Most of us are very careful about protecting our homes. But we often fail to consider the valuables we have in our gardens, such as ornaments, expensive plants, and the contents of our garden sheds.
Nearly 700,000 thefts from gardens and outbuildings took place in the year up to March 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Analysis from Which? also revealed that thefts from gardens can increase by as much as 25% during the summer months.
Ceri Thomas, gardening editor at Which? said: “With thefts from sheds on the rise in summer months, people should check whether their home contents insurance covers outbuildings and whether they need to cover items held outside the home separately. In the meantime, our advice is to keep sheds locked at all times, fit a battery-operated alarm, and chain and padlock expensive items.”
Be particularly careful if you use a shed or outbuilding as a home office, as technology such as laptops or phones are always tempting targets for thieves. Between 2012-14, Which? says that 342 laptops, 387 computers and 447 phones were stolen from sheds in the London area alone.
Standard home insurance policies will usually cover the contents of garages, sheds and greenhouses, but check for any policy limits and exclusions. You must also ensure all buildings are kept locked.
Some policies will also protect “contents in the open” such as ornaments, pots and barbecues. Where possible, you should try to secure these items using chains and locks, or set them into concrete so that they can’t be moved. You may also want to mark your postcode on any important items with indelible ink, so that if they’re stolen and then recovered there’s a better chance of them finding their way back to you.
Planting holly bushes, hawthorn or other prickly plants around the boundaries of your garden can be off-putting to burglars
You can also deter thieves by making access more difficult. Planting holly bushes, hawthorn or other prickly plants around the boundaries of your garden can be off-putting to burglars who will want to get in and out as quickly (and painlessly) as possible. If you have fences, add trellis to the top as this makes it more difficult for burglars to climb over. Putting gravel on paths and driveways can also help, as it makes it harder for thieves to be quiet.
It’s also a good idea to put motion sensor lights around your garden, so that any unwanted visitors are thrown into the spotlight. Always lock any tools or garden equipment you’ve been using during the day away at night, particularly if they could be used to gain entry to your property.
Keep in mind that it isn’t just burglars that could ruin your garden. You should also monitor weather reports carefully, as extreme conditions can wreak havoc on your outside space. If heavy winds are forecast, store items such as trampolines and garden furniture inside or tie them down securely so that they can’t fly away and cause damage to your property.
A spokesman for Direct Line said: “Damage to garage and shed doors are also common claims so be sure to keep these closed and locked when not in use. This will not only prevent the wind blowing them off their hinges, it is good practice to keep your property secure to avoid an opportunist burglary.”