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Protecting your garden against thieves and vandals

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You've invested countless hours and a small fortune in making your garden the perfect outdoor space to suite your lifestyle

...so the last thing you need is some mindless intruder entering it and either wrecking it or stealing your precious plants and equipment!


GardenIn the UK, we spend over £4 billion each year on plants and flowers, garden tools and other garden accessories, so it's no surprise that over recent years, garden crime has increased significantly with up to 55% year on year growth.

Thieves know there are rich pickings to be had and it is estimated that garden theft costs British gardeners over £300 million each year – so your garden could be at risk!

And with the average cost of garden theft being around £500, if you're a victim, as well as the damage to your garden, your bank account will suffer as well.

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What are thieves stealing?

•  Exotic and specialist plants, trees and topiary
•  Pots, planters and hanging baskets
•  Elegant garden furniture
•  Fountains, water features, and fish such as Koi Carp
•  Garden tools, mowers and other equipment
•  ...there are even examples of whole lawns being rolled up and stolen!

 

So what can you do to protect your garden and it's contents?

Beefing up security at your perimeter

Your perimeter is your first line of defence against burglars, vandals and other unwelcome intruders. Here are some practical things you can do to beef up security at your boundary walls and fences;

For most homes, it is likely that you will want to treat the way you protect your front and side or rear gardens differently, especially where the side or rear garden is not easily visible from the street or where you've designed it to provide you with greater privacy.

Front gardens will ideally be designed so that walls, fences or plants do not obscure the front of your house from view. This will ensure that burglars, etc, can't sneak up and break into your home without the risk of being spotted from the street.

For your less visible gardens, beefing up security at your walls, gates and fences is easy and should be a priority for you;

Anti-climb products; can be fitted along the tops of walls, fences and gates to deter people (or animals) from climbing into your garden. Purpose designed products which can be used include various types of security wall and fence spikes, roller barriers and anti-climb paint. It should be noted however that some restrictions apply as to which products can be used in certain locations, so we would suggest that you check with a responsible supplier such as Insight Security, your local planning department, or your local police crime prevention officer, as to which type of product would be most suitable for use around your garden.

Gates; should be secured with a good lock, or a padlock and chain or hasp set, and to prevent cross braces on the gate being used as a climbing aid, fit a solid panel to the outside of the gate to prevent would be climbers from gaining a foothold.

Defensive plants; such as easy to grow, thorny shrubs like Pyracantha and Berberis are popular and can be planted against the inside of your garden walls or fences to provide an uncomfortable landing for intruders! Your local garden centre should be able to advise you on which plants are most suitable for use in your particular location.

Trellising; can be fitted along the top of walls and fences. These are fairly flimsy structures, but make climbing more difficult and a noisy activity. Their security value can be enhanced by allowing thorny trailing plants to grow along the trellis.
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Deterring and detecting intruders

Burglars and other intruders want to get in and out of properties quickly and without being detected (which can of course lead to being caught by the police). Here are some practical measures worth considering;

Eliminate concealed areas wherever possible, by keeping trees, shrubs and hedges, etc, well trimmed.

Install strategically positioned security lights which operate automatically when someone enters a predetermined sensor zone. There are many types of security light now available, but obviously you'll need one with an IP rating which shows it's suitable for outdoor use (ideally with a minimum rating of IP54, although IP65 or IP66 may be required for lights installed in more exposed locations).

The latest generation of LED (light emitting diode) lighting is energy efficient and as LED lamps are generally rated to provide up to 50,000 hours operation before failure (almost 6 years 24/7 use), replacing lamps should be a very infrequent activity!

Because they draw very little power, LED light units with a built-in solar panel and internal rechargeable battery are a practical option, which removes the need to wire them up to a mains electricity supply. As with all things however, you get what you pay for, so we would strongly suggest that you check out product reviews before you invest in any particular model, as in our experience, many of the cheaper units are poorly manufactured and incorporate inferior components, which can lead to early failure.

Consider using gravel paths or areas which intruders have to cross (you can't walk silently on gravel!), which will alert you to their presence. There are many types of decorative gravel and broken slate type products now available, which can make attractive features in your garden, ...but also consider their practicality for your own family, gravel is uncomfortable to walk on bare foot and is a killer for stiletto heels!

Outdoor mirrors can be used effectively to help you see around corners, or into other areas obscured from direct line of sight.

Mirrors can eliminate hiding places for intruders, as well as providing a simple low cost way of being able to monitor your children's safety when they're playing outside away from direct line of sight.

Install an outdoor Alarm System - sensor based alarm systems can be installed to provide early warning of intruders, but reliable systems are costly and as with any alarm system, you need to decide in advance, what you are going to do when an intruder is detected.

When investing in an outdoor alarm system, choosing a good system that is designed to minimise false alarms is essential. There are many things that can trigger sensors in outdoor locations, such as; animal movement, windborne debris like leaves flying about, trees or foliage moving in the breeze, direct sunlight or shadow falling on a sensor, etc, so using the right type or mix of sensors and careful positioning of them is crucial.

Remember, a system that constantly gives false alarms is a waste of time and your money, as an unreliable system will quickly fall into disuse. For a reliable outdoor alarm installation, you'll probably need a system which utilises costly, high end sensors and will need to have it professionally installed by a specialist.
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Protecting Garden Statuary, Ornaments and Planters

A simple way of securing pots, planters and some types of statuary or garden ornaments is to secure them to a land anchor.

A land anchor is a barbed device that is hammered into the ground, and which has a chain or steel cable attached to it, to which the pot, planter or statuary can be secured. Hanging baskets (another popular target for thieves) can be secured in place with a weatherproof padlock and chain or cable.
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Protecting tools and garden equipment

Garden tools and equipment can be locked away in a secure shed, outhouse or garage – but make sure these have a good lock, etc. and really are secure.

It's also a good idea to obscure the windows of places where goods are stored to prevent anyone from seeing what's stored inside – curtains, blinds, or simple whitewash on the inside of your windows are easy options.

Fitting Window Security Bars to the inside of your windows, such as the versatile "Adaptabar" Window Bars from Insight Security, is a great way to beef up the security of your sheds and outbuildings and will provide added protection for your stored items.

Particularly vulnerable (or costly items such as ride on mowers) can be secured to a ground or wall anchor with a robust padlock and chain.

Don't forget to lock away your low value items such as; spades, forks, trowels, etc. as well, as these types of item are often used by burglars to break into the house.

Using a property marking system or painting items in a distinctive colour can also deter thieves from stealing them, as they won't want to get caught with anything which is easily identifiable as belonging to someone else.

Items such as ladders, wheelie bins or anything else which can be used as a climbing aid for burglars or other intruders, should also be locked away or secured to a suitable wall or ground anchor.
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Marking your property to identify ownership

Police and security experts agree that marking your items is a theft deterrent in itself and will help the return of your goods to you should they be stolen and subsequently recovered.

Simple marking with a UV (Ultra Violet) marker pen may be suitable for; planters, plant pots, garden equipment and lots more. It is generally accepted that you should mark your items with your postcode followed by your house number. When using UV marking, you'll need to use a waterproof UV marker and you also need to bear in mind that UV marks fade when exposed to light, so may need to be renewed periodically (when exposed to bright light such as sunlight, a UV mark could fade away in 6-12 months). It is obviously best therefore to mark items in a place not exposed to bright light, i.e. on the underside of a pot or ornament.

For more expensive items, a better marking option would be one of the covert "DNA marking systems". These systems are weatherproof and are used to mark all sorts of items from garden statuary to industrial JCBs and heavy earth moving equipment.
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A few final thoughts;

-   Photograph things! – and mark them to identify ownership – this will help if you ever suffer a theft
    and need to describe the stolen items to the police or your insurers.

-   Check your insurance policies – many people have found that their household policy does not cover
    garden items – special policies are available to cover garden equipment, plants and other items


-   Join your Neighbourhood Watch scheme – it helps when people are looking out for each other


-   If you see or hear anything suspicious, call "Crime Stoppers", anytime day or night, on 0800 555 111
    ...or of course you can dial 999 if it's an emergency!

 

Need further information of advice?

Call Insight Security on 01273 475500

 or visit: www.insight-security.com

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This message was added on Sunday 13th July 2014

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