AS the sun starts to make an appearance, keeping outdoor spaces secure should be top of mind as new research finds more than one in ten (11%) gardens, sheds, garages or outbuildings in Wales have been broken into in the past.

According to the research by Confused.com, victims of theft in the region reported that, an average of, £218 worth of items have been stolen from gardens, garages, sheds and outbuildings in the past. In total, nearly a fifth (18%) of UK adults who live in a property with at least one of these outdoor spaces have been burgled at least once in the past, with garages the most targeted. Victims reported more than £350 worth of items as stolen, on average.

And it seems thieves appear to be most attracted to tools which have been left in outbuildings, with more than two fifths (42%) of incidents across the UK resulting in these items being stolen. Nearly two in five (39%) victims also reported their bike as taken. However, some thieves have been brave enough to take items directly from gardens with more than a fifth (23%) of victims claiming plants and garden decorations were taken.

Most stolen items from outdoor spaces

Tools – 42%

Bikes – 39%

Plants – 23%

Working equipment – 23%

Lawnmowers – 23%

Garden decorations – 23%

BBQ – 21%

Furniture – 21%

Sporting equipment – 18%

Gym equipment – 16%

While the average value of items stolen was more than £350 across the UK, some victims found themselves without some very expensive items. In fact, almost a quarter (24%) claimed more than £500 worth of items have been taken from their outdoor spaces. More than half (53%) of victims went on to claim from their insurer to recover the costs, although this doesn’t always make up for the value stolen. More than three in four (77%) also had to pay out of their own pocket to replace items, forking out approximately £300 of their own money, on average.

It seems Brits need to be particularly careful in keeping their outdoor spaces secure, as the research found that gardens, garages, sheds and outbuildings across the UK hold approximately £1,000 worth of items, on average. And given our gardens were the furthest we could travel for most of last year, this seems to have sparked a spending habit in Brits, as those with gardens claim they spent more than £200 on new items and improvements in 2020. In fact, two in five (40%) people made changes during the lockdown including adding new plants (72%) and buying new garden furniture (37%) and barbeques (22%). One in 10 (9%) even created an outdoor office, suggesting valuable work items are now more vulnerable away from the house.

With so many Brits investing in their outdoor spaces during lockdown last year, British gardens are arguably more valuable now than ever before. In fact, one in 10 (11%) think their garden holds more valuable items than their bedroom. But security for these areas is often overlooked, making them an easier target for thieves. Worryingly, more than a fifth (22%) of people don’t have any basic security in place for their gardens and outbuildings. Of those with gardens, only two in five (43%) have a padlock or secure lock on their gate, and only a third (34%) of those with garages keep it securely locked up.

However, the research found that there is some confusion on the best way to keep outdoor spaces protected. And according to Confused.com’s experts, it can be as simple as investing in secure locks. Although, there’s also more smart technology now that can deter thieves and keep gardens and garages as secure as the home.

Despite so many Brits reporting valuable items in their garden, one in five (20%) don’t count these when working out the value of the contents in their home. This means some people may not necessarily have the right level of insurance cover they need for these items. In fact, only two in five (39%) have checked that their policy covers items they keep in the garden, shed, garage or other outbuildings. While it’s easy to assume these areas of the home are protected under contents insurance, Confused.com experts suggest checking the details, as more expensive items such as bikes and power tools may not be covered as standard. And like with any home insurance policy, items worth more than £1,000 should be listed individually – so that new expensive furniture set, or fancy barbeque may not be covered after all!

Jessica Willock, home insurance expert at Confused.com comments, “We know a lot of people invested in making their gardens a more enjoyable outdoor space. And with the sun starting to make an appearance, now’s the time to be dusting off the new barbeque or uncovering the new furniture set!

“But by investing in more expensive items, we’re putting ourselves at a higher risk of theft. While most items should be covered under our contents insurance, this isn’t always guaranteed. Always check the details!

“Ultimately, keeping our gardens and sheds secure will be the most effective way in protecting our valuables. We’ve compiled our top tips to keeping outdoor spaces secure, and this can be as easy as buying padlocks, or investing in cameras or other smart tech as we would for our homes.”