As the warmer weather arrives our thoughts turn to our gardens. Sadly, so do thieves as The Co-operative Insurance has revealed two-thirds of us have been the victim of green-fingered theft with a typical £208 haul.
And it’s not just a few stems of prized roses that are lifted; hanging baskets, garden plants, trees and even turf are the most sought-after items to steal along with garden machinery, chimineas and even Koi Carp. Incredibly, a recent Home Office study found that thieves are more likely to take gnomes than your credit cards! The average garden is worth £2,000 and we spend £30,000 on our patches in a lifetime, so it’s an asset worth protecting. Use our top tips to deter thieves and trespassers.
How to secure your borders
- Ensure garages and outbuildings are bolted with a secure lock and secure sheds with a padlock attached to a strong hasp and staple – there’s a good selection at Screwfix.com.
- Secure shed hinges with coach bolts. Consider blacking out shed and garden windows so you’re not advertising contents to thieves. A burglar will follow the path of least resistance so lock your garden gate with two locks top and bottom, particularly a side gate as this is an easy option to gain access. Then chain up or lock away anything a thief could use to climb up on such as wheelie bins.
- Planting prickly bushes including Pyracanthus, Berberis and thorny-climbing roses such as ‘Compassion’ and ‘New Dawn’ can make it more difficult to access your garden. Consider fixing trellis on top of your fence so it breaks and alerts you to an intruder. Filling your driveways or front paths with pebbles or gravel can help you to hear someone approaching your property. Motion sensitive lights can be a great deterrent so investing in lights, front and back, to deter anyone from even entering your garden.
- Tag patio furniture, BBQ’s, expensive pots and garden machinery with your postcode using invisible ink. Take photos of valuables as your insurer may want proof of ownership if you have to claim for its loss.
- Cover garden furniture when not in use to remove temptation. You can secure ornaments, bird tables, water features and bigger planters with wires, perhaps hidden under the flower beds or set them into concrete and for expensive trees, consider a tree anchor (try Platypus – www.green-tech-co.uk). And while it may seem unlikely that heavier items like a bench or hot tub will be stolen, it happens, so use chains and locks wherever you can.
- Put bricks or stones in the bottom of patio tubs to make them more difficult for thieves to carry. You can even microchip koi carp and bonsai trees.
- Check you have adequate insurance cover and are clear on what's covered. Most policies cover up to a certain amount, but insurers may specify that items should be locked in a shed, garage or house. If you have left your items unlocked and outside, insurers may refuse to pay out. Update them with any new garden buys.
- Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme to protect your and your neighbours’ properties. July and August is a peak time for green-fingered thefts so be especially on your guard as it warms up.
Words Yours Money editor Sarah Jagger
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