Theft from Gardens — Police Warning

Open Letter To All Gardeners

During the Spring, Bedfordshire Police sees an upturn of theft from gardens and allotments as gardeners get to grips with tidying up winter growth and preparing for the new growing season.  Tools and lawnmowers are often the target but, even if nothing is stolen, damage is caused and is inconvenient and expensive for the victim.

However, as all experienced gardeners know, there is just as much work to be done when Autumn approaches and, again, all your tools will be in constant use.  Unfortunately, for the allotment holder, nature is against them as the days rapidly get shorter, the weather worsens and the allotments are less frequented over the winter.  This leaves your tools and equipment unattended for long periods of time and the gap between the crime and its discovery can be anything between a day and a fortnight.

Shed and container security is all important, therefore.  It is worthwhile giving your allotment a “health check”:

Check your locks and bolts – replace any rusty items, ensure all padlocks and hasps bear the British Standard kite mark and are made of hardened steel.

Don’t forget the hinges on your doors – if a burglar can’t breach the lock, they may attempt to unscrew the hinges.  Use coach bolts, non-return screws or simply damage the screw head; you don’t need to do every screw, just a couple on the hanging plate and a couple on the door plate.

Remember to secure outbuilding windows – even the ones that don’t open can be vulnerable.  Consider obscuring the window with an opaque window film (the type used to obscure bathroom windows) as this will reduce the temptation.  Alternatively, fit a grille or a couple of bars across the inside of the window to reduce the window aperture.

Consider using a battery-operated siren alarm in your outbuildings - they often cost less than £20 and are simple to install and use.  Unfortunately, these are not so appropriate for allotments that are in remote areas.

Get into the good habit of putting everything away when you have finished with it.  Your own tools can be used to break into your storage.

Have you thought about security marking your tools?  Whilst property marking cannot prevent your goods from being stolen by itself, it is a very good deterrent as it is difficult to sell on stolen property that has been marked.  It also allows the police to return recovered stolen goods to their rightful owner and secure a charge.

Items you don’t mind spoiling the look of (ie, garden furniture, power tools and heaters) can be marked by etching or scratching your postcode on to them, or with a permanent marker pen.  You can either put your house number and postcode but, as a lot of tools end up in the second-hand trade, you may wish to write “Offered For Sale? Call (phone number)” on the item instead.

Alternatively, there are chemical DNA-based marking products such as SelectaDNA and SmartWater. All Bedfordshire residents enjoy a discount with SelectaDNA by quoting NHWCENTRALBEDS when you buy online at - using the code, you can purchase a kit for £22 including delivery. Normal retail price including delivery of a similar kit available to the public is £67.84!

Display signs around the allotment site that all property is marked and traceable.

And finally, add security onto the agenda at your allotment committee meetings.  Encourage members to report any breaches in the boundaries immediately and, if there is lighting, check it is working properly.  It does no harm to remind people to be a little more vigilant and that security measures are in place for their own benefit.

Just so that we are clear on the extent of the problem, allotment crime is relatively low but Bedfordshire Police would still like to see less of it.

I hope that this information is of use to you.   If you have any questions or need specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact me at on 01234 275273 or by email:

We will also be encouraging members to join our BedsAlert system so that they can receive news and advice regarding crime and police activity in their local area.

With kind regards

2484 Lara CURTAYNE
Force Crime Reduction Officer

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