All Cheshire Police wants for Christmas is for you to take some time out to think about how you can deter burglars from breaking into your shed or garage and stealing items you worked hard to buy.
We all think about our home security but we don’t very often think beyond this when it comes to security. We don’t think twice about putting expensive things like mountain or racing bikes, patio furniture, outdoor heaters and lawnmowers in our sheds or garages.
When it comes to Christmas, we might also be tempted to hide presents there too. But have we thought about how secure our shed or garage is?
Make sure your buildings are secured, and gates are closed and locked to deter burglars. Our Christmas message is simple, burglars are like magpies − they both steal for their own benefit – so lock it up and keep it secure.
Superintendent Peter Crowcroft said: "Please remember that even though the gardening season is over, criminals are still interested in stealing garden tools and other items which are stored outside. In some cases, doors are forced or locks cut, but in others the shed or garage is left unlocked. All the criminal has to do was walk in.
"Bikes, lawn mowers and power tools are all valuable and relatively easy to dispose of. If your shed is vulnerable, you are providing the burglar with the tools of his trade, right on the spot.
"Think carefully about what you leave in a shed. If you own a bike there might be a better place to store it. Other items such as lawnmowers and power tools can be chained together to make them more difficult to move and then covered over so that they are not immediately visible from the shed window.
"Then think about safeguarding your shed or garage in the same way you would think about the rest of your home security."
Here’re a few practical precautions to help keep your belongings safe:
1. Never leave your garage or shed unlocked. Ensure they are secured with a strong padlock. Consider using window locks where appropriate.
2. Doors should be solid and in a good state of repair so that they are not easy to force.
3. DIY stores stock locks that have a grading system on them. Try to ensure that the lock you are using is fit for purpose for securing your shed/outbuilding.
4. Consider the use of a shed or garage alarm, particularly if your shed or garage contains a high number of valuable items.
5. Remember that sheds are not ideally designed for safe storage.
6. Property mark valuable items using a recognised system such as UV pens or DNA liquid. It is also worthwhile to take photographs and serial numbers of valuable items for insurance purposes.
7. Installing light sensors in the garden which are activated by someone setting it off who may be wandering about at night. This can also put other neighbours on alert if they see the light on.
8. Finally, consider the area around your shed and garage. Would it benefit from some well-placed rose or holly bushes in key positions, such as under windows or around doors? Could a gravel path or equally noisy surface be laid so that any potential offenders create a noise approaching the area? Most importantly, is your garden perimeter secure with no weak spots in hedges and fences and no items such as bins easily available for use as stepping stones over the fence? Remember that once a burglar has entered a garden they have more of an opportunity to operate unseen.
9. Sign up for Neighbourhood Watch (https://www.cheshire.police.uk/advice-and-support/watch-schemes/neighbourhood-watch/)
and Neighbourhood Alert (https://www.cheshirepolicealert.co.uk/pages/1543/1/About.html) which will give you further crime prevention advice and alert you to any suspicious activity in your area.
For more information on home security and crime prevention, please visit cheshire.police.uk.
If you see suspicious activity call police on 101.