June 14, 2016
Property gossip August 2016

Those of you living in Waltham Forest will probably remember recent reports of bricks being stolen from local churches and even people’s front gardens. Thieves would drive their van into the wall before making off with the bricks, which would sell on for around £1 per brick.

The bricks in question are of course the old yellow “London stock” type, some dating back before the Victorian era, and a very popular choice for property owners looking to build an extension with a desire to match the extension to rest of the property.

This is not the first time we have experienced an attack on our front gardens. Several years back people were waking up to find their front gate had suddenly disappeared. One week we had over half a dozen reports from confused tenants curious as to the whereabouts of the front garden gate.

There are the numerous instances when a tenant has left an item outside, for a scheduled council collection, only to find that the said item had vanished only a few minutes later. It almost felt as though they were being watched.

Have you ever experienced anything go missing, perhaps from your back garden? What kind of items would a thief target? Well you might be surprised …

True story 1

Two men in West London used to drive around housing estates in the early hours of Sunday morning stealing hanging baskets, garden ornaments and potted plants from outside people’s houses, which they would then sell at car boot sales later the same day.  Such was the reward they made from their thieving that they had kitted out the roof of the van with rails on which to hang around 70 baskets.  They were eventually caught in the act and the police estimated that they were making about a £1000 at each boot sale.  So good did they become that they could steal to order!

An article in Property Reporter referred to some research carried out by Co-operative Insurance, revealing that some 66% of us (in the UK) have been the victim of garden theft at least once and it’s not just the obvious items which thieves will target, as you can see from the table below.

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%

True story 2

In 1979 in Acton, West London, Mrs Smith made tea for the men working for the removal company that was clearing out her neighbour’s house.  The neighbours were on holiday and although she thought it odd that they weren’t present during the move she didn’t really know them that well and put it down to the modern way that young people do things these days.  Ten days later her neighbours returned from their holiday and Mrs Smith said how surprised she was that they had not simply returned to their new house.  “What new house?” came the reply. My colleague, who attended the scene of the crime, described what he saw.  Every room had been emptied of everything; even the light bulbs were gone.  They dismantled the greenhouse, dug up the roses and took most of the contents of the shed. There was nothing left!

I guess we could all be more vigilant. A sensor security light, triggered by movement may help; however, thieves will also strike during the daylight hours, perhaps at a time when many of us are out at work, or on the school run. Don’t make it easy for them – put a decent lock on your shed, lock away tools and other equipment and where possible keep toys and the like inside when not in use. Oh, and keep any ladders secure, and where possible locked onto something. This way a thief cannot use them to try and access your property, or a neighbour’s property for that matter.

Both of the true stories quoted in this article came from The Crime Prevention Website. Click the following link for more advice and general information https://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/preventing-crime-in-the-garden-outbuildings-and-garage/491/preventing-theft-from-the-garden/