The garden shed used to be where you threw a few garden tools and the man of the house went to escape the family. But many now store thousands of pounds of equipment making shed security a bigger issue.
Once home to little more than a rustling petrol mower and a few bottles of turps, these days the humble shed can be anything from a home office to a garden room.
There’s even an award for shed of the year. Perhaps it’s a sign of how much pressure there is on space for many of us within our homes.
But it seems that the new use of a shed not only creates extra opportunities for us – but also for thieves. We’ve found that nearly one in three Which? members now keeps more than £2,000 of equipment in their shed or garage. And the theft of computers and mobile devices from sheds and outbuildings is increasing.
This is especially a problem in summer when shed theft shoots up by about 25% in the London area. Between 2012-14, 342 laptops, 387 computers and 447 phones were stolen from sheds in the London area alone.
Would you be covered if your shed was broken into?
But you have to watch out. Things you keep in sheds and garages are usually covered for theft under your home contents insurance. But it depends on how much they’re worth. Eight of 38 standard policies we looked at didn’t cover thefts worth more than £2,500 from outbuildings.
Many insurers have a ‘single article limit’ (the most they will pay to replace one specific item). This could mean that if expensive items like high-end bikes or ride-on lawnmowers are stolen, you may not receive the full value.
Tips on protecting your shed
- Keep it securely locked. Use a padlock attached to a strong hasp and staple
- Secure door hinges with coach bolts or non-returnable screws
- If you keep a bike in it, the shed must be kept locked otherwise insurers might not pay out for a replacement if it is stolen
- Replace rotten doors or window frames. If your whole shed needs replacing, read more about the shed brands
- Use Perspex or polycarbonate as a more secure alternative for outbuilding windows
Would you store valuable items in your shed? Would your insurance cover you for the loss of high-value items? Have you lost valuable items from your shed?