Thieves are taking advantage of a growing trend for garden gadgets, with new report revealing the number of thefts from outside dwellings rose by 23% in just 12 months.
Official data shows there were 112,000 more thefts from people's gardens last year than in 2017, with thieves taking everything from barbecues and lawnmowers to play equipment, tables and chairs, bikes, garden plants and even garden gnomes.
The figures also include theft of parcels delivered to people’s front doors by so-called ‘porch pirates’.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales, published by the Office for National Statistics, reveals the number of thefts from outside people's homes jumped from 483,000 in 2017 to 595,000 in 2018.
Over the same period, domestic burglary actually fell by 2% from 685,000 to 669,000.
Former senior police detective Stuart Gibbon, who runs his own security consultancy business, said: “Garden gadgets are an increasingly attractive prospect for thieves. A high-end barbecue or a robotic lawnmower can cost a lot of money these days - but we do not treat them with the same care as other valuables.
“We leave them outside and unlocked in a way we would never do with a laptop or a mobile phone worth the same value. We feel garden equipment is safe within the grounds of our house, but it is not hard to move a lawnmower or even a barbecue on wheels. It might be an inconvenience, but people should keep their garden equipment under lock and key when they are out - in a garden shed or fixed to something with a decent padlock to reduce the risk.”