01 Apr Protect your Garden from Thieves
As the summer approaches, many of us will be looking forward to spending time in the garden. However, as the mercury rises so does the chance of your garden being targeted by thieves as green-fingered theft surges in summer.
In fact, June to August is peak season for thefts; Co-op Insurance revealed that the average garden insurance claim was £582 in 2017. Ornaments, trees and shrubs, furniture, bicycles and lawn mowers are on burglars’ most-wanted list. Even bouncy castles go walkabout!
Not only can the theft be inconvenient, it can also be upsetting if something of sentimental value is taken. Plus, you may end up out of pocket if you don’t have adequate insurance. The good news is there are simple measures you can take to protect your garden goodies.
1. Sheds and outbuildings
Sheds are easy pickings for thieves. A third of us admit to leaving them unlocked, with an average of £550 worth of treasures inside, says M&S Bank! One of the simplest ways to secure your shed is to fit a strong hasp and staple lock to the door, together with a padlock. You should also check your shed for disrepair as this could make it easier for thieves to break in. Screen your shed’s windows with blinds, so thieves can’t see what you’re storing inside. Also, consider extending your house alarm to cover outbuildings.
2. Lighting and CCTV
Invest in outdoor security lighting, at the front and back of the house, to discourage thieves entering your garden. A CCTV camera and motion-detecting lights are the biggest deterrents when looking to break in, say former burglars. A good example is a Ring Spotlight Cam Battery which alerts you via your smart device when anyone triggers the motion sensor. Display signs which advertise your security measures.
3. Gates and fences
Keep garden gates locked with a heavy-duty padlock. Replace screws and fastenings which have rusted. Fix trellis to the top of garden fences which will break if someone tries to climb it. Fix any gaps in your fence, replacing weather-damaged panels.
4. Drives and pathways
Fill driveways and paths with gravel so you can hear someone approaching. This also makes any attempted getaway with a wheelbarrow very slow!
5. Remove climbable items
Ladders and wheelie bins can be used by burglars to get into a garden. It’s important to store them where they can’t be seen or reached – or lock them up so they can’t be moved.
6. Garden equipment
To stop thieves making off with your pots, place heavyweights like bricks under the soil. You can also buy tree anchors to protect your greenery or invest in an automatic alarm that alerts you if anyone attempts to remove it. Use chains and locks for heavier items, like benches or hot tubs. Tag items, such as patio furniture, barbecues, chimeneas and garden machinery, with your postcode using invisible ink. Make your lawn mower distinctive by painting it with motifs. In addition, take photos of your valuable items should an insurer want proof of ownership.
7. Prickly plants
Use thorny plants, such as berberis, holly, and blackthorn, to protect your garden’s entry areas, which will also make it difficult to scale walls and fences. Put roses and pyracantha under windows to deter thieves from forcing entry and create barriers to entry through dense hedges formed from plants, such as beech.
Pampas, yucca, and gooseberry bushes can all help keep burglars at bay. Prune trees to remove any hiding places and makes sure there are no gaps in bushes for anyone to slip through.
Bikes are a popular item for thieves as they’re light, valuable, and easy to sell – and many of us leave them in the garden, says Admiral Insurance. Shopping around to find a quality security device and anchoring your bike to an immovable object will deter criminals. Cyclists should take care when choosing home insurance cover. You may be covered by the overall contents sum insured or covered up to a fixed total limit. Alternatively, you can be protected within optional personal possessions cover, or within separate cycle cover – so it’s important to check the terms and conditions of their policy to avoid being underinsured.
9. Check your insurance
Do a garden inventory – you might be surprised at how much your garden items are worth! Then dig out your home contents insurance to see what is – and what’s not – covered in your garden, as policies vary greatly.
‘Never assume you’re protected,’ says Georgie Frost, advocate for GoCompare Home Insurance. ‘Some policies won’t pay out if you leave expensive items out on display, and some may only pay out so long as items are locked away in a shed or garage. And a third of policies don’t cover plants.’
‘If the contents of your garden are particularly valuable top-up your insurance or consider a specialist garden insurance policy offering high cover levels,’ she adds.