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Garden theft on the rise: how to outsmart the burglars

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High tech alarms and fancy video doorbells may stop burglars breaking into your home – but what about protecting your garden from thieves?

A new report warns garden theft is on the rise, as robbers seek out more easily accessible gear such as BBQs, trampolines, garden furniture, and bikes.

There were 595,000 thefts ‘outside a dwelling’ last year – up 23 per cent from 2017, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data by insurer Sunlife.

And while theft from gardens, sheds and other outbuildings is generally covered as standard by most home contents insurance policies, the amount of cover varies.

“Most insurers have a ‘single item limit’ so if you want cover for specific valuable items, you should let your home insurance provider know,” said Simon Stanney, general insurance director at SunLife.

Here, Stanney offers his top five tips on how you can protect your garden and its contents from theft this summer:

Lock up and put things away

If you are out all day in the garden it is tempting to leave tools, furniture, bikes and other valuables out, either for use again the next day, or while you pop out for more supplies.

But leaving them out makes them prime targets for thieves, so it is important that you put these items away when you are not around and at night and that you lock any sheds, garages and gates. It is a sad fact that thieves use tools they find in gardens to break into houses, so don’t make it easy for them.

Secure items to the ground, fences and walls

Ideally all valuable items would be put away to prevent theft, but sometimes this is simply not practical, so for bigger items which cannot easily be stored, think about anchoring them to the ground.

Garden furniture thefts account for the majority of garden thefts so prevent it by using wall or floor anchors.

It is also a good idea to secure things like trampolines, water features, bird tables, and valuable plants, hanging brackets and potted trees and shrubs.  By anchoring them with wires, or setting in concrete, it makes it almost impossible for thieves to take them away.

Covers for furniture also act as a deterrent (especially if they are anchored to the ground) and also protects furniture so can be really useful.

Get lights

One of the biggest deterrents for thieves is motion sensitive security lights; they draw attention to your home and put thieves off from targeting it. Making it ‘noisy’ to enter your garden can also discourage would-be thieves, so putting gravel down can help. Having high fences, walls and hedges to make entering your garden more difficult is also a good idea.

Don’t make it obvious when you go away

If you are away, try and get someone to pop over every now and again to water your plants, put your rubbish out on the right day – perhaps even mow your lawn – so it will look like you are still around. Maybe see if someone will park their car on your drive at night too.  Think about putting lights on a timer and don’t post pictures of your holiday on social media while you’re still away!

Leave a fingerprint

It is a good idea to mark all your valuables – not only does it make them identifiable which can help with the recovery if they are stolen, but if you make it clear to thieves that your items are marked, they are less appealing and potentially less valuable so not worth taking.

Sunlife is currently offering all new home insurance customers who buy a policy directly a free fingerprint forensic property marking kit.

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