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Protect your property

Top tips for preventing crime involving sheds, garages, and homes 

Thieves rely on the fact that many people don’t secure their shed or garage in the same way they do their homes, often using an easy-to-break lock or padlock to protect valuable contents such as a car, bike or lawnmower. 

Taking the right precautions can go a long way in deterring criminal activity and keeping your property safe. We’ve teamed up with Cleveland Police’s Crime Prevention team to bring you some essential tips on keeping your property safe from burglars and thieves.  

We all want to feel secure in our own homes, but sadly, the reality is that break-ins and thefts can happen to anyone. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime. Take a look at our tips below! 

Securing sheds and outbuildings 

Check your insurance policy 

First off, check that your insurance covers the contents of your shed or outbuildings from theft. This can provide peace of mind and financial protection in the event of theft, so you don’t have to replace all of your tools and equipment out of pocket if they’re stolen. 

Think like a thief 

Look at your shed and consider how you would break in. It’s worth having a good padlock on the door with no exposed screws. Pay attention to hinges, as these are sometimes easily removable. If you have windows, then these could be vulnerable unless they’re secured with wire mesh or grills. Remember to always keep it locked. 

Alarm it 

Consider a battery-operated shed alarm. They look low-key, but they respond to movement or door contact with an extremely loud siren. 

Lock it, hide it or mark it 

An opportunistic burglar will also try a shed or garage first because they can often find the tools they need to break into the house. Don’t give thieves the opportunity or the tools to commit another crime. Lock everything away securely. Tools can be locked inside a locker or a box, or secured with a chain. 

Secure your bike to the ground or a lockable stand within a locked shed or garage. It’s always worth draping an old sheet or blanket over the top of mowers or bikes to keep them covered from view. 

Although it might sound obvious, never leave your garage or shed door unlocked if you’re not around. 

Property marking your items is advisable. Cleveland Police can assist with this using their dot peen machine.  

The top five most common items stolen from sheds are: 





gym equipment

Sports equipment

Power tools

Power tools

Gardening tools

Garden tools

Making your home less attractive to burglars 

Burglars are often opportunistic thieves who prey on houses and flats. They seek out any opening that they can take advantage of, specifically doors and windows that are left open, unlocked, or are easy to force.  

Anything of value that they might spot through a window will only spur them on. But it really doesn’t take much to deter these thieves – just smart thinking. 

Burglar facts 

  • Burglars target homes that they think will contain valuables. A sure giveaway is leaving packaging from expensive items outside your front door 
  • Burglars often look for homes with windows or doors left open or with vulnerable features that they can exploit 
  • Burglars are aware of the times when someone is expected to be away from their home, such as during the school run or holidays 
  • Burglars typically do not want to be seen or heard and may be deterred from targeting a property if they could be noticed by neighbours or passers-by. If they feel exposed, they are more likely to abandon their attempt and search for a less conspicuous target 
  • Burglars often choose a home because they’ve spotted a specific vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle they want to steal – and the keys are most likely to be inside the home 
  • Many burglars return to homes they have previously burgled, particularly if the target as not upgraded their security measures since the initial break-in. Sometimes burglars may revisit a neighbourhood to burgle a nearby home they spotted during a prior burglary. Even more reason for you to ensure you keep your home as safe as houses. 

The 10 principles of crime prevention 

Target hardening 

This means making it harder for an offender to access your property. You can do this by upgrading your locks, fitting sash jammers, and taking measures to secure your doors, windows, sheds, and outbuildings. 

Target removal 

This principle involves removing potential targets from view. It’s all about not leaving your valuables on display (including phones, laptops, bags), being cautious about what you post online, and putting your vehicle in the garage. You don’t want to make it easy for thieves to see what they can take.  

Reducing the means 

Avoid leaving tools and ladders in the garden, keep wheelie bins out of reach, and clear up any rubble or bricks around your home – any of these could be used to assist with breaking into a house.  

Reducing the pay off 

This means reducing the potential profit that a criminal could make from an offence. You can do this by security marking your property and not buying stolen goods. And if you do mark your property, make sure to do it in a way that others won’t want to buy from the thief.  

Access control 

Access control is all about controlling access to a location, person, or object. So, make sure to lock your doors and windows, and that boundaries such as fences and walls are in good repair. You don’t want to make it easy for offenders to get in. 


Surveillance is all about improving the visibility around homes, businesses, and public places. This can involve removing high hedges and fences at the front of your home, adding CCTV, or establishing a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your street. 

Environmental change 

Environmental change is another important principle. It involves making your property and wider community look cared for. This can include reporting fly-tipping or broken streetlights and working with the police and local authority to close footpaths. 

Rule setting 

Rule setting is all about changing our habits by setting rules and positioning signage in appropriate locations. For example, you could introduce a rule that the last person to leave the house locks the door and removes the keys. 

Increase the chances of being caught 

This is about increasing the likelihood that an offender will be caught to prevent crime from occurring. This can include installing dusk-to-dawn security lighting, good quality CCTV and/or alarm systems, and upgrading security to delay an offender. 

Deflecting offenders 

Deflecting offenders involves deterring an offender or deflecting their intention. You can do this by using timer switches to make your home look occupied if it’s vacant after dark. The police also support this by running youth diversionary schemes with partner agencies.