This month we wanted to share some of our garden furniture security tips and look at why and how you can keep your Lazy Susan Garden Furniture safe from thieves.
The pandemic has seen us spending on garden improvement like never before, and here at Lazy Susan, we’ve seen record year on year sales.
However, with more garden furniture items in our gardens, the unscrupulous will look to take advantage, and gardens are often seen as a soft target.
We’ve read numerous articles over the last 6 months or so that highlight some truly alarming statistics in terms of the numbers of garden furniture thefts in summer 2021, with insurance companies quoting figures between 45% and 50% increase in claims from the previous year.
And it’s not just garden furniture; shed and garage break-ins, gardening tools, children’s outdoor toys, plant theft, they’re all on the rise. There are even reports of homeowners having their hot tubs/jacuzzis stolen and we dread to think what damage was done in those instances!
This is often about more than just the loss of the material...
It is that damage they often do to your property in order to take these (often bulky) items, and of course, the thought of somebody on our property, especially if you’re at home sleeping at the time.
Unfortunately, though, our gardens are often an easy target, easy to access with less risk, and they often contain expensive items that are easy to take. So, it is vital we take steps to protect them and to check that our insurance policies cover us if we want to keep them safe.
Why garden furniture security is important
Theft from our gardens accounts for a staggering 9 out of 10 household thefts, with an average of around 11,500 thefts from our gardens, garages and sheds every week. And those numbers are rising!
A recent study by Aviva highlighted that this time last year thefts from our gardens made up 11% of the total UK home insurance claims. This is a drastic increase from the previous year when that figure was only 3%.
We’re spending more on our gardens than we ever have before too.
According to the HTA, in the UK alone we are spending on average £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 if 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 thieves would look to take advantage and why that jaw-dropping figure of 90% (of all household thefts being from our gardens) is so high.
Even items that you think would be difficult to steal such as the aforementioned jacuzzi or a full large planter (with soil and plants we may add) are all fair game.
These items are desirable and have a high resale value. We’ve seen many a newspaper article online that includes CCTV video footage of thieves loading a van with the entire contents of some poor homeowners garden. A recent article in The Telegraph also highlighted a recent rise in plant thefts, and as they put it:
“Hang on to your hollyhocks! Not only has lockdown turned us into a nation of gardeners, it’s triggered an unlikely new crime wave.”
How to keep your garden furniture secure
The pandemic had us spending more time and more money on our gardens than ever before.
At Lazy Susan we too have seen records sales, and we’re often spending thousands of pounds on these items to make our gardens the place to spend that quality time.
The value of the items we have in our outdoor spaces often amount to a substantial sum, and most household insurance policies will offer cover for theft and accidental damage.
However, it is vital you know what cover you have and for how much?
Insurers as part of basic home policies will often only cover up to a specified amount. But is that enough to cover what you have? If not, you may need to beef up that policy and pay for some additional garden/outdoor cover.
Of course, there’s also a number of simple and relatively inexpensive steps we can do to improve security and (hopefully) prevent the theft from taking place in the first place.
And of course, the easiest way to protect our gardens is to reduce opportunity and make access/taking those desirable items as difficult as possible for any would-be thieves:
Make it difficult to get to your garden furniture with gates, fencing & hedges
When it comes to the rear of your property, which is where many of the big-ticket items such as garden furniture are kept, a locked gate, good solid fence or hedge (or a combination of both) are one of the best deterrents.
The Met Police have some great tips in their how to protect your garden and make your home safer article, in which they recommend some great natural defences you can plant such as Berberis and Osmanthus.
A good fence is often the quicker (and more cost-effective) route to take 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 or hedge, then the key is to ensure it is well maintained with no gaps or loose panels, high enough to make scaling it (or lifting items over) is difficult and that any gates are solid, secure, and most importantly, locked when necessary, even if you’re just popping to the shops!
Garden security lighting
Another highly effective and affordable way to protect your garden is outdoor security lighting.
We would advise you to combine it with another method of security, such as an alarm system or CCTV, but security lighting with motion detection will deter and at the very least potentially alert you to any would-be garden thieves.
Our guide to garden lighting focuses more on lighting for aesthetic purposes but it covered security in more detail and contains some important technical/safety advice when it comes to products and installation.
For us, the key to good garden security lighting is to make sure the system uses motion detection, and that it is installed to illuminate problem areas(such as a shed or patio) and/or any dark spots/corners of your garden.
A good security system (where you pair security lighting with CCTV and/or an intruder alarm) could actually save you money by reducing your insurance premiums, so always worth costing up and checking against your policy.
Invest in an outdoor alarm system
And whilst we are on the subject of alarm systems, you tend to find that most modern homes are fitted with one, whether we use them or not is a whole other blog post though.
However, whilst most homes are alarmed, many of us don’t connect an alarm system to our sheds, garages, summer houses, outbuildings, patios, etc. And with the wide range of cost-effective wireless systems that are easy to instal now on the market, it makes sense to do so.
They’re not only reliable but super easy to install. Modern outdoor/garden alarm systems are wireless, battery-powered, remote-controlled and even modular so you can add to/adapt the system to best fit your needs.
Focus CCTV on your garden furniture
Much like an outdoor alarm system and security lighting, CCTV is another option that is now easy to instal but highly effective in the fight against thieves. And much of the better systems on the market are fully integrated, so they can all be easily connected and managed via an app.
Much like alarms, modern CCTV is now affordable, simple to install (by which I mean battery-powered, wireless and no need for an electrician), and the connection is via WiFi or Bluetooth, so you can easily monitor and record via your phone, tablet or computer.
Arlo is another who offers a complete solution, you may have seen their recent TV ads for their range of wireless security cameras, floodlights and doorbells.
As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, several of the Lazy Susan Team have Amazon’s Blink Outdoor HD Security Cameras (pictured below) at the front and rear of their properties gardens.
I myself have it, and whilst my own back garden is difficult to access, I still installed it, more for peace of mind than anything else. It’s connected to both my phone (via their app) and our Alexa and it runs on just two AA lithium batteries.
Their basic outdoor security camera (which is the one I have set up at the rear of my property) is pictured above but they also offer a newer model with built-in floodlights.
I’m also lucky that where I’ve positioned the camera/how my property is built that it doesn’t overlook any neighbouring properties.
It is vital you only capture footage of your own home and garden!
If your camera footage does include say your neighbours garden or any public areas such as the street itself, then you need to comply with data protection legislation. The gov.uk website has all the advice and info you need on domestic use of CCTV.
Secure your garden furniture
I have all of the above…
Camera, motion detection lighting and an alarm fitted to the detached garage/storage at the rear of my property.
You could say it is a little belt and braces but when you work in the industry and you read the stats, then it pays to be proactive. Plus, I’m right in the city centre, so it gives us peace of mind.
However, there are also a number of other simple garden furniture security tips that the Lazy Susan team would advise you consider to help keep your garden furniture in particular safe. Simple DIY measures you can put in place to make it as difficult as possible for any would-be thieves to take it.
First off, if (and hopefully it doesn’t) the worst should happen, then you need to make sure you have adequate insurance cover. And by adequate, we mean to cover the value of replacing the items. If the value of your garden furniture is £3,000 then having it only covered up to £2,000 is something we come across regularly. More of that in a moment.
There are also some simple steps you can take to potentially get the items returned if they’re recovered by the police. Or at the very least, make it difficult for them to be sold on.
For example, you could make the items too heavy to move by securing weights to them when not in use, fixing furniture permanently in place, securing it with ground anchors, storing it in an outbuilding with an alarm, or using chains and locks, etc to fasten chairs and tables together.
If you can’t (or you simply don’t want to) store your Lazy Susan Garden Furniture in a shed or garage when not in use, then our advice would be to look at a way of fixing it down with a lock and key when not in use.
For us, the best way to do this is with ground or wall anchors, security chain and padlock. There’s a wide variety of different solutions on the market, so shop around to find one that works best for your furniture and outdoor setup.
Just by way of example, you could easily install the following:
You can easily fit the Ring Plate to a wall, stone patio or decking.
The Security Cable is long enough to loop through/around your garden chairs and tables.
Plus, the coated casing will prevent it from scratching/chipping the finish of your furniture.
Whilst the Padlock is specifically designed for outdoor use, so it will stand up to the elements.
And, it is not just garden furniture...
You could use a similar solution to secure any expensive garden “items” such as BBQs, Patio Heaters, Fire Pits, Jacuzzi’s and even planters.
Most insurance companies will only cover items that are kept under lock and key. So you should also check with them what you need to do to comply with any existing policy and shop around for products that will do the job in your garden.
Mark or tag your garden furniture
If you’re not in a position to take the steps above, then you can still make your garden furniture difficult to take and easy to track by marking and/or maybe tagging it.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to mark each item of furniture with a UV Pen. Just flip it over and write down your contact details on the underside of each table, chair, bench, etc.
It’s invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen under UV light. Also, it won’t spoil the look of your garden furniture or reduce the value, and the pens themselves are relatively inexpensive.
There’s also the option now to tag items with GPS trackers. Vodafone has a smart tracing system known as Curve for example (pictured above). However, I’m afraid this is not something any of the Lazy Susan Team have done with garden furniture. I’m not sure how you would a-fix, but it's one we will investigate further, and see if it is a viable solution.
Definitely a great product for other items such as cars, keys, even dogs, etc though!
Check your insurance policy to see if your garden furniture is covered
For us, this one is probably the most important garden furniture security tip we can give you…
Yes, you should do any or all of the above, however, even with them in place, it might not deter. So, having the right insurance policy and the cover is critical.
After reading this article, if in any doubt, check that your insurance policy covers you for theft from your garden and outbuildings.
Items stolen from a garage or shed are more likely to be covered under most home insurance policies as they fall within the boundaries of your property and are classed as structural. Items taken from the garden, such as garden furniture, might not be, so you need to double-check.
Speak to your provider to find out exactly what is and what isn’t covered. Big-ticket items such as garden furniture will often need to be listed as a “specified item” or “moveable item”.
Cover for this type of item is sometimes included in your home policy, but not always, so know what you’ve got, and if it is only covered for theft only or is accidental damage (such as mother nature) included too?
To tackle the rise in this type of crime, there are now even specialist garden insurance policies from providers such as Hiscox and eSure for example that will cover everything including trees and plants. As we bring the inside-outside, there’s more “stuff”, and that “stuff” needs to be insured.
If you feel this is a route you want to go down, then our advice would be to start by reading things like Compare the Market’s simple guide to home insurance with garden cover. This will help you establish what’s covered and if you need a separate garden insurance policy.
So to summarise:
- Read your policy documents and/or speak to your insurer to find out what’s covered and what’s not.
- Calculate the value of what’s in your garden and check you have enough cover.
- Ask your insurer what they’re prepared to cover, how much they will pay for individual items and if it is for theft and accidental damage.
- Keep a copy of your order confirmation for any big-ticket items such as garden furniture to make any future claims easier.
If you can’t store your garden furniture in a shed or garage, then we always advise that you cover your garden furniture too. It keeps it clean, but more importantly, most home insurance policies will not pay out for general wear and tear, so it makes sense to keep that expensive set looking like new for as long as possible.
Videos showing you how to make your home and garden more secure
If you want to lessen the chances of a burglar stealing from your garden building, then this video from Garden Buildings Direct has 8 useful tips to keep it secured.
This next video from Skill Builder has some more general tips for protecting your home against intruders but many are also applicable to the garden too.
Herts Police have produced this great video that asks the question; how secure is your garden?
The next video from Anglian Home Improvement is an interesting one as they use reformed criminal turned security expert Richard Taylor to show us how a potential burglar might scan your property for ways in and things to steal.
And, in this final video from Homebase, they have some great tips on how to secure your garden using fencing.
We are spending more than ever on our gardens, both time and money. However, they’re often seen as an easy target for thieves. And if the worst should happen, we tend to assume that the loss or damage to our garden furniture is covered under our home insurance.
Policies vary and include exclusions and limits, so know what you’ve got and what you’ve not. But most importantly be proactive. Follow Lazy Susan's Garden Furniture security tips and you can keep it safe!