MORE than £10,000 of goods have been stolen from gardens in South Tyneside in just three months.
Police have released the startling figure as a reminder to residents to keep their property safe, and that even the most low-cost items can lure thieves.
Among those stolen were an artificial topiary tree, a plastic toadstool seat, a ton of sand, a doorbell, gas meters, a towel, metal troughs, a sweatband and a can of lager.
The thieves have struck at various gardens and allotments in the Boldon, Cleadon, Whitburn and East Shields areas since July.
Neighbourhood Inspector, Peter Sutton, said: "Some thefts from gardens are opportunistic – a thief will see something left out and will simply take it.
"And it's not just small items or expensive plants which are going missing but statues and items such as lawnmowers, tables and trailers.
"Thieves like easy targets – so don't give them one.
"Police are continuing to work hard to reduce crime and we would encourage residents not only to look at improving their home and vehicle security, but look at their gardens and allotments to minimise their chances of becoming a victim."
Advice from police includes keeping valuables out of sight or in a shed, which is then secured with two quality padlocks.
Security lighting and portable shed alarms can also scare off intruders, and homeowners should take photographs of garden furniture so if it is stolen and recovered, they can identify it.
Police also advise that where possible, people should plant prickly shrubs or trees to deter raiders.
For more crime prevention advice, contact police on 03456 043 043 ext 65023.
For free advice and a range of quality security products, visit the Gardien web site.
(Source of information: Shields Gazette)