Most plot holders manage to enjoy their plots without having their possessions and produce stolen and their sheds being broken into. Sadly, on occasions, our site has trouble.
In their much-loved movie, Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Wallace and Gromit have countless inventive ways to thwart a vegetable thief. The RAA is inventive too, but we’d be stretched to organize 24 hour monitoring of the whole site. Unfortunately the huge cost of CCTV installation is quite beyond our resources and probably always will be.
We don’t know if culprits are plot holders or people who illegally gain access. Please always ensure entrance gates are kept locked. Do not innocently let in people who claim to have forgotten the gate code. Ask for a name and plot number and decline entry if suspicion remains.
Here are some ways we can all minimise risk:
1Make sure that you have a locked shed, tool container or polytunnel. Consider having an inner lockable compartment for more valuable implements – or store them at home. Don’t fit a state-of-the-art lock to the outside of the compartment as this might signal to a thief you have expensive equipment inside.
2Do not to leave any valuables in the open on your plot when unattended and, when there, hang your coat, handbag, jacket, etc in an inconspicuous place – keep an eye on them.
3Consider painting your plot number or post code on all your tools and valuables to act as a deterrent and take home alcohol which people breaking into the site might be hoping to find.
4If you see anyone acting suspiciously, don’t challenge them but make sure they realise you have noticed them and report the incident to the site officers at your convenience.
5If you see unattended children or young people running around the site or over plots try to find out who they are and report it.
6Some people have had young fruit trees dug up. It has been suggested that paint markings on the bark may deter.
7If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a theft or vandalism it is important to report it to the site officers and to the police. The more often this occurs, the more likely it is that the police could take more active action if the site were to be labelled as a CRIME HOTSPOT.
8If you have household contents insurance, a policy extension can cover possessions you take away from home. Despite an increase in the premium this might be worth doing.
9Never be tempted to take produce from other peoples’ plots. You may be noticed and come under suspicion for bigger thefts. So don’t even take a few raspberries or blackberries.
10Some plot holders have had their possessions marked with Smartwater, which enables genuine ownership to be documented. The committee will explore with the company concerned what the cost would be for a collective bulk order for plot holders who may be interested and also with the police to offer their services to do this. The police can only act if there is a known suspect and they have done so a couple of times successfully where thefts have occurred. Any plot holder proved to be a culprit would be immediately expelled.
So – keep your eyes open and be careful to keep the site and yourself safe. Be especially careful in the very early morning or evenings when there are few people around.
Occasional stealing from plots on allotments has always been a problem. If it happens to you, many commiserations. It is a very mean thing for someone to do and is very upsetting to those who are victims.