General Insurance Article - Five top tips to keep your garden safe this summer

There were almost 600,000 thefts from ‘outside a dwelling’ in the UK in 2018 – that’s an average of around 11,500 a week
9 in 10 household thefts are from outside the home

 SunLife General Insurance director Simon Stanney offers his top five tips to keep your garden secure

 The average UK garden is no longer just home to a few flower pots and a hosepipe. These days, gardens have thousands of pounds worth of contents, including garden furniture, plants and ornaments, BBQs, trampolines and even hot tubs.

 Figures from the ONS reveal that there were 595,000 thefts ‘outside a dwelling’ last year - an increase of 23% on 2017’s figure of 483,000. That means that on average, there are around 11,500 thefts from outside homes every week 

 Gardens are most at risk during the summer months, when many of us leave things like lawnmowers, trampolines, paddling pools, tools and other items out rather than storing them away,

 So, what can you do to ensure your garden is not victim to theft this summer?

 Below, Simon Stanney, General Insurance Director at SunLife offers his top five tips on how you can protect your garden and its contents from theft this summer.

 Lock up and put things away
 If you are out all day in the garden – perhaps gardening, doing odd jobs, getting out the paddling pool or maybe having a BBQ in the evening – it is tempting to leave tools, furniture, bikes and other valuables out, either for use again the next day, or while you pop out for more supplies.

 But leaving them out makes them prime targets for thieves, so it is important that you put these items away when you are not around and at night and that you lock any sheds, garages and gates. It is a sad fact that thieves use tools they find in gardens to break into houses, so don’t make it easy for them.

 Secure items to the ground, fences and walls
 While ideally, all valuable items would be put away to prevent theft, sometimes this is simply not practical, so for bigger items which cannot easily be stored, think about anchoring them to the ground.

 Garden furniture thefts account the majority of garden thefts so prevent it by using wall or floor anchors. It is also a good idea to secure things like trampolines, water features, bird tables, and valuable plants, hanging brackets and potted trees and shrubs. By anchoring them with wires, or setting in concrete, it makes it almost impossible for thieves to take them away.

 Covers for furniture also act as a deterrent (especially if they are anchored to the ground) and also protects furniture so can be really useful.

 You should also look at putting your rubbish bins and recycling boxes away or chaining them up – they do get pinched, plus thieves also sometimes move them to use as a ‘step up’ to get over fences and walls, so it is best to ensure they are not accessible.

 Get lights
 One of the biggest deterrents for thieves is motion sensitive security lights; they draw attention to your home and put thieves off from targeting it. Making it ‘noisy’ to enter your garden can also discourage would-be thieves, so putting gravel down can help. Having high fences, walls and hedges to make entering your garden more difficult is also a good idea.

 Don’t make it obvious when you go away
 If you are away, try and get someone to pop over every now and again to water your plants, put your rubbish out on the right day - perhaps even mow your lawn – so it will look like you are still around. Maybe see if someone will park their car on your drive at night too. Think about putting lights on a timer and don’t post pictures of your holiday on social media while you’re still away!

 Leave a fingerprint
 It is a good idea to mark all your valuables – not only does it make them identifiable which can help with the recovery if they are stolen, but if you make it clear to thieves that your items are marked, they are less appealing and potentially less valuable so not worth taking.

 All customers who buy SunLife home insurance from us directly will receive a FREE SunLife Fingerprint forensic property marking kit, complete with warning labels for their windows to deter burglars. The kit contains a unique DNA solution which you can apply to your belongings. It is virtually invisible to the eye but, if your goods are lost or stolen, just a tiny trace will enable police to identify and return them to you.

 Simon concludes: “All these measures should be a good deterrent, but nothing can keep your home and garden completely safe, so it is imperative you make sure you have good, comprehensive cover in place.

 “Theft from gardens, sheds and other outbuildings are generally covered as standard by most home contents insurance policies, but the amount of cover varies. Most insurers also have a ‘single item limit’ so if you want cover for specific valuable items, you should let your home insurance provider know.” 

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