Worrying Times on the Plot

My allotment shed - in warmer and sunnier times

This week my plot's shed was one of 13 broken into, which now means there's 13 unsolved crimes added to our local police's statistics.

The first I heard about it was on Wednesday when I was telephoned by the local police. It was snowing at the time, so I wasn't able to get up there until yesterday to see what had happened.

As I suspected, I was lucky. I don't keep anything up there I would miss if it was taken, so all I had to do was close the door. Sadly my new allotment neighbours' spanking new shed had a neat hole where the padlock had been torn off. They weren't there at the time (no-one else was either) so I don't know if they or anyone else had anything taken.

We've not had a break-in for a few years and the colder, darker days means our site like so many others was less attended than usual. It must have been far too tempting a site for anyone looking for valuables to enhance their Christmas season. I wonder if the hard financial times means we'll see much more of this in future?

The topic of allotment vandalism was on Gardeners' Question Time recently (it's around 29 minutes and 45 seconds in on the link) and much was made about keeping sheds well padlocked. I don't do that because I believe it advertises there might be something inside worth taking. I won't be taking Bob Flowerdew's advice re growing something thorny round the door either, as I'd probably come to more harm than any thief!

What do you do to keep things safe on your plot?


  1. On our plots there is a big, tall gate that gets shut at dusk. I'm not 100% sure of the history, but think it was put in after thefts.

    This can be annoying when I want to harvest in the winter, but there isn't any theft.

    I have a google alert on 'allotment' and there is theft stories very regularly. Sign of the times maybe.

  2. So sorry to hear that your and fellow allotment members' sheds were broken into. I understand your point regarding the lock, as one could then presume there is stuff there worthy of stealing. Also, not keeping valuables in there is difficult as any good tool really is quite an investment and a loss if stolen! Perhaps the council could provide some kind of camera surveillance?

  3. Sorry to hear about the break in, it's worrying even if nothing was taken as you wonder if there will be a next time. To lock or not to lock? I've been thinking on that myself as I hope to put up my shed next spring. I really want to be able to leave tools in it so I don't have to keep cycling stuff to & from with the bike trolley, which depends on my partner as it only works with his bike. Your point about not locking is a good one. But then, we have homeless people that turn up in sheds on our site (poor things, must be freezing) and the Committee want us to lock them. The lottie conundrum of our times...

  4. This is a big worry for me VP, not least because I keep poultry on my plot too.

    Our site has one or two 'rogue' members who have often been blamed for things disappearing which adds to the insult!

    I've been considering buying one of those motion activated trail cameras, hidden somewhere strategic, to at least catch any potential thief in the act and get my goods back.

    If anyone's interested the link is here...


  5. I'm so sorry to read this but we have the same problem here.Even out here in the countryside. People just cannot seperate "what is mine and what is yours"

    Greetings from a rainy Vaxholm/ Tyra

  6. I was sorry to hear this but glad you didnt have anything stolen. We arent allowed sheds at the moment but there is a move to apply for planning permission. I have to say that even if we were given it I dont think I will get a shed as I think it will just attract trouble. The old site had its shed set on fire a few years back which was apparently very distressing for the owners

  7. So sorry to hear of the break-ins, though pleased that you suffered no loss. My little plot is in the front yard, so it's easier to put away what tools i do have. Since it's so small, my good tools are portable enough that they come inside. The only thing i practice to discourage thievery is not planting up to the fence line. I don't want it to be easy enough to just reach over the fence & snatch veggies. Being of a more paranoid stripe, i wouldn't want to be up on the allotment without much company. Solitary gardeners are much more of a target (occasionally such issues pop up when people visit graves in more urbanized areas).

  8. Sorry to hear about the break ins. My plot is a council plot and no sheds or green houses are allowed. They have put in one of the containers off a truck and all the plot holders have a key, but it does mean that anyone can use your tools so I bring mine back and forth with me.

  9. That's so unsettling to have happen. Every spring thieves seem to dig and steal shrubs and perennials from public spaces and even a few private gardens. It feels bad anytime but, Christmas makes it feel even worse. xogail

  10. That is horrid - what is the matter with people that they do that? Thankfully I dont have a shed for exactly this reason, but I have had produce stolen - most recently the celeriac and red cabbage!

  11. Second one. A North German blog tells a similar sad story. Winter, no one there ...

  12. It's disturbing when your property is violated. I have a small padlock on my shed to deter the opportunist. But lets face it, on most garden sheds if someone wants to break in, they only have to put a sturdy screwdriver behind the hasp and give it a good yank.

  13. What a shame...

    It's a dilemma, really - sheds are so easy to break into, there's almost no point adding a heavy-duty lock. I'd just transport useful / valuable stuff like tools, I'm afraid, and use the shed for really exciting things like old flowerpots and half-finished bags of compost...

  14. Sadly incidents of theft and vandalism happen regularly on allotment sites. What is more disconcerting is when it seems that the crime has been committed by a member of the allotment community :( Our security has been improved by the council over the last year by the erection of steel mesh fencing around each plot. This is ugly but seems to be effective security wise. Has some other advantages too - excellent support for climbers. Our local police station has a set of keys for the main gate should trouble ever be reported by neighbours. Glad that you were lucky VP. I remember how horrible it felt when my lottie lean - to had windows smashed in and shed door was trashed :(

  15. We had a couple of things stolen from an outbuilding with a badly fitting door several years back, and I will mention what the investigating officer recommended to us. More than one padlock. Just the one is very easy to take a wrecking bar and lever off (although not mine anymore, the bolts go all the way through a steel door,) whereas a couple will at least slow the culprit down, and may make them think twice. You can get locks all keyed the same so it's not too much of an extra hassle.

  16. We have the same problems here in Seattle with our local version of allotments. People have even reported plants and pots being stolen out of their gardens. I once had a sundial on a short pillar (not exactly light!) stolen from my front garden. It is sad that people steal, but the senseless vandalism is something I just don't understand. I hope your allotment isn't hit again!

  17. Jono - ours is a farm gate so fairly easy to scramble over. I wonder whether we'll get something a little more secure as a result of this. I too have an 'allotment' Google Alert :)

    Petra - a nice idea but I suspect that'll be too expensive a we'd also have to get a power supply - unless there's a solar powered version?

    Gwenfar - I wonder how many sites have homeless people seeking shelter? I've not come across that one before, but I wonder if it'll increase over the next couple of years...

    Chris - we're not allowed animals (except bees), but I can see how that would be a worry for you :/ I must have a look at those cameras - thanks for the link!

    Tyra - lovely to see you! I'm sorry this is a problem in Sweden too :(

    PG - I was more worried about vandalism than having anything taken. My shed might be rickety, but I'd hate to lose it

    Petoskystone - I'm quite often up at the plot on my own and I love having the site to myself!

    The Cookie Jar - hello! We have a communal shed too which used to house our communal rotavator and strimmer, but they were stolen twice, so these items were relocated to another (more secure and popular) site. The communal shed now stands empty.

    Gail - it seems stealing plants is an international problem :/

    Zoe - produce going seems to be an increasing problem too :(

    EE - so we have it happening in the UK, USA, Sweden and now Germany :(

    Dobby - exactly. I believe padlocks give a sense of false security as the wood surrounding them can be so easily broken

    Bean Genie - there's so much stuff in it, my car is like a portable shed!

    Anna - the police said they have a good idea of who it is, but without proof they can't make an arrest

    RoseHawke - welcome! I understand your reasoning, but I believe 3 padlocks on my rickety shed would just mean it would get smashed to pieces.

    Kath - it seems to happen every couple of years or so. It's more of a problem in city areas, but I do wonder whether we'll see an increase in view of the economic times :(

  18. We've had a spate of break-ins, apparently in search of scrap metal. This has included taking fittings off the water tank! The correlation may be with recession but equally likely to be the price of scrap metal. Whatever, it's a pain. We've mended the hasp on the padlock twice, but it makes no difference. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder whether just leaving the door open would be cheaper.

  19. Colleen - I hadn't thought of the scrap metal angle. My only worry with my approach is if they were intent on vandalism, they'd strew everything on the plot. But then they'd probably do that if it was padlocked too,


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