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Summer is the time to get outside and enjoy your garden – in between rain storms, of course – which is why many people spend a lot of money making their garden summer ready. However, few are prepared for the losses that could ensue should a garden thief strike, and given that one does every 43 seconds, it could be time to start taking outdoor security a little more seriously.
According to research from SunLife, the average contents of a typical garden are worth £2,000, and that's just for starters – many homes have much higher value items in their garden, from pricey furniture and ornaments to rare plants and fish, and that's before we even get to things like BBQs and hot tubs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, thieves are 25% more likely to target gardens in the summer months, with many of us leaving items in the garden overnight. What might be quite surprising, however, is the frequency at which they strike: according to figures from the ONS, there were 730,000 thefts from gardens and outhouses between April 2015 and March 2016, equating to more than 2,000 each day – or 83 thefts every hour.
Despite this, few people seem to give garden security the attention it deserves, and many may not think about covering their outdoor items under their home insurance policy, either. If you've never really thought about it before, now's the time to check your policy – most providers offer garden cover as standard while for others it's an optional extra, but given that it could protect you against loss or damage to the entire contents of your garden, it makes sense to include it.
However, it's just as important to take practical steps to prevent thieves from striking in the first place, and many rules of thumb are similar to those used for general home security, as SunLife points out.
For example, you want to make absolutely certain that you lock all garden gates to ensure you're not giving thieves easy access, together with sheds and outbuildings, as it's surprising how quickly the cost of tools, lawnmowers etc. can add up. And don't forget about your bike – around 19,000 bikes are stolen each year, equating to more than 50 a day, so don't make it easy on potential thieves by failing to lock it away.
Similarly, make sure that all tools and valuables are carefully stored away when you're not using them. This is particularly the case if you're spending a weekend gardening or doing odd jobs – don't just think you can pick up where you left off in the morning, as with more than 21,000 tools being stolen every year, you want to make certain everything's locked away overnight.
Security lights and those on a timer are just as much of a deterrent to thieves targeting your garden as those targeting your home, and likewise a driveway full of gravel will make them think twice about sneaking around, as will tall fences and hedges. Consider anchoring down items that can't be stored away, such as ornaments and furniture, so that even if they're not out of sight, they can't be quickly carried away.
However, as SunLife General Insurance director Simon Stanney points out, "while all these measures can do a great deal to deter thieves, they cannot keep your items completely safe, so you should make sure you have good cover in place". Make sure to check the small print of your insurance policy or even get a completely new quote if you're after a better deal, and that way you can have complete peace of mind the rest of the summer.
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