A series of raids have been made on sheds around Bedford and surrounding villages.
Police are warning residents about locking up sheds and garages and making sure garden tools are put away out of sight.
During the last two weeks, five houses in Bedford, Carlton and Meppershall, have been broken into this way – and police say it is not uncommon.
Police often see a rise in shed and outbuilding break-ins at this time of year with bicycles and mopeds the top of burglars’ lists of things to steal. But gardening equipment and other household items are also popular and easy to get at if outbuildings and gardens are left insecure.
It’s not just the equipment in the sheds themselves which is at risk – poor shed and garden security contributes to house burglary too as the hand tools in them are quite often used to prise open windows in the house or smash through patio doors.
Since the winter storms brought down many people’s fences, police have also seen an upturn in burglars simply strolling into back gardens through gaps in fences.
Insp Gail Mulvaney said: “We would encourage everyone to not only lock the door of their garage or shed but secure their bike to the wall as well if possible. In addition to this, don’t leave bolt croppers, lopping-shears or other such items lying around in the garden or shed, making it easy for burglars to free your property and run off with it in a matter of seconds.
“Now summer’s here, try to get broken fence panels fixed and garden gates fitted with good locks.”
Many householders do not consider the value of the goods in the shed and therefore look after them accordingly. If your shed only contains a few broken pots and seed trays then closing the door with a bent nail might be adequate. However – if like so many – your shed contains the mower, strimmer, power tools, barbecue and kids’ bikes then the old bent nail is woefully inadequate. Thieves are not averse to stealing items which need a trailer or van
either – ride-on lawnmowers and particularly quad bikes are very popular.
However, there are steps to take that will deter most thieves:
• Check gates and fences – are there any weak spots – a high back wall and a thorny hedge are two great deterrents.
• Side passage - fit a strong gate.
• Sheds and garages – buy and use a good quality lock, padbolt or hasp and staple with padlocks.
• Consider an inexpensive alarm system.
• Do you really need a window in the shed or could it be boarded up?
• Mark your property with postcode. You can buy cheap kits from most DIY stores, which enable you to etch the number on – or simply paint it on. This is more effective than “invisible” marking which can fade. You could share the cost of the kit with neighbours and friends.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Reduction co-ordinators continue to actively target the problem at the moment but anything that can be done to prevent the problem in the first place is invaluable.
If you have information relating to any burglaries, contact Bedfordshire Police on the non emergency number 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
Alternatively contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at crimestoppers-uk.org