Neighbourhood watch sponsor the Co-op Insurance has revealed green fingered thieves steal garden equipment worth £517m.

As the barometer starts to rise, research from the Co-op Insurance has revealed that more than 2.5 million households in the UK – over half (66%) – have been the victim of green fingered thieves in their gardens at least once.*

Nowadays, it’s not just a few stems of your prized roses that may be lifted from your garden, digging up entire garden plants, such as shrubs, trees, hanging baskets and even turf top the list of most sought after items, as a quarter (25%) of households admit to having these stolen, followed by garden machinery (18%), garden furniture and pots (16%), and even Chimeneas (7%) and Koi Carp (4%).

Top 10 garden items at risk of being stolen

  1. Plants, shrubs, trees, hanging baskets, turf 25%
  2. Garden Machinery, such as lawn mowers, strimmer’s and hedge cutters 18%
  3. Garden furniture 16%
  4. Pots 16%
  5. Children’s toys, such as playhouses, slides, swings, battery operated cars 14%
  6. Sculptures 8%
  7. Barbecue 8%
  8. Chimenea 7%
  9. Sports equipment, such as goals, golf clubs, cricket set, fishing rod 7%
  10. Koi Carp 4%

With people investing more time and money in their outdoor spaces, it’s not surprising to see that since 2011 the average cost associated with a garden theft has risen by almost half (48%). According to Co-op claims data the average total claim now stands at £208, putting a total of £517m worth of garden items at risk.**

Despite this, over three quarters (77%) of adults didn’t claim for the items on their home insurance, whilst (5%) had no home insurance in place.

As The Royal Horticultural Society warns that generation rent are neglecting their gardens, it seems they are also neglecting their home and garden’s security measures, as Co-op research also reveals that homeowners are more likely to take extra security measures, than those who rent accommodation. Over a quarter (26%) of renters admit to neglecting the security of the garden in their homes, by having no security measures in place at all, in comparison to (18%) of homeowners.

Jim Maddan OBE, Chair of Neighbourhood Watch, said: “We want people to enjoy their summer without becoming a victim of garden theft. After a day in the garden it’s important to make sure all your valuable items are put away again and any sheds and garages are properly secured with a heavy duty padlock.

“Make sure you lock your garden gates too – particularly your side gates – as we know that thieves will always go for the easiest option when looking to steal and much prefer an unlocked gate.”

Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at The Co-op, said: “As summer approaches, now is the perfect time to spruce up your garden and clean off the outdoor furniture ready for enjoying the sun. However, relaxing days shouldn’t lead to lax security. Unfortunately garden items are desirable to thieves so make sure that things are locked away or taken inside when you aren’t in the garden. Also don’t leave items outside such as bikes which could entice thieves or items, such as ladders, which could assist a thief in entering your property.

“Nowadays, the garden is increasingly becoming an extension of the home. As people expand their living space outdoors, they are undoubtedly spending more on their gardens however many probably don’t consider just how much they are spending and we’d advise them to update their insurer about their al-fresco purchases.”

Analysing insurance claim stats from 20011 to 2015, July and August see a peak for such thefts which is almost twice as likely to happen (45%) than the month of February.

The Co-op Insurance offers the following top tips for protecting your garden against crime:

  • Check your insurance: Check you have adequate insurance cover and make sure you are clear on what is covered. Most household policies will be covered up to a certain amount, but insurers may specify that items should be locked in a shed, garage or brought into the house. If you have left your items unlocked and outside, insurers may refuse to pay out.
  • Don’t advertise to thieves: Lighter evenings mean all your expensive power tools, bikes and children’s toys are more visible to opportunist criminals, be sure to keep any valuable items out of sight and wherever possible, keep them locked away or indoors.
  • Mark your valuable items: If possible, tag items, such as patio furniture, BBQ’s, expensive pots and garden machinery with your postcode using invisible ink. In addition to this take photos of your valuable items should an insurer want proof of ownership.
  • Remove climbable items: One of the most common pitfalls is making climbable items accessible to thieves, items such as ladders and wheelie bins can be used by burglars to get into a home, therefore it is important to store them where they can’t be seen or reached by thieves, or lock them up so they can’t be moved.
  • Lock up your valuables: Secure sheds with a padlock attached to a strong hasp and staple. Ensure shed hinges are secured with coach bolts. Always ensure gates, garages and outbuildings remain bolted with a secure lock. If you have a tree or plant that is valuable, invest in an automatic alarm that wakes you, should anyone try to remove it.

*Research conducted by One Poll with 2,000 UK adults across the UK on behalf of The Co-operative Insurance, 2016.

  • 15% of those surveyed said they had had items stolen from their garden
  • 66% of those surveyed said they had had items stolen from their garden at least once
  • There are 27 million households in the UK according to ONS data 2015.
  • According to research from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2014, 93% of people have a garden or grow plants -
  • 93%x 27million = 25,110,000 households with gardens
  • 15% of 25,110,000 = 3,766,500 thefts
  • 66% of 3,766,500 = 2,485,890
  • **Average claim value for thefts from gardens excluding outer buildings i.e sheds, using home insurance claims data from the Co-op is £208
  • 2,485,890 x £208 = £517,065,120