Crime figures reveal rise in ‘barbecue bandits’ and ‘porch pirates’

‘Barbecue bandits’ are on the rise as thieves take advantage of a growing trend for garden gadgets, according to John Lewis.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales, published by the ONS (Office for National Statistics), reveals the number of thefts from outside people’s homes jumped from 483,000 in 2017 to 595,000 in 2018. Over the same period, domestic burglary actually fell 2% from 685,000 to 669,000.

Analysis by John Lewis Home Insurance shows the number of thefts from outside dwellings has risen by 23% in just 12 months. Stolen items include barbecues, lawnmowers, play equipment, tables and chairs, bikes, garden plants and even garden gnomes.

The figures also include the theft by so-called ‘porch pirates’ of parcels delivered to people’s front doors.

Former senior police detective Stuart Gibbon, who runs his own security consultancy business, said: “Garden gadgets are an increasingly attractive prospect for thieves. A high-end barbecue or a robotic lawnmower can cost a lot of money these days – but we don’t treat them with the same care as other valuables.

‘We leave them outside and unlocked in a way we would never do with a laptop or mobile phone worth the same value. We feel garden equipment is safe within the grounds of our house, but it’s not hard to move a lawnmower or even a barbecue on wheels.

‘It might be an inconvenience, but people should keep their garden equipment under lock and key when they are out – in a garden shed or fixed to something with a decent padlock to reduce the risk.”

John Lewis Home Insurance provides financial protection against loss or theft of garden plants, trees and contents in the open. This includes equipment, furniture and barbecues.

Mike Jackson, director of financial services at John Lewis & Partners, commented: “People should be able to enjoy their gardens without fear that their lawnmowers or barbecues might be stolen while their backs are turned. Unfortunately, these gadgets – and even potted plants or children’s slides – can be a target for thieves.

“We offer cover for garden equipment even if it’s not locked up because we know our customers value their outdoor space – and we hope this helps to offer them peace of mind to make the most of it and protect against ‘barbecue bandits’ this summer.”

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