The beginning of spring/summer will always see homeowners heading to their outdoor space to relax on their new Lazy Susan (I hope) garden furniture set. However, with the lighter nights being ushered in and some of this great summer weather we've seen over the Easter weekend, recent study by insurance company Aviva has highlighted a stark warning.
They've found that thefts from such property locations as garages, gardens and garden sheds soars by up to 25% once British Summer Time starts. The research also found that garden tools such as electric drills, jigsaws, sanders etc were among the most popular items for thieves during 2010.
As a result, those with a nice set of stylish garden furniture might want to follow some of Lazy Susan's tips to keep their prized possessions safe. We would urge all homeowners to make sure their sheds and garden room etc are properly secured and remember to clear up every evening so there's nothing left lying around that could tempt opportunist thieves.
The price comparison site, Confused.com, have recently warned green-fingered homeowners that they should ensure their home insurance is set to cover valuable outdoor items such as garden furniture and accessories, anything left in garden sheds etc.
Simon Lamble, the website's product director, had the following to say:
"Garden shed burglaries increase significantly during the summer months due to outhouses not being properly secured. It is imperative that, when taking out home insurance policies, homeowners consider the contents of their sheds, garages and any other outbuildings, and insure them accordingly. The average garden equipment costs £800 and it pays to have significant cover. Gardens offer rich pickings these days, with bikes, lawnmowers, garden tools, garden furniture and children’s toys all targeted by thieves, and the average haul totalling around £900."
So follow this advice and this summer we can beat the thieves at their own game...
Improve your garden security
There are some simple steps you can take to protect your garden, such as putting away your gardening tools, children's toys etc at the end of the day, locking your sheds and replacing any old rusty padlocks.
Always close gates and repair any damaged fencing, and if you have bulky items which cannot be locked away, such as a large gas BBQ or garden furniture, then do what you can to hide or cover them.
Invest in some ground anchors to secure your garden furniture and ornaments to the ground and consider taking photographs of expensive items such as potted plans, ornaments and furniture so you can identify them if stolen. Its also a good idea to write your postcode on these items with an ultra-violet pen
Stay one step ahead of theives
Loose items such as ladders and wheelie bins are the perfect 'tools' for opportunist thieves to use in order to gain access into your home, so always make sure you lock them away or place them out of sight.
Plant prickly plants such as holly and roses under window sills, install strong security lighting, and remember that a gravel path can make for a good thief deterrent because of the 'crunchy' noise it makes when walked on.
Check your insurance policy
It’s easy to splash the cash on your garden (a recent trip to a local garden centre just left the Lazy Susan coffers £400 lighter!), but if you’ve spent a lot of money, then you really need to check your home insurance to ensure you have adequate cover in place.
Patios, outbuildings, sheds, fences, walls and gates are normally covered for damage under your buildings policy, as they're classified as fixtures and fittings. However, moveable objects such as garden furniture and equipment count under your contents insurance.
Given that gardens are more prone to theft and damage during the summer, now is a good time to review your cover and ensure you’ve not undervalued your contents.
Insurance policies will provide cover for theft of contents from outbuildings, garages and garden sheds, and this could be up to a limit of around £2,500. Contents in your garden will also be covered, and this could be up to a limit of around the £500 mark.
However, the level of garden cover offered by contents policies tend to vary considerably from insurance company to insurance company. You need to make sure that you check this, as some have very different exclusions and limits.
Policies will generally only cover you if items are locked securely in a shed, and some insurers will require you to inform them in advance of any particularly valuable items. Also note that bikes may not be included, and that you may have to pay an additional premium for cycle cover.
And if you've got a garden room, make sure its covered, and that it doesn't push your house policy over its limit. If need be take out a separate policy. In our experience they're often used as an office or hobby space, and that generally means money.
Take the necessary precautions
The most effective way of keeping thieves out of your garden is to make life as difficult as possible for them.
Reduce the number of places they can hide by keeping hedges and shrubs low at the front of the house, and install security lighting in areas that are cast deep into shadow at night. Ladders and tools should never be left lying around, as not only do they make rich pickings for opportunist thieves, but can be used to break into your home, garage or shed.
Construct as much fencing and lockable gates as possible around your garden and that way you'll at least make it more difficult for thieves to gain access. Secure any large pieces of garden furniture or accessories.