Garden crime increases again in 2012

 Rise in UK garden crime

Thefts from garages, sheds and gardens increased by ten per cent in the year to April and are up almost 20 per cent compared with five years ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

Not surprisingly, police are warning households with gardens and outhouses to be extra vigilant and lock away any valuable items at night. Insurance giant Aviva says that power tools accounted for 42 per cent of garden thefts last year. A further 39 per cent was for hand tools with the remainder for items such as lawn mowers, barbecue sets and ladders. Aviva says thefts from gardens and sheds shoot up by 25 per cent in the spring and summer. 

At risk: Barbecues, but also garden ornaments and metal tables and chairs are not safe since the value of scrap metal has soared

Peter Ketteringham, household underwriting manager at Aviva, says: "The long summer evenings mean that the goodies in your garden are more visible to opportunistic thieves, so try not to advertise what you've got". 

"Clear up your garden every evening, including patio furniture and expensive barbecues if they are on show, and make sure that sheds and garages are locked or padlocked."

Even garden ornaments and metal tables and chairs are not safe since the value of scrap metal has soared. Sculptures are being stolen from public parks and thieves are even uprooting lamp posts for aluminium and electric cable. 

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, says householders should be careful to check what level of cover their home contents policy will give them for items kept in the garden. 

He advises marking items such as patio furniture with the postcode and keeping photos of valuable items such as power tools, patio heaters and large gas barbecue sets in case an insurer wants proof of ownership. 

Joining a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme can also prove to be a deterrent to burglars and thieves, adds Foulds. Insurer esure covers claims up to £2,000 for contents in the garden and up to £2,000 for items in locked outbuildings, sheds and garages. 

Aviva's household policies provide cover for theft of contents in locked outbuildings, garages and sheds up to £2,500 this would include lawn mowers, bikes and golf clubs. Cover up to £500 is available for garden contents such as plants, pots, ornaments and patio furniture. The cover is for theft, fire, extreme weather events and malicious damage. 

The Halifax Home Solutions policy covers theft of contents from locked outbuildings up to £5,000 and contents left out in the garden, such as patio furniture, up to £1,000. 

The Halifax Home Options insurance covers theft of items from outbuildings up to £2,000 and garden items up to £1,000.

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