Secure Your Generator! How to Prevent Theft.

After spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on any item, we should be cautious about securing it and preventing its theft. Portable generators are no exception. In fact, out of all of the items in your house, you probably won’t find anything as expensive that’s as easy to steal!

Outdoor power equipment is one of the most sought out loot by thieves. They are expensive, moveable, they don’t lose much value on resale. Furthermore, they are in general less guarded, since you rarely keep them inside your house.

My goal today is to provide you with some options, other than “don’t brag about your generator” – yes, I actually found this on the internet.

Let’s be realistic, if a thief really wants to steal something, he will do it no matter what. However, thieves tend to pick the least secured targets. So let’s make their job as hard as possible!

Secure Your Property

Picture of a security camera on a building's wallWhile this is a pretty general tip, it’s probably the most important one. If a thief sees that your house is less accessible than your neighbor’s, he will simply skip it and try his luck elsewhere.

Entire books have been written on this topic, and many blogs and companies, way more qualified than me, focus on writing about home security (opens in a new tab). However, here are some general tips.

Having a home security system and bragging about it is an absolute must nowadays – if you’re the only one in your neighborhood who doesn’t have one, you’re basically inviting thieves into your house.

  • No fences should be left open, nor unlocked.
  • No valuable items should be left visibly in your yard.
  • Having around cameras, even fake ones, is ought to help.
  • If you have a dog, make sure to let everybody know with a sign and a doghouse – even if he won’t sleep there, the thieves will expect him somewhere around.
More Resources

Always Use a Proper Lock

Picture of a small lock and a thin steel chainAnd now for the generator itself…

What is the easiest, most obvious way to secure it? A lock, of course! However, don’t be fooled. Any thief has a pair of nasty cutters that can frankly cut through most commercially available locks as if they were butter. So, how do we prevent that?

The most practical choice would be a cable lock, which allows you to attach the generator to basically anything. Well, forget about it. A well-equipped thief will be done with them in a matter of seconds.

Going for something thicker is a must – a robust steel chain. But even then, you haven’t won. Regardless of how thick it may be, a stainless-steel chain won’t be of much use if it is held together by a flimsy little pad lock.

Either go for a proper, thick bike lock like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit (opens in a new tab) or a nasty chain with a durable lock mechanism. While these aren’t perfect, they are much better than any other alternative and will require more than a wire cutter or a saw to cut through them.

Inverter Generators

If you are an owner of a suitcase-style inverter generator, you may notice a troublesome paradox. The only way to lock your generator is through its plastic handle, which is weaker than the lock! And even though a generator with an obviously reattached handle will sell for less, it is still worth cutting through and stealing.

Extra precautions should be taken to prevent this scenario. You can find “security brackets”, which are usually brand/model specific (such as this one on Amazon for Honda inverters), for this purpose. And if you’re particularly crafty, it shouldn’t be hard to make your own, using some scrap metal.

Consider a Generator Enclosure

If you are using your generator as a home backup, there really is no reason to not have it under a dedicated generator enclosure. It keeps the eyes off your device, protects it from the elements, can be easily secured with an extra lock or an alarm and is overall, pretty nifty.

To learn more about generator covers and enclosures, what they should look like, be made from, and more, check out our article on how to protect your generator from the elements.

Get an Alarm

While locking a generator and keeping it out of sight is a great preventative measure, it might not be enough. After all, a lock just makes theft somewhat harder. It won’t actually scare the thief off, or let you know that the device is being stolen. That’s where we can take it to the next level – with an alarm!

I believe we’re all familiar with the principle behind security alarms – They make a dreadful noise when triggered. However, the way they trigger (opens in a new tab) is crucial to their function and ranges wildly! Therefore, instead of going through ultrasound detectors or fibre-optic systems, I will present the options that I find useful for the purpose of protecting your generator.

Door Alarm

As mentioned above, your generator should be stored either in a shed, or a dedicated cover. This gives you the option of securing the entrance to this storage space by a door alarm – magnetic, or trip wire based.

Door alarms come in various shapes sizes and are exceedingly more sophisticated – You can make your own, buy one in a dollar store, or go for a high tech, Bluetooth connected smart alarm.

Cable Alarm

Cable alarm is simply a cable lock, usually with a flimsy cable, or simply a wire, which will trigger whenever the wire is cut, or pulled on too hard. They are cheap and are especially great when traveling.

Power Outlet Alarm

A power outlet, power socket or a power outage alarm is a peculiar device, which is plugged into a socket and can sometimes function as an extension cord. It is triggered whenever power supply is cut, which can let you know both when you’ve run out of fuel, but also if somebody just unplugged your generator in an attempt to steal it while it’s exposed and running.

Generator Recovery

Let’s say that it comes to the worst and somebody has stolen your portable generator. Is it gone forever? To be honest, most likely. However, there are ways to increase your chance of recovering your stolen device.

Make Your Generator Identifiable

Even though it may be useless in the end, it doesn’t hurt to make it as obvious as possible that your generator belongs to you. Here are two ways how to go about it.

Mark Down the Serial Number

The best way for the law enforcement to identify your stolen goods is by their serial number – be sure to write it down, or keep the documentation, where it should be.

In addition, you can enter the serial number into internet databases of stolen goods (opens in a new tab) to further increase your chances of recovery.

Sign Your Generator

Carve or engrave either your initials, full name, or even an entire message, to let any second-hand buyers know that this device has belonged to you and has been most likely stolen.

Try Out a GPS Tracker

A GPS tracker? This may sound like a tip from a Bond movie. I mean, come on, isn’t this a bit of an overkill? Yes, but if you’re ever going to try one of these out, this may be the perfect occasion to do so.

Nowadays, GPS trackers go for just a few bucks on Amazon (opens in a new tab), so why not fulfill your childhood dreams and play around with them?

Final words

Even though we could go on and on, on this topic, I believe we have exhausted the most important and practical tips I could have given.

With these precautions in place, you are pretty unlikely to face theft and hopefully, they will give you a new perspective and motivate you to try out new ways of securing your property, including your generator.

How do you secure your portable generator? Let us know in the comments below!



Manager & Editor of generatorbible.com. Early retired from the OPE industry, living in South Carolina. He now mostly spends his time traveling and taking care of his wife and grand-children.

  1. My bf and mom went halves my bf paying a couple hundred more than her on an inverter generator for us the motorhome one Ryobi 4000 watts generator inverter thing was 1200$at home Depot aren’t there or shouldn’t there be anti theft features in the machine? Especially since it is designed for rving?? Like aren’t there laws that keep people from making and selling basically bullshit you can’t literally carry everywhere we didn’t have it for one day, I actually think it’s my mom or stepdad and there family that stole it😵🤣😭 like everything in life I guess thanks for a whole lot of nothing.

  2. Dear Paul,
    I have been spending considerable time lately trying to select a portable generator to use during northeast power outages. I want to thank you for all the guidance you have provided, not just in helping me make a choice, but in educating me about so many tangential issues that I had not thought about. You are a wealth of valuable information.

    Meredith F.

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