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Don’t fall foul of green-fingered thieves

Don’t fall foul of green-fingered thieves

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 31/05/2016
First Published: 31/05/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The second May bank holiday traditionally heralds the proper start of summer, and that means many of us could be spending more time in our outdoor spaces in the months ahead. But, so could green-fingered opportunists, with The Co-operative Insurance warning people to be on their guard this summer.

Their latest research has found that 66% of us have been the victim of garden thieves at least once, with garden thefts peaking in July and August (being 45% more likely than in February) and the resulting claim on a home insurance policy totting up to an average of £208. Perhaps surprisingly, it isn't only the odd garden gnome that appears to vanish without a trace, because these days, digging up plants, shrubs, trees and even turf isn't uncommon – this kind of theft affected 25% of respondents, which highlights the lengths some people will go to to turn a profit.

Garden machinery is next on the list of most desirable items, with 18% of respondents having had their lawn mowers or hedge cutters stolen in the past, followed by garden furniture (16%), pots (16%), toys such as playhouses and swings (14%), and sculptures (8%). Your barbecue may not escape the keen eyes of a garden thief, either, with 8% of respondents falling victim to such a theft, while the growing popularity of things like chimeneas offers a whole new target, with 7% having suffered such a loss – and a further 4% have even had their Koi carp stolen.

Given that people spend so much time and money on their outside spaces these days, it's perhaps little wonder that the average claim amount of £208 has risen by almost half (48%) since 2011. However, despite the potential losses involved, 77% of respondents said they didn't claim for the stolen items on their home insurance, while 5% didn't even have such cover lined up.

Caroline Hunter, head of Home Insurance at The Co-operative, commented on the findings: "As summer approaches, now is the perfect time to spruce up your garden and clean off the outdoor furniture ready for enjoying the sun. However, relaxing days shouldn't lead to lax security, [as] unfortunately, garden items are desirable to thieves."

She advises that you make sure things are safely locked away or taken indoors when you aren't in the garden, and never leave things like bikes outside or on display in any way, as they could easily entice thieves. Also, make sure to check your home insurance policy so you're confident you're fully covered, and always keep things like ladders away from prying eyes – you wouldn't want to make it easy for a thief to get access to your property!

"Nowadays, the garden is increasingly becoming an extension of the home," added Caroline. "As people expand their living space outdoors, they are undoubtedly spending more on their gardens; however, many probably don't consider just how much they are spending, and we'd advise them to update their insurer about their al-fresco purchases."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.