Garden Security – Regularly Stolen Garden Items

Garden Security

Regularly Stolen Garden Items

Garden Security - Regularly Stolen Garden Items Among the items that are regularly taken from gardens are potted trees (particularly bay, citrus and palms), hanging baskets, newly planted trees and specimen shrubs, newly laid turf, all types of garden furniture, all types of paving and York stone, fish, ornamental plant boxes, wooden barrels, and pond and swimming-pool pumps. Much of this property is stolen from front gardens in the dead of night, using vehicles; it will be sold on to dealers or at car boot sales within days, and sometimes even hours. Plants of all types account for about a quarter of the property stolen from gardens, so it’s worth investing a little time and a few pounds in securing them.

Statuary and Sculptures

Decorative urns, sculptures, water features and garden ornaments frequently go missing from domestic gardens, and sometimes their theft represents a loss of several thousands of pounds to the householder. Don’t think that the sheer size and weight of some of these items will stop them from being taken. Often they are stolen to order, and the thief will come with the right equipment and vehicle to remove them. This is so much easier if a statue or sculpture is well away from the house.

To gain some advantage over the thief, be careful not to unwittingly advertise the fact that you possess valuable garden statuary in gardening club newsletters or magazine articles. Ultimately, the security measures you decide to implement will be determined by the value of the item to be protected and the amount you are willing to spend. Here are some prevention techniques to consider:

  • Where possible, place the item in view of the house or road, so that any attempt to steal it is likely to be seen. You can increase this possibility by lighting it at night; very valuable items can be monitored by a CCTV camera with a recording facility.
  • Place the item within a cordon of soft ground or, if appropriate, in the middle of a pond. Using a black liner in the pond will give the impression that the water is deeper than it really is.
  • Anchor the item by sitting it over a spike protruding from a heavy base and securing it with some form of adhesive or mortar. Take expert advice before doing this, however, to ensure that you don’t damage or otherwise devalue your property.
  • Hold the item in position using one or more plant anchors (see below).
  • Some people have become so concerned about losing a rare statue that they have had an exact copy made and display that in the garden.
  • Install a wire-free detector that will activate an alarm in the house.
  • Seek further advice from the police and your insurer.
  • Permanently mark the item, photograph it from different angles and make a note of any identifying marks, such as areas of damage and chips.

Hanging Baskets

A cheap method of preventing the theft of hanging baskets or, at least, slowing the thief down, is to attach the baskets to their brackets with heavy-gauge wire. This is best done by looping the wire in and out of the basket, and then running it up one of the chains to the bracket, where it can be wound around a few times before running back down to the basket. For a little more money, use a plastic coated cable sold for locking cycles. Make sure you buy a long one and simply thread that through the basket, locking it to the bracket.

You can actually obtain lockable hanging baskets through the Internet, and from some garden centres and DIY stores. These incorporate a single, central hanging rod that key locks into a special wall bracket; others have a basket that sits on top of a bracket and is locked in place. Alternatively, you can buy a purpose made clamp that secures the hook of a traditional hanging basket to its bracket.

Trees, Shrubs and Containers

Any trees or shrubs that you have just planted in front of your house are the most vulnerable to theft, because they are clearly new, especially if they still have their labels hanging from them. If the plant is new, its roots would not have developed sufficiently to hold it into the ground. Fortunately, you can secure an expensive new plant with a device called a plant anchor. This comprises a high-tensile steel cable or chain attached to an anchoring device that is driven into the ground and is extremely difficult to remove. The cable or chain can be looped around the base of the tree or shrub, or, come to that, a statue, garden seat or any other vulnerable garden accessory.

A more recent development for securing container plants is based on a series of corrosion-resistant metal bands. These are secured into the ground through the plant container, using a masonry anchor. The root ball of the plant is placed on top and the metal bands are wrapped around it. The top of each band has a loop through which a plant anchor is threaded and locked in place. This arrangement holds the plant and its container securely to the ground, and it also prevents ‘wind rock’, which can slow the development of a newly planted tree or shrub, or even kill it.

A cheaper method of deterring the plant thief is to dig a much bigger hole than you would normally need for the root ball and cut a section of chicken wire to the same size. Cut a hole in the wire, small enough to prevent the root ball from pulling through, and pass the upper portion of the plant through it. Then stake out the chicken wire with lengths of wooden batten cut with grooves to hold the wire and pull it firmly into the more compressed subsoil. Finally, back-fill the hole following the planting instructions on the label. Several specimens can be planted in one go using this method; in fact, the more plants there are, the more secure they will be. Don’t forget to remove the new plant label, as this will stand out like a sore thumb.

Securing a plant anchor

Secure expensive trees and plants in your garden with this simple but effective device which takes no time at all to intall. This type of anchor is fixed on a concrete surface such as a patio.

1. Arranging the Plant Anchor

Chose a suitable site and drill a hole into the ground using the 6 mm drill bit. Place the central drainage hole of the container directly over the hole. Arrange the plant anchor assembly in the container and secure it to the ground using the masonry anchor.

2. Positioning the Plant

Having placed gravel in the base of the plant pot to aid drainage, place your chosen potted plant or tree into the container. Adjust the length of the plant anchor strips so that they fit around the rim of the pot.

3. Engaging the Lock

Engage the locking mechanism to hold the strips tightly together: your plant is now secure. Fill the remainder of the container with soil to complete the planting. You can also apply a layer of gravel or pebbles to cover the top of the soil and the device. This not only looks good, it also helps retain moisture around the plant.

Water, Pond Equipment and Fish

Water can be used as an effective barrier against a burglar, particularly if your garden has a boundary that runs along a canal or river. It can also be used to protect statuary if this is placed in the middle of a deep pond. However, you should never forget that the pond itself might be vulnerable to theft. A statue-based fountain could be at risk, as could any ornament, water pump, lighting, birdbath or fish.

You can protect a submersible pond pump by hiding it well in the pond, making sure the power cables and hoses are buried deeply. If you have the non- submersible type, it should be located in a locked building where it can be securely fixed to the wall. An ornamental fountain with a built-in pump should be fixed to the ground with a plant anchor. Defensive plants in heavy pots can be placed around a pond to make access a little more difficult, provided you are prepared to move them out of the way to maintain the pond.

Some ponds are stocked with fish worth hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Occasionally, they are stolen and, frankly, they are very difficult to protect. Buying time seems to be the best approach, which means a good general standard of security in the garden and boundary fences that can’t be climbed easily. A made-to-measure grille that sits over the pond and locks to a fixed base in several places provides the ultimate security. Although, this is an expensive option, it will also prevent children from falling into the pond when your back is turned. Make sure that a grille of this type is strong enough to bear the weight of someone falling on it, and that it sits just above the surface of the water so that fish can come to the surface to catch flies and eat.

Be aware that a water supply can be the source of damage in your garden and home. It is a good idea to have a stopcock inside the house that will turn off the supply to the outside tap. Failing this, use a tap with a detachable handle, or enclose the tap in a locked steel box mounted securely to the house wall.

Garden Furniture

Store garden furniture in your most secure outbuilding when not in use, but if you can’t do this and have to leave it outside, secure it to the ground using plant anchors, chains and padlocks. At the very least, mark the undersides of tables and chairs with your security postcode.

19. December 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Garden Management, Garden Security | Tags: , | Comments Off on Garden Security – Regularly Stolen Garden Items


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