriers that blend seamlessly into the surrounding land. Plant a combination of trees, shrubs and warm-season grasses along the borders of your property to help deter uninvited guests. These natural barriers also have the added benefit of making it more difficult for onlookers to see your property. For the best coverage and protection, consider using evergreen trees and perennial grasses that won’t need to be replanted every year.
Enlist Some Help
Robert Frost had the right idea when he wrote that good fences make good neighbors. Of course, the inverse is often true as well. Developing good relationships with your neighbors is often as effective a deterrent against trespassers as any sign or physical barrier. Good neighbors tend to keep an eye out for one another and are more likely to let you know if they’ve seen something suspicious on your property. They can also be extremely helpful when you aren’t around to monitor the property yourself.
On the other hand, it’s important to be careful about what you say to others. Boasting about the trophy bucks you’ve seen or all the work you’ve done to boost your property’s value can be tempting, but it may also make you a bigger target for trespassers. It’s better to keep a lower profile and avoid unwanted attention.
Capture It on Camera
Few things can make would-be lawbreakers reconsider their actions more quickly than the presence of a camera. Simply posting a few cameras in highly visible locations is often enough to dissuade visitors from taking liberties with your private land. It’s also a good idea to add some well-concealed cameras in the event that a particularly bold trespasser attempts to steal or damage the ones you’ve left in plain sight. Even if the cameras don’t turn a trespasser away, they’re still useful for collecting evidence that can later be used to prosecute the intruder.
It’s important to note that cameras are subject to a variety of regulations in many areas. In particular, it’s very important to review your local laws before installing cameras that capture video. Some states require that you post clear notices anywhere visitors may be recorded on video. Recording audio often introduces further legal complications, so it’s best to avoid capturing sound altogether. The goal is simply to make sure people know that they can’t access your property without being seen.
You have every right to control who can and cannot legally enter your property. Of course, having the right and having the ability are often two separate matters. The tips above will help you deter interlopers and make your property a less appealing target. It’s also important to act swiftly and seek prosecution if you do catch a trespasser on your land. In the end, the best deterrent is often simply making it clear that encroaching on your property comes with real consequences.