How to keep your outdoor furniture secure

The Lazy Susan team and I wanted to take a detailed look at how to keep your outdoor furniture secure

Theft from gardens accounts for a staggering 9 out of 10 household thefts. 

It’s an easy target, easy to access, less risk for the criminals.

According to a survey by the leading financial services provider, SunLife:

There were 595,000 thefts from ‘outside a dwelling’ in 2018. That is a scary 23% increase from 483,000 in 2017.

That equates to an average of around 11,500 thefts from our gardens, garages and sheds every week. 

A jaw dropping 90% of all household thefts are from the outside of our homes. 

We’re spending more on our gardens than we ever have before too. 

According to the HTA, in the UK alone we’re spending around £7.5billion per year on 'garden goods'.

Items such as Garden Furniture, BBQ’s, Patio Heaters, etc are big ticket items too, we have more 'stuff' on our patios, and that stuff is easy to take. 

Factor in the cost of goods we store in sheds such as gardening tools, bikes, etc, and you can see why the unscrupulous would look to take advantage and exploit.

Even items that you think would be difficult to steal such as a full large planter are fair game.

These items are desirable and have a high resale value. 

I’ve seen many a local newspaper article that includes CCTV footage of thieves loading vans with the contents of a garden, large planters and plants (which we all know can cost us a good chunk of cash) included.

A recent article in the Telegraph highlighted a recent rise in plant thefts. 

As they say:

Hang on to your hollyhocks! Not only has lockdown turned us into a nation of gardeners, it’s triggered an unlikely new crime wave.

Lazy Susan’s garden security tips

As a nation we’re spending thousands of pounds to make our gardens a place we want to spend time, however, are we keeping our outdoor oases secure? 

The value of the items we have in our gardens often amounts to a substantial sum, and most household insurance policies only offer limited (if any) cover for garden/outdoor items. 

However, there’s a number of simple and relatively inexpensive things we can do to improve our garden security and better protect our patios:

Fences & Hedges

Of course, the easiest way to protect our gardens is to make access difficult for would be thieves...

Reduce opportunity!

And we also appreciate this isn’t always feasible, such is often the case with most front gardens. However, some of the tips below will help in this instance too. 

But when it comes to the rear of your property, which is where many of the big ticket items such as outdoor furniture are kept, a good fence or hedge (or combination of both) is a great deterrent.

The Met Police website has some great pointers about how protecting your garden makes your home safer.

They recommend some great species if you want to go down the natural defence route too.

Fencing is the quicker (and often cheaper) option to install though. If you do go down this route, then you can have a sturdy, secure one up in a matter of days.

If you do feel that that it is easy to access the rear of your property (i.e. you back on to open land for example), then you could also consider anti-climb paint and/or fence security spikes?

If you have an existing fence of hedge, then the key is to ensure it is well maintained with no gaps or loose panels, etc.

Security Lighting

Another effective and affordable way to protect your garden is with the installation of outdoor security lighting.

Although we would still advise you combine it with another method of security, such as an alarm system or CCTV, the mere presence of security lighting is often enough to both deter and alert you to any would-be garden thieves

The key to good garden security lighting is to make sure the system uses motion detection and that it is installed to illuminate problem (such as a shed or patio) or any dark spots in your garden (not your neighbours bedroom).

Plus, if you go for motion detection it will only come on when movement is detected so it isn’t going to significantly increase your electricity bills.

In fact, a good security system (where you pair lighting with CCTV or an alarm) could actually save you money by reducing your insurance premiums.

Alarm

Most homes are fitted with an alarm these days, wether we use them or not is a whole other article. However, many of us don’t have our sheds or any detached garages/out buildings alarmed...

Our advice would be to consider extending your current alarm system to cover or fit them with their own system.

You can even purchase a number of relatively inexpensive shed and garage alarm systems that are not only reliable but easy to install.

Modern kits are wireless, battery powered, remote controlled and even modular so you can add to/adapt the system to best fit your needs.

Yale Wireless Shed & Garage Alarm
Yale for example offer a great system (pictured above) that is simple to install, can be wall-mounted or left freestanding, is wire free and battery operated, so no need to run any cables.

CCTV

Much like security lighting and alarm systems, CCTV is another option that has made significant strides in recent years.

It is now affordable, easy to install (by which I mean battery powered and wireless), and with connection is via WiFi, data is easily transferred to your phone or home computer.

With a host of leading tech firms bringing systems to the market such as Google’s Nest, Amazon’s Blink, and home security company Ring, CCTV is appearing in more and more UK homes and gardens.

I myself have a Blink Outdoor HD Security Camera (pictured below) in my back garden, more for peace of mind than anything else. 

Amazon Blink Outdoor Camera 
It’s connected to both my phone (via their app) and our Amazon Alexa and it runs (for up to two years) on just two AA lithium batteries.

I’m lucky that where I’ve positioned the camera/how my property is set that it doesn’t over look any neighbouring properties… You can only capture footage of your own home and garden!

If it includes a neighbours garden or a public area such as the street, then you need to comply with data protection legislation. 

The gov.uk website has all the advice and info you need.

Secure It

This is another measure we would advise you take even if you’ve got a security camera, lighting and or an alarm in place!

Even with all the above, thieves could still target your garden, as the CCTV videos I mentioned at the start demonstrate. 

Most will be deterred but there’s always the chance some will take it regardless. 

Therefore, it becomes more about:

  1. What else can you do to make it difficult for would-be thieves?
  2. Making sure that if it anything is taken from your garden, that your insurance policy covers you for the loss
  3. Taking steps to potentially get the items returned if they’re recovered (or at the very least make them hard to sell).

When it comes to making things difficult, we're talking about things like making sure planters are too heavy to move, fixing items permanently in place, using chains and locks, etc.

In terms of outdoor furniture, if you can’t (or don’t want to) store it in a shed or garage when not in use, then our advice would be to fix it down.

And the best way to do this is with ground or wall anchors to lock them in place when not in use.

There’s a wide variety of different types available, so shop around to find a solution that works best for you, your garden furniture and the type of surface you want to fix them to, for example; stone patios, brick, gravel, lawn, timber decking, etc.

Amazon offer a great range of different types of lock and anchor such as the Sterling GA3 (pictured below). 

Ground Anchor

Pair it with a Yale 2200mm Security Cable and a Yale High Security Anti-Cut Laminated Padlock, and you can thread it through your outdoor furniture to secure it in place.

You can also use the above solution to secure any expensive planters too. Alternatively, look at fixing them permanently in place with cement or by bolting them down.

Baskit Genie Hanging Basket Locks 
There’s even locks for your hanging baskets such as the Baskit Geni™️ (pictured above), which I believe featured on the BBC's Dragons' Den program but I'm afraid I haven't watched it.

Mark & Tag It

If you’re not in a position to secure an item in place then you can make it difficult for would be thieves to sell or easy for police to track by marking and/or tagging.

The simplest way to do this with outdoor furniture is to mark your contact details on the underside of tables/chairs with a UV Pen. 

This is an invisible mark that can only be seen under UV light, it is in inexpensive, and it won’t spoil the look of your furniture or reduce the value.

If you want the item to be easily traced if taken, then maybe tagging it is the way to go?

There’s a range of electronic tagging systems on the market that you can easily embedded/fix to your outdoor furniture, so that it can be ID’d, tracked and recovered if stolen.

Movement detectors/sensors can also be attached to expensive items such as garden furniture, so that an alarm is set-off if/when they’re moved.

Ultra Secure Direct sell a comprehensive range of easy to install wireless outdoor alarms and sensors that will help you best protect & monitor the outside of your home. 

Check your Insurance Policy!

Last on our list, but the first thing you need to do after reading this article, is to check that your insurance policy covers you for theft from your garden and outbuildings!

Items stolen from a garage or shed for example are more likely to be covered than those taken from the garden, so that expensive outdoor furniture set might not be covered. 

Speak to your provider to find out exactly what is covered. 

Big ticket items such as outdoor furniture will often need to be listed as a ‘specified item’.

Cover for your garden is sometimes included in your home insurance policy but not always, so know what’s what. 

Most providers now offer specialist garden insurance such as Hiscox and eSure for example.

Our advice would be to start by reading Money Super Market’s compare home insurance quotes to protect your garden article, as this will help you establish what’s covered and if you need a separate garden insurance policy.