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TIMMINS – It's that time of year when a lot of people are closing up their camps, trailers and cottages for the winter.

Brian Jones is taking extra care in locking up his family's cottage camp at Kenogamissi Lake this year.

The area saw a number of break-ins in late October 2018, which he says shook the community and made him more cautious about keeping the family getaway secure.

"Cottages are important to anyone who has one. They're family places; there are things in there that could not be replaced if we lost them. There's a sense of value that we are trying to protect… It's just a higher awareness that it's important that we all look after each other," said Jones.

Officials say the winter season is prime-time for cottage looting and that property owners should take steps to bolster their security while they're away.

"An alarm system provides reporting in real time. So when that break-in is occurring, you're being made aware of it right away and are able to act on it right away," explained Kevin Buckland, True Steel Security General Manager.

Jones says his neighbours' cottages have been broken into, so some are going as far as setting up motion-triggered security cameras to record intruders.

But the Timmins Police Service recommends additional safety steps.

"We also recommend that ladders, shovels, axes, anything that can be used to pry open the door or gain access to a second story, must be placed in storage. We also strongly recommend that strong inventory is taken of all items in the cottage," said Marc Depatie, Timmins Police Service.

Jones says neighbours also keep in close contact to make sure their properties are safe and that he's confident going into this winter.

But in the unfortunate event of a break-in, experts say having insurance that covers theft is the last line of defence in the face of determined looters.