The darker evenings and gloomier weather have arrived, bringing with them a greater risk of break-ins to sheds, garages and other outbuildings. If ever there was a time of year to give some attention to your shed security, this is it.
Data from Admiral Insurance reveals that insurance claims for these types of thefts jump by 82% between October and March (peaking in January) and that the average insurance claim from a shed theft stands at almost £2,000.
This means it could be time to take steps to boost your shed security as well as the security of garages and other outbuildings. If you’re concerned, this is what the experts recommend.
What do thieves steal from sheds?
Bikes, tools and garden equipment rank highest on the list of at-risk items that appeal most to thieves. The brand-new bikes or scooters stowed in garden sheds and garages following Christmas are also a possible target for burglars, as are premium tools, garden equipment or even fancy barbecues.
According to data from Compare the Market, tools are the most-commonly stolen item from sheds or outbuildings, making up 39% of reported thefts. Next comes garden furniture and then bikes and sports equipment.
Foodstuffs are the fifth most stolen item – something to keep in mind as we approach Christmas if you use your shed or garage to store the festive goodies (especially pricier things like champagne, wine and spirits) you’ve stocked up on.
How can I make my shed more secure?
Our sheds and outbuildings provide us with handy storage but to ensure what’s in them isn’t easy pickings for thieves, there are a number of measures you can put in place.
Inspect sheds for weak points
“One of the most vulnerable areas of a shed is its roof,” warns Lucy Trevelayan, security expert for Toolstation. “Thieves can break in by popping the roof, so make sure yours is well-secured by ensuring it is properly bolted to the shed frame.”
Keep things out of view
Look through the shed windows: can you see anything valuable? If so, move it or consider covering up the windows to prevent prying eyes.
“Windows are also a way in, so either consider fitting a security shutter over them or make them so small that thieves can’t squeeze through,” Lucy adds.
Lock up pricier possessions
And even if a thief does gain entry, Lucy suggests making things tricky to access by adding extra security measures: “Having a last line of defence makes sense. If you use your shed to store bikes, tools or garden furniture consider keeping them locked away in a hard-to-move storage unit. Lock bikes and lawnmowers to ring bolts attached to walls or floors and you can even bolt free-standing tools to the floor.”
Check locks, bolts and door hinges
“As with your house, check the quality of locks on sheds and outbuildings to ensure they are still working properly and aren’t rusty,” urges Steffan George from the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA).
“Mortice security bolts should be installed to the top and bottom of doors where possible, and if your shed door (or frame) is too small and thin for a mortice lock, invest in a good quality, independently tested and certified hasp, staple and padlock.
“Pay attention to door hinges too, ensuring thieves cannot easily remove them and take the door off that way. Fitting a pair of hinge bolts to each leaf should hold the door in place if someone tries to break the hinges.”
Keep on top of shed maintenance
Upkeep of garden sheds can sometimes remain at the bottom of the to-do list, but Steffan warns us to stay vigilant.
“Maintenance is often forgotten but very important in terms of security. Rusted locks, chains and hasps and staples, cracked panes of glass and even rotten frames and sills are all things that opportunist thieves look out for, so it’s important that you perform regular and thorough maintenance checks.
“If you do notice any wear and tear on locks or fittings, ensure you get in touch with a professional to help you replace or fix them. If you chance it yourself and get it wrong this could negatively affect both your security and your insurance.”
Install security lights
Upping the lighting in your garden and around your home can help make your shed, garage or other outbuildings much less appealing to would-be thieves.
“You can scare off would-be burglars with security lights, which are also handy when you’re negotiating the path to your shed in the dark,” points out Toolstation’s Lucy. “You can install a motion-triggered security camera that points at your shed. This should be positioned high up where it can’t be interfered with.
“It also means you can get the footage streamed to your phone when you’re not at home. And it could also be used as evidence if your shed is broken into.”
How can I make my bike shed more secure?
A good first step to keeping your bike secure is to store it in a shed, preferably in the back garden – but don’t stop there!
“You can add an additional layer of protection in the form of locks and secure brackets within the shed,” advises Jonathan Pressling from Evans Cycles. “You need to ensure there is a bracket or hook that is fixed within the shed that you can secure your bike with a lock to. We’d recommend using a gold standard lock such as this Kryptonite D Lock that’s recognised by major insurance providers.”
Is a metal bike shed more secure than a wooden one?
Probably. “Generally, metal bike sheds will offer higher security out of the box than wooden ones,” Evans Cycles’ Pressling explains. “Due to the nature of the material, it’s harder to break through. Saying this, it’s harder to customise metal sheds with additional hooks or brackets.”
And Lucy from Toolstation adds, “Metal sheds tend to include reinforced hinges, strong bracing and are much more durable so are less vulnerable to burglars.”
Will my insurance cover thefts from sheds and outbuildings?
Having all the security measures possible is one thing, but you need to make sure you use them, especially in the event of theft.
“If you have a shed, garage or other outbuilding, you must ensure it’s securely locked,” advises Noel Summerfield, head of household at Admiral. “If anything is stolen and you want to make a claim for theft, your insurer will likely ask you to prove the shed or outbuilding was secure at the time. Remember, insurers may reject a claim if you can’t prove that your shed was locked, and thieves forced entry.”
It’s no secret that bikes can often be magnets for thieves, especially models with high price tags so it’s important to read the small print of your insurance policy. Some policies will cover bikes stolen from sheds and outbuildings up to a certain value (Admiral offers cover for bikes up to £350 as a standard part of home insurance policies, for example). Bikes worth more than this will been to be added to your policy as a ‘specified item’ to ensure they are covered.
How can I make my garage more secure?
If your garage is connected to your house, don’t overlook the security of doors into your home, as these can provide as would-be burglars with an easy route indoors.
“It’s vital that you check any linking doors and treat these doors the same as you would your final exit door, as criminals may use them as means of entry to your home, and if hidden from view may have more time to spend trying to break in,” says Steffan.