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UK crime data has highlighted that over 22,500 instances of garden and shed burglary are being reported annually. This equates to around 60 shed or garage break-ins every day and recent reports suggest that the frequency has been increasing during the coronavirus lockdown. The metropolitan police tell us that bikes, mowers, sports equipment, power tools and garden tools are the top items commonly stolen from sheds.
Our police forces have warned that people don’t tend to give their outbuildings, sheds and garages the same attention to security that they give to their homes. Yet sheds and garages are commonly used to store valuable, expensive property and burglars, knowing this, will generally try these easy targets first.
To appreciate the potential impact of having your shed, garage or outbuilding raided and emptied by burglars it’s a good idea to create an inventory of the contents and then sum up what it will cost you to replace everything, if it was all stolen. Knowing exactly what’s stored in your shed, garage or outbuilding will also be vitally important if you ever need to report theft to the police and your insurance company.
You may be storing a number of expensive family bicycles along with some garden tools such as a lawn mower, leaf blower, pressure washer, hedge trimmer and more. You may also be storing your barbecue and valuable garden furniture and you may have additional, valuable power tools and workshop tools in there. It’s worthwhile compiling a list, making note of any distinguishing features, noting the makes and serial numbers and keeping this inventory up to date.
It has previously been estimated that the average British homeowner stores around £2,500 worth of equipment in their sheds or outbuildings. You should always make certain that your home contents insurance adequately covers everything you are storing outside of your home.
As noted, the most commonly stolen items from sheds and outbuildings are… bicycles. Thieves know there is a buoyant UK black market for stolen bikes and they can often make more money by stripping them down and to sell as parts.
What’s more, experienced bike thieves know that many people can’t secure their valuable bicycles inside their homes, so they are forced to use external bike sheds for storage. And bike sheds will often house multiple valuable bikes making them an even greater attraction for thieves. They will sometimes follow cyclists to find out exactly where and how they are storing their bikes so it’s important to ensure bike shed security is as rigorous as possible.
Here are some practical recommendations which will significantly improve your shed, garage or outbuilding security.
Most burglaries are opportunist crimes wherein a thief has spotted something worth stealing and either acted on it immediately, or come back later, after dark, to steal what they have spotted. They may, for example, have looked over your garden fence or wall and noted that you have an expensive ride-on lawn mower. Or they may have seen you and your family returning home from a family cycle trip, riding a bunch of expensive bikes.
If a criminal can’t easily see into your garden or where you are storing your valuables they are far less likely to attempt a burglary. It therefore makes sense to pay attention to your perimeter security to make certain that intruders can’t easily enter your property without being seen. You should also make certain that all entrances and gateways are kept closed and ideally locked.
While it’s not always possible to hide the fact that you have a shed, obscuring any windows in your outbuildings so that what’s stored inside can’t be seen will help prevent theft. This is particularly important if your outbuilding or shed windows can be seen from the road.
The location of your shed is a very important consideration. If, for example, you are lucky enough to have a large garden and you build your garden shed as far away from your house as possible this will make it a far more appealing and viable target for criminals than if the shed was located close to your house.
Bicycle storage sheds should always be situated as close to the house as possible to deter would be thieves. Try to locate your shed or outbuilding where it can be easily seen and accessed from your house while being hidden from people in the street.
Sheds tend to be constructed from various materials including bricks and/or blocks, metal or wood with some plastics also being used. By far the most common, traditional form of garden shed is the wood or timber shed. These sheds are low cost, easy to construct, relatively simple to maintain and readily customisable. They are widely available in a vast range of sizes and designs.
Key disadvantages of traditional wooden sheds are that they are vulnerable to both harsh weather and attack from burglars. Weather protection can be achieved using appropriate wood treatment or painting but protection from experienced burglars takes a bit more consideration.
For example, one of the common techniques used by experienced thieves to gain access to standard wooden sheds is to lift the roof. They know exactly how low cost wooden sheds are constructed and exploit the weakness that typically exists in the roof attachment to the shed frame. It’s therefore vitally important to make certain that the shed roof is securely screwed or bolted to the shed frame and if necessary, the basic shed frame is strengthened.
Doors and windows are always the first points of entry that would-be thieves attempt to use. They will always check to see if you have failed to lock the door or secure the windows. It therefore makes sense to pay special attention to beefing up door and window security around your outbuildings.
Remember that your shed or garage security is only ever as good as the weakest element in your security system. It therefore makes sense to make certain that everything that contributes to the security of your outbuildings is as tough as possible.
Shed and outbuilding doors are commonly secured using a hasp and staple along with a matching padlock. Most sheds will be supplied with a basic hasp and staple but this will often be a low cost component that doesn’t provide much of a challenge for experienced thieves. Replacing this assembly with a high quality hasp and staple along with a matching, high security closed shackle padlock will significantly enhance your shed door security.
But an important aspect of shed door security that’s often overlooked is the hinges. We have previously provided a detailed guide in how to improve shed hinge security as we know this is an important aspect of outbuilding security.
As we have noted, the shed door hinges typically supplied with timber sheds are manufactured from thin metal and attached using standard fixings. Investing in heavier duty hinges and replacing standard screws with security screws will further improve your shed door security. Alternatively, replacing shed door hinge screws with through-bolts will significantly strengthen door security. But it’s also important to look at strengthening the wooden door frame and shed structure where necessary.
Shed door security can be strengthened even further by installing a steel shed locking bar across the door. These security bars, manufactured from 10mm thick solid steel, are easily installed by anyone with basic DIY skills and will immediately deter anyone from even attempting to break into your shed via the door.
We’ve already mentioned the recommendation to obscure your shed or outbuilding windows so that what’s inside cannot be easily seen. Shed and outbuilding window security can be further improved by installing window security bars which, like the shed door locking bar, can be easily and cost effectively installed by anyone with basic DIY skills and tools.
Attaching valuables to immovable anchor points makes them very difficult to steal. Even if you are hiding your valuable bicycles, garden equipment and tools in a locked shed or garage, attaching these valuable items to an immovable, heavy duty anchor inside your outbuilding, will further deter and prevent theft.
Locking valuable items such as bikes, lawnmowers and tools together and attaching them to an immovable anchor point (or multiple anchor points) using a high security chain and padlock will make it extremely time consuming and very difficult for a thief to steal them.
Our Shed Shackle Security Anchor Point is Sold Secure and Secured by Design certified. The adjustable design enables the anchor to be attached to the strongest part of your shed using security fastenings. Feedback from people who have installed the Shed Shackle Anchor Point reports that they have not experienced theft since installation.
Another excellent shed security product is our Shed Anchor which can be used as either a ground anchor or wall anchor. This is a cost effective, heavy duty anchor point made from hardened steel with concealed fixings. Absolutely ideal for securely attaching your valuable bikes, leisure equipment and those valuable tools that you are storing in your shed.
Shed alarms serve two basic functions. When triggered, they will generally scare off would-be thieves and they will also let you know that your shed is attracting unwanted attention. PIR (passive infrared sensor) shed alarms, triggered by motion, are low cost, easily installed and highly effective.
Thieves like to operate unseen and often in darkness. Installing motion triggered lighting around your shed or outbuildings will frighten off all but the most determined would-be burglars.
Security camera systems have become increasingly affordable. Motion triggered security cameras along with some warning signs will be enough to deter many opportunist criminals. Even dummy CCTV cameras with warning signs are highly effective.
Opportunist thieves will often use whatever is immediately at hand to commit their crimes. Leaving ladders and garden tools, such as spades and hoes, outside will potentially provide them with what they need. Ideally, these items should be securely locked away and ladders should be attached to your immovable anchor point.
Property marking and labelling serves two purposes. Visible security marking will potentially deter a thief if they can see the marks and labelling will help return items to their rightful owners if stolen and recovered.
Security marking can be achieved using a variety of techniques including permanent UV pens, chemical etching, synthetic DNA, microdots and transponder tagging. Valuable items such as bikes and scooters should be security tagged using a multi-layered security identification and labelling system that includes visible warning signs to deter thieves as well as covert identification tags that enable stolen items to be identified. Security marking kits are available providing everything you need to label and protect your valuables.
Victims of shed or outbuilding theft have sometimes suffered further when they discover that their home contents insurance didn’t cover everything they’ve lost. It’s important to be certain that what you are storing in your shed or outbuilding is included in your insurance cover.
Bicycles, for example, can be treated separately for insurance purposes. And it’s particularly important to let your insurance company know if your bikes are worth more than about £350.
It’s also important to be aware that there are some items which should never be stored in outbuildings and are unlikely to be covered by your insurance policy. These include important documents, such as passports, money, gold and jewellery.
Having compiled your inventory of what you are storing in your shed, garage or outbuilding it would be worthwhile contacting your insurance company and verifying that everything on your list is covered.
As noted, police forces throughout the UK are issuing warnings due to apparent escalation in burglaries from sheds and outbuildings. The following excerpt from Yorkshire shows just a handful of these crimes recorded in just one day.
If you have any questions regarding shed, garage and outbuilding security remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.
This message was added on Thursday 23rd April 2020
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500