Friday, December 30, 2011

Heartless thieves steal sundial in Streatham Common

Metal thieves have struck again in a community park – this time targeting a much loved sundial. The dial, which was located in the Rookery on Streatham Common, was detached from its stone base during the Christmas holidays and stolen.
Streatham resident Philip Sidaway, of nearby Valley Road, was walking through the park when he noticed it had been taken.
He said: “I’m disgusted but not surprised given all the other metal theft around. The top of the plinth it stood on appears to show signs of it being chiselled off.”
Kasia Brookes, committee secretary for the Streatham Common Community Garden, said the theft was “a very selfish act” but reflected the tough economic times.
She said: “I think it's a great shame, as I remember the sundial from my childhood - it's been there for years and years.
“I'm sure it means something to quite a lot of people. It is a very selfish act, but it also shows how desperate people are getting at the moment.”
A council spokesman said it would cost between £300 and £400 to replace the stolen dial.
He said: “The Rookery sundial is an important attraction for residents and visitors who come to enjoy Streatham Common and its theft is devastating.
“We will do everything in our power to assist the police in investigating this matter which sadly appears to be the latest incident of public art and metal theft to occur in a south London borough.”
In October, thieves stole two imitation bronze inscription plates from the Civilian War Memorial in the Lambeth Cemetery in Blackshaw Road, while a grade-II listed bronze relief plaque at West Norwood Cemetery commemorating the Victorian building magnate Benjamin Colls was desecrated as thieves attempted to steal it and sell it for cash.
Nearby West Norwood Library has been closed until further notice after copper was stolen from the roof.
As the price of scrap metal continues to spiral, police estimate that metal theft across the UK is costing the economy £1 billion a year.
Lambeth Council Leader Steve Reed has called on the Government to help tackle the problem.
“We need the Government to act fast to put these lowlife criminals out of business,” he said

(Reproduced from Local Guardian, Streatham  30th Dec 2011)

Gardien Comment: Don't make it easy for opportunist thieves in your area. Check out what metal items you have around your house and garden, lock them away wherever possible, and fit security devices to lessen the chance of theft. See for advice and solutions

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bench theft a blow for Doncaster East church

A HEARTLESS theft from a memorial garden housing the ashes of late parishioners at the Doncaster East Baptist Church has left the community reeling.
Two weeks ago, thieves made off with two large wooden bench seats from the church’s Memorial Peace Garden.
The benches had been donated by two local women in memory of their late husbands whose ashes were interred in the garden.
Associate pastor Hal Grix said the theft had disturbed the congregation and wider community.
“It was a place for everyone to find peace and quiet so to think people targeted it is very distressing,” he said.
“It’s very sad for us that a final resting place has been disrupted.”
Mr Grix said the church had been robbed several times in the past two years.
“We’ve had a couple of break-ins and money has been stolen and property damaged,” he said.
“I’m baffled by people attacking churches because we don’t have much here.”
Mr Grix said the benches would be replaced as soon as possible but would lack the sentimental value.
Doncaster police Sen-Constable Di Davidson said she had door-knocked and letterbox-dropped the area for information to no avail.
“We’ve canvassed the neighbourhood but nobody appears to know anything,” she said.
“It’s a horrible thing to happen.”
The seats were chained down and extremely heavy so Sen-Constable Davidson said bolt cutters and a vehicle must have been involved.
Anybody with information is urged to call Doncaster Police on 8841 3999.

(Reproduced from The Manningham Leader, 21st Dec 2011)

Gardien Comment: Nothing has any meaning to thieves and so absolutley nothing is safe from attack. Never assume that anything is too heavy or awkward to be moved - see the security advice at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas trees theft 'a disaster' for Surrey nursery

A FAMILY-RUN garden nursery in Thorpe has been left devastated after thousands of pounds of Christmas trees were plundered by thieves last week.
John Braggins, owner of the Mayflower Nursery in Thorpe Lea Road, said the thieves used a back access to the garden centre to break in and make off with 100 of their 120 trees.
The nursery, which closed last spring and reopened under Mr Braggins’ ownership in September, was already proving popular.
Run with the help of his family, Mr Braggins had always planned to sell the festive firs during the advent period, but now has been left depleted of Christmas stock and Christmas spirit.
“As a family it has been disastrous," he said, adding: “We have still got quite a lot of work to do here before next spring.
“We’re trying not to let it affect our Christmas, but that money is not in our pockets now.
He added: “It affects us deeply, because the profit from selling the trees was to be used to buy shrubs for the nursery in spring, that was the idea anyway.
“It’s a big hit, a big hit. We have had no loans from the bank, so I have had to replenish the stock myself, paying cash. We’re never going to recuperate that.
“To have someone walk in and steal from you like that, it’s just soul-destroying.”
The theft took place at some point between 4pm on Monday, December 5 and 10am on Tuesday, December 6.
The thieves cut through the canvas cover on an outbuilding at the site and stole the British pine trees, which ranged in height from 5ft to 9ft tall.
Egham neighbourhood sergeant Iain Weaving said patrols would be stepped up around sites selling Christmas trees.
He added: “Crimes can be seasonal and this is a seasonal crime, where people are looking to seize stock that they can sell on.
"I’m sure that these thieves do other things at other times of the year, and are probably the same people that target lawnmowers and leaf-blowers in the summer.”
Mr Braggins said they had now increased security at the nursery, adding lighting and blocking the back access gate.
Anyone with any information about the burglary should contact Surrey Police on 101, quoting reference RM/11/7160, or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111

(Reproduced from  Dec 15th)

Gardien Comment: As so often happens, security has been improved as a result of the theft, but by then the damage had been done. Security needs to be reviewed on a regular basis and weaknesses addressed. For general advice on security of gardens and outdoor items visit  

Wallington 'elf-nappers' hunted over garden centre theft

Three women, one in a wheelchair, have been spotted stealing an electric elf from a garden centre in south London. The suspects stole 2ft-high Chippy from Woodcote Green Garden Centre in Wallington on 6 December.
Chippy, a pink-faced elf, used to wave at visitors to the nursery before it was taken, leaving bosses "shocked" by the behaviour.
The women were caught on CCTV unplugging Chippy before leaving after the incident.
They were accompanied by a young child. 
Phil Barnden, manager of the garden centre, said: "I was particularly shocked that someone could stoop so low. We want him back.
"The most disappointing thing is he is not there to wave at all the little children coming in.
"We have now got an empty plinth where Chippy used to sit next to his mate Rusty."
Mr Barnden said it cost about £1,000 to hire the two elves.
He said collections during the Christmas festivities raise money for charities including Help the Heroes.
Mr Barnden added: "We want to try and get him back. The kids are missing him."
Police hope anyone who saw the thieves will get in touch.
One of the suspect is aged 25 to 30, about 5ft 6in tall, with long black hair and a ponytail wearing a black tracksuit.
The wheelchair-user was being pushed by a teenager in a stripy black and white T-shirt.

(Reproduced from BBC News Online 15th Dec)

Gardien Comment: An "elf and safety" issue?  Another example of how nothing can be considered safe from theft during the run-up to Christmas. Don't leave it too late - take precautions before you become a victim, not after. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Warning over fuel oil thefts in East Anglia

Rural homes and businesses were urged to protect valuable supplies of heating oil after insurers reported a substantial rise in theft claims across the region.Rising fuel prices have made heating oil an attractive target for thieves, with some tanks capable of holding stocks worth thousands of pounds.
Insurance firm NFU Mutual said the number of claims for oil theft doubled in the first six months of this year – with the East of England the worst-hit region.
Norfolk Constabulary’s figures show that although there was a 35pc rise in reported thefts during the first six months of this year, the figures evened out by the end of 2011, with 187 reports so far compared to 186 in 2010.
In Suffolk, the upward regional trend was more pronounced, with 115 reported incidents until December 4 this year, compared to 93 throughout the same period in 2010.
Officers in Norfolk credited the county’s relatively stable figures to an ongoing public awareness campaign – but warned that vigilance was still needed to safeguard valuable fuel oil during the winter.
Det Sgt Pete Jessop, from Norfolk police’s Operation Radar team said: “You wouldn’t leave a bucket with £50 notes in your back garden, but effectively that’s what people are doing if they don’t protect their fuel tanks.
“We are reminding people there are precautions they can take against thefts. They can reinforce it, disguise it, put lights on it – but they have to protect it because everyone is a potential victim.
“In particular, businesses and schools which are closed over the Christmas period need to make sure they are aware of what they have got in their tanks.”
NFU Mutual’s report says the cost of dealing with fuel thefts had also soared, partly due to the expense of cleaning up soil and groundwater contamination leaking from oil tanks damaged by thieves.
The police’s crime prevention advice includes:
Check oil levels frequently, and consider an electronic gauge which sets off an alarm if the oil level suddenly drops.
Fit a good quality locking device to secure all fuel tanks.
Consider perimeter security for the whole tank, such as a metal cage, fencing or even a prickly hedge.
Position your oil tank to allow maximum view from your property – this may discourage passing thieves.
Consider dusk to dawn lighting around the tank so you can see and anyone can be seen.
The most recent reported heating oil theft in Norfolk was on November 30, when 300 litres were stolen from a garden tank on Hillside at East Barsham, near Fakenham.
Officers asked anyone who saw any suspicious activity or vehicles in the area between 10.30am and 5.30pm to contact Fakenham Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111

(Reproduced from Eastern Daily Press, 14th Dec)

Gardien Comment: There are some simple, effective solutions such as the Combined Padlock and Alarm  ( ) or the Garden Laser Tripwire ( ). If mains power is available fairly close to the Fuel Tank, then Guardcam provides a comprehensive solution which will record the attempted theft and can produce an audible warning to scare off unwanted visitors ( )

Monday, December 12, 2011

Britain is in the grip of an austerity crime-wave with two thirds rise in burglaries in parts of the country

Britain has been hit by an ‘austerity crimewave’, with burglary and robbery both on the rise, experts said last night. Police figures reveal there were 9 per cent more burglaries in October this year than in December 2010. Around three quarters of forces in England and Wales saw a rise in burglary numbers when the two months were compared. Feeling the pinch: Among the worst figures nationwide were a 66 per cent rise in burglaries in Devon and Cornwall and a 55 per cent rise in Cleveland
Over the same period robberies were up by 4.5 per cent.
The figures were collated by the Economic Policy Centre from the website, which compiles data from individual constabularies.
Among the worst figures nationwide were a 66 per cent rise in burglaries in Devon and Cornwall and a 55 per cent rise in Cleveland.
Robberies were up 23 per cent in Surrey and 22.7 per cent in Cleveland.
Last week Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told a committee of the London assembly: ‘We’ve got a challenge at the moment around robbery, particularly street robbery.’
In the year to October muggings in the capital were up nearly 15 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Several parts of London saw increases of nearly one third in robberies in the 12 months to October. In Lewisham, south east London the rise was 30.4per cent.
Ministers have insisted chief constables can protect front line police services despite cuts of a fifth in force budgets.
But Labour and police representatives say the loss of an estimated 16,000 officers can only undermine crime-fighting.
In June, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke admitted robbery was rising ‘rather alarmingly’.
Official crime statistics have shown marked rises in knifepoint robberies, bicycle thefts and pickpocketing.
Data for the year to June showed there were 14,980 knifepoint robberies – up seven per cent compared to the 13,994 a year earlier.
Police have also warned of rising thefts of iPhone and other expensive mobile handsets which criminals sell on the black market abroad for twice their value in the UK.
Rising thefts from garden sheds, yards and garages - which were up 13 per cent last year - are thought to be linked to easy sales of garden equipment in car boot sales.
Criminologist Professor Marian FitzGerald said: ‘People are feeling the pinch with the loss of jobs and benefit cuts. 'Yet people want to maintain their levels of consumption, so they hunt for bargains.
‘This increases the demand for stolen goods’.
Jon Murphy, of the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ‘In particular the economic situation has driven some crimes, such as metal theft,’ he said.
‘We are prepared for challenging times ahead, but remain accountable to our mission to keep people safe from harm.’

(Reproduced from Mail Online, 12th Dec 2011 - The full article can be found at :

Gardien Comment: Take heed - don't be a victim. Look for the advice and products at

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Metal theft doubles in a year

THE POLICE are warning the public about metal thefts being on the increase.

Last week a property on the Saintfield Road, Lisburn was broken into and an amount of copper piping was stolen.
In August, 20 manhole covers worth £2,000 were stolen from the grounds of the Sally Garden Centre in Poleglass.
Thieves also target schools with 20 schools in Northern Ireland having lead stolen from their roofs, followed by building sites, churches, farms and shops.According to police statistics there has been a significant rise in metal thefts, with the PSNI recording 158 lead thefts in 2010/11, compared to 74 in 2009/10. In 2005 there were just 52 cases. Thieves pocketed £53,485 from stolen lead in the last year alone, despite 46 of the reported metal hauls recorded as having no estimated value.
That equates to £477.54 per load of lead they were able to sell.
The vast majority of recorded cases of theft comes from homes. Of the 158 cases, 49 were stolen from a dwelling.
Police would advice the public to:
• Remove or delay fitting metal such as copper tanks and copper pipes if a house is going to be empty.
• Mark metal with tamper-proof stickers, UV spray or grease.
• Use signs on vacant properties warning metal has been marked or removed. Consider using anti-climb paint, however you may have to display signage.
• Artificial lead (which is lower in resale value) is a good replacement in the event of a theft.

(Reproduced from The Ulster Star, 8th Dec 2011)

Gardien Comment: Use DNA Grease to mark property so that items can be traced back to their source - see

Shotgun cartridges theft at clay shooting ground

SHOTGUN ammunition was stolen during a break-in at a clay pigeon shooting range in Lutterworth.

The theft happened between 5pm on Sunday, November 13, and 6.50am the following day, at the Spa Vale Shooting Ground off Coventry Road on the outskirts of the town.
A number of ISO containers in some fields were broken into and a large quantity of 12 and 20-bore shotgun cartridges were stolen from the safe.
Garden tools, batteries and a quad bike were also stolen.
PC Sarah Clarke said: “We have been carrying out extensive enquiries since the incident was reported to us and are now asking the public to contact us if they have any information about the incident or the stolen items.
“If anyone saw any suspicious activity in or around the range on the A4303 between the times of the incident I would urge them to contact the police. Any descriptions of vehicles or people seen in the area at the time could assist with our enquiries.”
Anyone with information can phone PC Clarke on 101, using ID number 4713 when prompted. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, which is free and anonymous, on 0800 555 111

(Reproduced from the Lutterworth Mail, 11th Dec 2011)

Gardien Comment: We can make no comment on the general theft but certainly the Quad Bike should be firmly fastened to either floor or wall and also Property Marked. See  

Man caught red-handed in crackdown on metal thefts

POLICE chiefs say a new crackdown on metal thefts in Bolton is paying dividends, after an alleged thief was caught red-handed. Police launched Operation Alloy to combat the growing problem of metal thefts and stop thieves from lining their pockets by selling on stolen metal.
The team was called to Nandywell, Little Lever, shortly before 1am on Wednesday when a neighbour saw a disturbance in the garden of a nearby property.
Police were quickly at the scene and a 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft, with officers also recovering metal that was suspected stolen.
He has been bailed until December 14.
Sgt Graeme Murrie, from the Operation Alloy team, said: “With Christmas coming up, and the nights drawing in much earlier, unfortunately there are thieves about who have no qualms about ripping the lead off roofs or raiding sheds just to get their hands on a bit of metal they can cash in.
“Anyone who has been a victim of this sort of Crime will understand just how frustrating it is. Stealing the lead from a roof leaves the home vulnerable to the weather, insecure and the homeowners are left with a feeling their home and their privacy has been invaded.
“This arrest shows just how much of a priority Greater Manchester Police takes metal theft and the quick response of the division meant not only were we able to catch this thief red- handed, but we also stopped them from making off with the metal and profiting from their cowardly and opportunistic actions.
“Thanks to Operation Alloy, we are continuing to make arrests, reducing the amount of metal stolen and bringing offenders to justice. Gradually the message needs to sink in to these criminals: if you want to steal metal, be prepared for the metal of police handcuffs.”
Operation Alloy involves specialist operations and neighbourhood policing officers being supported by engineers from telecoms, electricity, water and transport networks to recover metals thought to have been stolen from their networks and arrest anyone suspected of being involved.
Anyone targeted by metal thieves should call 101 or 999 in an emergency, or the Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

(Reproduced from Bolton News 11th December)

Gardien Comment: Don't attract trouble - hide away outdoor metal items wherever possible but property mark them if they are too big or awkward to be stored in a shed or garage. See and

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas tree theft warning from police

POLICE are hunting a gang who stole Christmas trees worth more than £5,000 – amid fears that it could be the start of a seasonal crimewave. Garden centres are being put on alert after thieves targeted two premises, escaping with almost 150 trees.
Police believe that the same gang is behind the thefts of 100 trees, worth £4,000, at a nursery in Titchfield and another in Wickham, where a further 49 trees were taken, valued at £1,800. Now they are warning other garden centres to be on their guard.
The gang of four broke into the Silver Springs Nursery and Garden Centre in Fontley Road, Titchfield, by cutting a fence.
They wrapped some of the spruces in netting before escaping in what officers believe were multiple vehicles.
During the raid the thieves also damaged three vehicles and took a trailer valued at £1,000 and a CR85 Honda motocross bike worth £1,000.
Officers are appealing for information about the incident, which happened between 3.50am and 4.50am on Tuesday.
The same night the gang then got into the car park of nearby Park Place Farm Nursery, in Titchfield Lane, by cutting the padlock before taking 49 trees.
Investigating officer PC Sarah Hall said that the trees would probably be sold in lay-bys or fields.
Call PC Hall on 101, or for those out of the area, call 0845 045 4545

(Reproduced from Southern Daily Echo, 1st Dec)

Gardien Comment: Christmas trees are just one of the targets at this time of year. Presents can often be stored in sheds or garages away from children's prying eyes so check out the security - the temptation to some is too great. See the advice at

Warning over shed bike thefts

POLICE are urging cyclists to be extra careful if they store their bike in a garden shed.
The warning follows recent thefts in Fishponds, where sheds without sturdy locks have been particularly targeted and bikes have been taken.
Inspector Graham Fox said: "We are currently investigating several incidents of theft of bikes in our area. We want to make people aware and urge them to think carefully about whether the security on their sheds and garages is adequate enough to deter thieves.
"Is your bike locked out of sight or can it be seen by passers-by? Does your shed or garage have a lock and is the lock strong enough? Is the bike locked up inside the shed or garage?
"During the last six months we have fitted ground anchors for victims of moped and high-value cycle thefts in the Hillfields and Fishponds areas, but they can be purchased from cycle and hardware shops and are worth the investment."
He urged people to register bikes on the property register

(Reproduced from Bristol Evening Post Dec 2nd 2011)

Gardien Comment: See the article on Bike Security at