Byline: Peter Axon Special Correspondent
With spring upon us and with the gardening season getting under way, enthusiasts are facing an increasingly common pest - the garden thief.
People spend billions of pounds at garden centres as horticulture remains one of the most popular leisure pursuits in Britain. According to a recent survey by Royal and Sun Alliance, householders spend more than pounds 360 a year on stocking their gardens.
At the same time, the Association of British Insurers warns that as many as one in seven will have something stolen from their garden before this year is out.
Better security on homes is forcing more thieves to turn their attention to garages and garden sheds. Indeed, this has become fertile ground for theft as stolen power tools, lawn mowers, bicycles, flower tubs, garden furniture and ornaments are easily sold on the black market. These thefts often happen at night when owners are at home.
The rise in theft is also thought to be due to the popularity of TV gardening programmes together with magazine and newspaper features that make pilferers more aware of the value of shrubs and gardening equipment.
Losses may be covered by household insurance, but you should dig out your policy document in order to check the small print.
Most insurers classify out-buildings, including sheds, as part of the home if these are kept locked, and will pay if items are stolen or damaged by fire, flood or storm. However, cover varies widely. Some contents policies insist that individual items worth more than pounds 1,000, such as motor mowers, are listed. …