Reduce the chance of garden crime

Crime Prevention Advice

Garden related crime

With the approach of longer
daylight hours and hopefully warmer weather, now
is the time to consider the possible crime
problems which may appear with the Spring.

For crime reduction practitioners it is often
the case that they must remind local residents to
take some responsibility for their gardens and
sheds.

With lighter nights and the desire to be
outside more, people start to enjoy new activities
without thought for any crime opportunities they
are creating. Crime reduction work aimed at both
the target and the offender could help to reduce
the usual seasonal increase in these crimes.

Identifying hot spot areas or particular methods of
break-in may allow an area-wide solution to be devised,
or at least targeted displays in local libraries or
community centres. It may be possible to identify
specific design problems such as a particular type of
garage door � this requires good, accurate record
keeping if it is to be identified early on.

As visits to garden centres and DIY stores increase,
displays at these venues may have some effect, together
with leaflets and presentations to relevant clubs and
organisations. Many crime reduction groups have worked
with garden centres to produce leaflets with basic
advice and details of recommended shrubs to make gardens
less inviting to an intruder.  If you invest time
in these activities, are there any mechanisms you can
use to test the level of response?

Neighbourhood Watch has a role to play in reminding
its members and local residents that they are putting
themselves at risk if they do not secure their sheds as
well as their homes. Neighbourhood Watch and other
community groups may also be able to help the less able
members of the community to clear or maintain their
gardens and so avoid creating hiding places for thieves.
Landlords may also have a role here.

Cycle theft is prevalent everywhere not just from
sheds and garages. Providing secure cycle parking
together with campaigns to remind cyclists not to leave
bikes unlocked and to mark their cycles may have an
impact on crime figures.

Sold Secure, which assesses security products, has
introduced a specification SS 301 – Specification for
Mechanical Security Systems for Domestic Buildings
.
This specification is a �catch all� document
designed to allow certification of good quality domestic
security products such as shed security and garage door
locks. Originally focusing on vehicle security products,
Sold Secure now covers cycles, caravans, padlocks and
domestic security to give consumers access to products
that have been tested.

So, what advice can you give to people? 

As individuals, are they giving potential thieves the
opportunity they need to steal from them? Ask the
following questions and encourage people to take action
before they become victims of thieves. Whilst much of
this is common sense, it is often necessary to remind
people that simple things can make all the difference.

The Garden

If someone can get into your garden easily without
attracting suspicion, it gives them more time to steal
from you. 

  • Are your fences and gates in good repair? 

  • Do you have security lighting?
    Low energy dusk to dawn lighting is environmentally
    friendly and cheap to run. (9 watt lighting to
    the front and 11 or 16 watt lighting for the side
    and rear).

  • Do you leave things outside all year (ornaments,
    furniture, tools) which could be removed easily or
    used to break into your house? 
    Secure them in position or fill with heavy gravel to
    prevent easy carrying. 

  • Are there overgrown areas where someone could
    hide? 
    Cut it back so you can see what’s going on. Gravel
    on paths and driveways can alert you to someone
    approaching so intruders will not be so keen.
    Prickly plants and trellis can provide extra
    protection from the intruder.

Sheds and outbuildings

Without realising it, you probably have a lot of
valuable property in your sheds and outbuildings and you
don�t pay as much attention to security as you should.
Power tools, lawnmowers, cycles, golf clubs etc are all
expensive to replace and attractive to thieves.

  • Has your shed survived the winter without damage
    which could help a thief gain access?
    If not, don�t delay � FIX it now!

  • Are your doors secure? 
    Shed doors are notoriously easy to get into so
    strengthen the door and frame if you can. Outside
    door hinges should be secured with coach bolts or
    non-return screws. Use strong padbars and close
    shackle padlocks. Up and over garage doors can be
    secured by putting padlocks through the inside
    runners or by fitting padlocks with a hasp and
    staple on either side of the door. There are other
    effective devices available which stop the door
    being lifted. 5 lever mortice locks are the best on
    normal solid doors.

  • Are windows secure? Is the glass cracked but you
    haven�t got round to replacing it? You could use
    Perspex or polycarbonate sheet if well fixed. Use a
    window lock on opening windows and a strong grille
    or heavy wire mesh. Consider using net curtains to
    deter casual viewing.

  • Use an alarm � battery operated alarms may act
    as a deterrent. If you have a house alarm, you could
    have it upgraded to include your shed or garage. If
    the garage is an integral part of your house, make
    sure the alarm conforms to BS 4737.

  • If the garage is linked to your house, is the
    connecting door as well protected as the main door?
    If not, upgrade the door security now!

Property

Check what you keep in the shed. 

  • Does your insurance cover the shed and garage and
    all the equipment you store there? 

  • Is everything post-coded so that you could
    identify it if it was stolen? 
    Most items can be post-coded by a variety of methods
    (etching, branding, paint stencilling etc) and
    easily identifiable items will make them more
    difficult for a thief to dispose of and therefore
    less likely to take in the first place.

  • Do you have a note of serial numbers? Have you
    photographed any valuable items and put the photos
    somewhere safe?

  • Do you secure property within the shed? So that
    even if someone did break into it, they would not
    just be able to walk off with all your valuable
    items? 
    Chain cycles, mowers, ladders and tools to a strong
    anchor point such as metal rings fixed in concrete
    to the floor � use a close shackle padlock. 

  • As sheds are not designed for safe storage, would
    it be better to have a strong lockable box or cage
    inside your shed – preferably fixed to the floor?

  • Ask your neighbours to keep their eye on your
    shed as well as the house and do the same for them
    in return. If you�ve hidden your shed so it can�t
    be seen, cut down some foliage so you�re not
    providing cover for a thief.

  • When you�ve made your garden, shed or any
    outbuildings more secure, remember to lock things
    away every time. It only takes a minute to pick
    something up and walk off, so don�t be tempted to
    leave everything out while you go inside for a cup
    of tea. And NEVER leave cycles unlocked.

  • Further information about property
    marking
     

Last update: 3 March 2004

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