When I spoke to a colleague of mine about writing an article on robbings in the garden he told me he had seen some himself, but moreso around the winter period. In hindsight I realise this may not be the most amusing opening line for an article but whilst garden theft achieves little or no publicity in the United States, mainly due to the fact that the US has no national crime watch for this type of theft, in the UK there are on average eighteen thousand reports [that are reported] of garden theft every year with British insurance companies adding further that one in seven gardens is burglarised every summer and that twenty five per cent of UK residents have suffered some form of theft from their gardens or outbuildings. The most popular item on the grab and run list is the hanging basket. This doesn’t sound like a lot and possibly quite a frivolous matter but at thirty euro on average per hanging basket [or an average price per theft reported] this equates to a minimum half a million euro per annum.
In Ireland it seems, somewhat similar to the states ‘we don’t keep any statistics for specifically garden theft – it’s all simply reported as theft’ according to the Garda Public Relations Office.
I performed my own research to find a list of sorts to give me an insight into the criminal mind and the damage they leave behind. Although quiet amusing, possibly, I had assumed that the results would be your usual plants and the garden shed style theft. It seems these garden invaders have gone to another level. In no particular order are the ‘offences’ list.
- gentlemen robbing tropical plants
- solar lights and clothes including the washing line
- three garden gnomes, a fake stone sheep and a cow
- tree stakes – but not the tree
- parents throwing their child into the back garden to get the ball
- cuttings/clippings and flowers that would look good at home
- wheely bins set on fire
- courting couples
The point is that nothing it seems is safe. So again through my own personal research I’ve come up with some top tips for the crime crackers.
- Buy good locks for the garage or shed and even within the shed hide the more expensive pieces under the old junk. Bolt up at all times. Out of sight is out mind.
- Wire the shed to the alarm or security system and fit sensor lights to both shed and home front and rear
- Check your insurance details, listings and small print
- Fit and secure gates where possible
- Secure ornaments or sentimental valuables to the ground as best as possible. Make sure you want them to stay there first.
- Gravel paths and driveways are a noise making deterent.
- Thorny plants are great in selected areas
- Ensure your privacy doesn’t leave a place for the green – fingered robbers to hide in.
Whatever your lifestyle or the area you live in the general rule for garden design is that the front of house is for the neighbours to walk by whilst the rear of grounds is for the family. Any concerns you might have about security should be discussed with your garden/ landscape designer at the inception of your design. This will allow for security features to not only fit gently into your design but also into your landscape design budget.