Garden theft is on the rise. It makes perfect sense, too. To scope a house, a thief might believe is empty, he can simply ring the doorbell. If no one answers, the burglar will then enter the backyard and search for open doors and unlocked windows. The goods are right there; ready to be taken without ever having to enter the home.
There’s no reason why you should make a thief’s job easy. Patio furniture, grills, exotic plants, even garden art and lawnmowers get snagged or vandalized. Here are a few simple tips to help you secure your belongings in the back yard and keep thieves from invading your home through a back door.
- Document your inventory. It involves some time and effort, but taking pictures of items or videotaping your property can help you with insurance claims. List your furniture, grills, smokers, gardening tools and anything else you deem important and valuable. Make sure to create an itemized list to go with your visual proof.
- Make your mark. Place your name, address, zip code or other unique symbol on your belongings. Place them in discrete locations, so they won’t be noticed or removed. This will help you identify and claim them, should they be stolen. It’s wise, especially if you are using a symbol, to record where you place these identifying marks in the inventory descriptions.
- Nail it down. Everything from patio furniture to BBQ grills, even heavy fixtures, can be bolted down, bound with cables or cemented in place.
- Make ‘em run. Another option for securing items is installing alarms that create an excessive amount of noise. Cable alarms can be used for most items in your yard, including riding mowers, tables and chairs, even coolers. The costs are low and the effects are impressive.
- Make friends and get them involved. Neighbors are one of the best deterrents you can have. Sadly, many homeowners don’t get to know one another as they should. Simply by being aware of one another and keeping an eye out for suspicious activities, most thefts can be deterred.
- Fence it off. A good, strong, six-foot fence will not only keep out most burglars, it can keep animals out of your garden. If you have a fence, check for holes and damage that may need to be repaired or replaced. Do NOT rely on simple lift latches on your gate; these will not deter a thief. Install latches and use padlocks to secure gates.
- Light it up. If thieves hate to be noticed, one of the best deterrents is to shine a spotlight on them. The best way to do that is installing motion sensors in the backyard. Place them over or near entrances around the house. These devices are cost effective and not only provide safety; they provide extra light on those late nights when you come home.
- Lock it up. When you leave your home, make sure you lock the windows and doors. It may sound silly, but homeowners often forget or simply don’t mind leaving a backdoor open. Chances are a theft will happen during the day while you’re at work. Thieves, by nature, will simply find the path of least resistance, walk in, take your valuables and leave. Don’t give them that opportunity and check the house before leaving. Make sure your shed is also locked and secured with padlocks.
- Grow your confidence. Landscaping is a two-edged sword. Trees planted to keep a thief out can also hide him while he takes advantage of your absence. Weigh and consider the pros and cons of using plants as part of your defense. If you do decide to use live barriers, consider beautiful plants that can hinder. Rose bushes, berry bushes, Firethorn and Hawthorne are great examples to use around the windows of your home. Place them under the easiest access areas. A lawn forgotten is also a sure sign that you don’t care about your home and may have left a way in. Mow your lawn and keep your yard clean.
- A man’s best friend. Don’t forget that a good line of defense can also be a good friend. Dogs are a wonderful addition to the family and an effective deterrent to potential theft. Don’t want an actual dog? Post signs about the invisible beast living in the house.
- Keep an eye on it all. The last option, albeit it can be an expensive one, is a security camera system. You should know that a truly effective system is both costly to buy and to maintain over time. Another option, combined with the tips mentioned above, is to install fake ones. Give the dirt bags the illusion that you have your house all under control. The simple presence of a camera can encourage a thief to pick an easier target.
There you have it: A list of simple, yet effective ways to deter a thief and secure your backyard and home. If you have any suggestions I may have missed, please leave a comment and share your suggestions.