Beware this summer as opportunist thieves target sheds for valuables | Property | Life & Style

Britons have more valuables in their garden and shed than they realise, leaving them vulnerable to light-fingered villains.

The average garden shed contains tools and equipment worth £550, yet a third of owners admit to leaving theirs unlocked, according to research from M&S Home Insurance Premier.

Bushes, trees and shrubs can be worth more than you think, with the average garden containing £369 worth of plants.

Olive trees, box balls, bay leaf trees and hanging baskets are regular targets.

Paul Stokes, head of products at M&S Bank, said people often invest significant time and money in their garden:

“Half of homeowners do not know whether they have adequate cover for theft or damage and should check what is included in their policy details.”

Stokes recommended fixing a good quality lock or padlock on the door of your shed, and fitting a blind over the windows to keep contents hidden from view.

Lock up belongings such as barbecues, bicycles and garden tools in your shed overnight, he urged:

“Items left in the garden may not be covered for theft under the terms of your insurance policy.”

Installing automatic security lighting in your garden or planting a prickly hedge can help deter intruders, he added.

Sadly, household insurance cannot protect you against damage inflicted by that other unwelcome intruder: slugs.

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