As a homeowner we often overlook how lucky we are to have gardens where we can relax and get some peace and quiet, grow our own fruit and vegetables or have friends round to sit outside and enjoy the summer sunshine. It’s only once you move to a new property without a garden that you appreciate the true value of a garden, but it’s not just the value that homeowners frequently overlook.
Gardens present the ideal opportunities for thieves to help themselves to our possessions, especially when they’re just left out in the open with very poor security to deter them, if any at all. A lot of people are under the assumption that because they’ve never been burgled, they’re unlikely to be targeted; while others believe that just putting their furniture or equipment in the shed is doing enough to deter them. The fact is, if burglars want to get at something and they don’t have to break in to get it, they will. That’s why retailers such as gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk and experts like the Royal Horticultural Society always advise people to install locks on the doors AND windows of their outbuildings.
The RHS say that “the first line of defence is the boundary or perimeter of your garden”, but also warn that the measures implemented to keep people out of the garden must remain within the law. The reason for this is that there have been instances where potential intruders have been injured on crime prevention measures such as barbed wire and then successfully sued the home owners for their injuries. Instead, they recommend high fences and security lighting to make entry to and exit from the property more difficult and highlighting any movements in the darkness, alerting either the homeowner or neighbours.
One way of securing the boundary of your property is to plant and maintain bushes and trees which will grow and act as deterrents to criminals, making it much more difficult for them to get out of our garden with any of your possessions, particularly the larger, more expensive goods that they may be looking to sell on such as lawnmowers or ornaments.
Another top tip is to lay a gravel path or driveway somewhere on the approach to your property so that anyone coming towards the house or garden, or trying to get away, won’t be able to do so quietly which has the potential to alert you, your neighbours or your pets to their presence. What’s more, if someone does manage to steal from your property, the gravel may be able to hold some evidence of who it was for the police to analyse – especially if the person has left behind a distinctive footprint or tyre tracks.
It’s also highly recommended that homeowners should check their fence panels and gates to ensure that the hinges and screws are all tightly fastened. It is not unheard of for criminals to remove loose gates by lifting them off their hinges, or to squeeze through gaps in the loose fence panels so be sure to go round and check them regularly.
On that note, if you are going to be leaving any furniture or possessions outside in the open, such as swings, pots or ornaments, then you should consider bolting them to the ground so that they can’t be easily lifted and carried away.
Many items in the garden can be easily replaced without it costing nearly as much as the possessions inside your home, however, you should check that you are covered for items in the garden or any outbuildings under the terms of your home insurance policy. You might think that you’re covered because everything is technically on your property, but some insurers will have different regulations for items kept outside your home.
A final tip to improve your garden security would be to look into the installation of alarm systems on any outbuildings you may have, and that includes fitting the alarm to the windows. It may seem a bit extreme in order to protect a few garden chairs and a table along with your ten-year old lawnmower, but if it means you don’t have to spend money on replacing them when funds are already tight enough and the items are more than good enough to keep you going, why take the risk?