Crime warning as clocks go forward

The Master Locksmiths Association – the leading trade body for the locksmithing profession – is warning householders to protect their gardens, grounds and outbuildings as the clocks go forward on March 30.

Research from insurance provider Aviva shows that thefts from gardens and outbuildings shoot up by over a quarter (25 per cent) after the clocks go forward in March, and that the average ‘haul’ of items stolen by burglars amounts to approximately £850.

As spring begins and the nights become lighter, more money is invested in gardens, with expensive tools being stored in outbuildings and ‘on show’ while being used. Increased outdoor activity also means that items such as bikes, barbeques and children’s toys can be left lying around – and prove tempting to thieves.

The Master Locksmiths Association is therefore urging homeowners and tenants to take steps to protect their properties and possessions – and stay one step ahead of criminals this spring.

Dr Steffan George, development director of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), said:

“Householders can take very simple steps to deter burglars and not attract their attention in the first place. For instance, checking for weak points in fencing, adding a lock to their garden gates, and ensuring that overgrown areas don’t provide cover for intruders, can help to protect a property from crime.

“Garden equipment should be stored securely away when it’s not being used. It may be tempting for people to relax with a cup of tea as soon as they’ve ‘downed tools’, but by leaving expensive items out on show, thieves will know what is kept on the premises.

“Locking sheds, outbuildings and conservatory doors and windows should be part of a daily routine, just like locking back and front doors is.”

Dr George continued:

“It’s easy to neglect the integrity of sheds and other outbuildings, and it’s important to remember that locks are prone to rust, while rot can affect the doors and windows, making them easier to break through. Cracked glass is often on the ‘fix it tomorrow’ list too.”

The MLA recommends that members of the public consider the quality of the locks and padlocks that are used to secure sheds and outbuildings, and suggests that scrimping on such products can be a false economy – especially when protecting expensive items such as lawnmowers.

Dr George commented:

“Garden tools can also be used to force entry into homes so we’d advise that householders have good quality locks/padlocks fitted by a professional locksmith, and use products which have third party accreditation from bodies such as security product testing house Sold Secure – which means that they have been thoroughly tested and meet very high standards.

“In addition, tools, ladders, bikes, barbeques and other large items can be locked up using chains, or where appropriate, a ground anchor, providing an extra line of defence against theft.”

The MLA suggests that a range of deterrents can be employed to protect a property and its grounds, including security lighting, alarms fitted to outbuildings and CCTV, while bars and grilles can prevent access.

The organisation is also urging homeowners and tenants to check that doors from outbuildings, garden rooms and conservatories which lead to the main house are properly secured too.

Dr George concluded:

“It’s easy to neglect grounds and outbuildings, but we’d urge the public to ensure that they are well protected. A third party accredited, licensed locksmith, such as an MLA member, will be able to assist in reviewing a property’s security and install effective security measures, helping to save money in the long term.”