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Garden security advice from the UK police force

Crime prevention - stop garden thieves

Your garden, as well as your house, has valued possessions that thieves would love to steal. It also has equipment that could help them break into your house.

Most burglars are lazy. They look for easy ways of getting into a house or garden. By taking a few simple precautions you can reduce the risk of being burgled and make your house and garden more secure.

Keep your garden secure

Natural protection:

One of the best ways to keep thieves out is to use nature's own defence mechanisms to stop intruders. A barrier of prickly hedge may be all the protection you need around your property. Here are some suggestions for plants to use.

We have tried to identify the plants mentioned by their correct botanical name, but we cannot guarantee that the plant you buy will not grow into a small, fragrant flowering shrub with no more thorns than a daisy.

Creeping Juniper: Juniperis horizontalis 'Wiltonii' - Also known as 'Blue Rug'because it has long branches and its prostrate shape forms a flattened bluecarpet. It has a thorny stem and foliage.

Blue Spruce: Picea pungens 'Globosa' - Rigid branches, irregular denseblue, spiky needles. Height 1-1.25m x 75cm - 1 m. Slow growing. Moist rich soil.

Common Holly: Ilex agulfolium - Large evergreen shrub, dark green spiked leaves. Large red berries on female plants only. Any well drained soil. Plant with garden compost and bone-meal.

Giant Rhubarb: (Gunnera manicata)- Giant rhubarb-like leaves on erectstems, abrasive foliage. Can grow up to 2.5m high. Plant by water-side foreffect.

Golden Bamboo: Phyllostachys aurea- Very graceful, forming thick clumps ofup to 3.5m high. Less invasive than other bamboos. Hardy. Young shoots inspring.

Chinese Jujube: Zizyphus sativa - Medium sized tree with very spinypendulous branches. Leaves glossy bright green. Bears clusters of small yellow flowers.

Firethorn: Pyracantha 'Orange Glow' - Flowers white in June, withbright orange-red berries. Thorny stem. Height 10-15ft. Suitable for north oreast-facing wall or as impenetrable hedging.

Shrub Rose: Rosa 'Frau Dagmar Hastrup' - Excellent ground cover, pale pink flowers, very thorny stem. May to September. Plant with garden compost and bone-meal.

Pencil Christmas Tree: Picea abias 'Cupressina' - Medium-sized tree of columnar habit, with ascending spiky branches. Attractive form with dense growth. Avoid dry chalky soils.

Juniper: Juniperus x media 'Old Gold' - Evergreen. Golden-tipped foliage. Prickly foliage. Height 2ft. Spread 6ft. Low growing. Excellent ground cover. 

Purple Berberis: Berberis thunbergil 'Atropurpurea'- Rich purple foliage.Thorny stem. Medium-sized deciduous. Any soil sunny position.

Mountain Pine: Pinus mugo 'Mughus'- A very hardy, large shrub or small tree, with long sharp needles, of dense, bushy habit. Leaves in pairs, 3 - 4cmlong, rigid and curved, dark green, cone.

Blue Pine: Picea pungens 'Hoopsii'- Small to medium-sized tree, spiky needled stem, densely conical habit, with vividly glaucous blue leaves. Likes moist, rich soil.

Oleaster: Elaeagnus angustifolia - Small deciduous tree, about 4.5 to6 m (15 to 20 feet) high. Smooth, dark brown branches that often bear spines and narrow, light green leaves that are silvery on the undersides. The flowers are small, greenish, fragrant, and silvery-scaled on the outside, as are theedible, olive-shaped, yellowish fruits, which are sweet but mealy. Hardy, wind resistant, tolerant of poor, dry sites, and thus useful in windbreak hedges.

Blackthorn: Prunus spinosa - Also called Sloe; spiny shrub. Usually grows less than 3.6 metres (12 feet) tall and has numerous, small leaves. Its dense growth makes it suitable for hedges. White flowers. Bluish-black fruit is used to flavour sloe gin.

Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry: Ribes speciosum - Fruit bush, spiny, produces greenish to greenish-pink flowers in clusters of two or three. Extremely hardy, thrive in moist, heavy clay soil in cool, humid climate.

In addition, the following thorny plants can also be considered:

Aralia, Chaenomeles, Colletia, Crataegus (including hawthorn/may), Hippophae (sea buckthorn), Maclura, Mahonia, Oplopanax,Osmanthus, Poncirus, Rhamnus, Rosa (climbing & shrub roses), Rubus(bramble), Smilax

Although they will take some time to grow, the end result justifies the effort. They should deter even the most determined burglar.

Hedges and shrubs in the front garden should be kept to a height of no more than 3 feet in order to avoid giving a burglar a screen behind which he can conceal himself.

For further information and advice please contact the crime prevention officer at your local police station.

What you can do to protect your garden

  • Put away all tools and equipment and ensure that all outside sheds and store cupboards are securely locked when not in use.
  • Bring the tools inside if you do not have a garden shed or outbuilding.
  • Use plant protection- such as thorny shrubs.
  • Install outside security lighting which comes on automatically.
  • If you have a burglar alarm, why not extend it to cover outbuildings and sheds?
  • Photograph valuable garden plants or ornaments.
  • Mark your property with your postcode.This makes stolen property easier to trace and it can be positively identified as yours.
  • Check that your household insurance policy covers theft from your garden and outbuildings.
  • If you have a local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, why not join?

If you have a burglary, don't move or touch anything, just ring 999 and if you have any information about a burglar or burglary and don't want to give your name, ring Crime stoppers, anytime day or night, on 0800555 111.

Taken from the blog site www.shedforce.com