British shed owners warned wire on windows could hurt burglars
Police have told residents to stop putting wire mesh on their garden shed windows – because they could be sued if a burglar is injured.
A spate of thefts in several towns and villages in Kent and Surrey over the past few months led to many householders taking action to protect their property.
Some have been warned by police that using wire mesh to reinforce shed windows was "dangerous’’ and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they "hurt themselves’’.
Thieves target sheds to steal lawnmowers, power drills, bicycles and a variety of DIY tools.
Thomas Cooper, of Tatsfield, Surrey, used wire mesh to protect three of his garden sheds after two break-ins over the past four years. He decided to take action after reports of a rise in garden raids in the area. Mr Cooper said: “I reinforced my shed windows with wire mesh, but was told by the police I had to be very careful because thieves can actually sue you if they get hurt. "It is ridiculous that the law protects them even though they are breaking it.”
Last month Samantha Cullum, a mother-of-three, of Brasted, near Sevenoaks in Kent, had her whole shed stolen when thieves lifted it on to a lorry. She said: “We had some tools stolen every now and again, but this time they took the entire shed – I couldn’t believe it.”
Dave Bishop, of Tatsfield, said: “The law is so stupid, and you never know what decision judges are going to make. People do get fed up with these people trying to help themselves to things which you have worked hard to gather together.”
Pc John Lee, a crime reduction officer for Tandridge, said: “We are constantly advising home owners to protect their property and the contents of their shed or garage, however, a commonsense approach needs to be taken. “To properly secure your sheds, Surrey Police strongly advises people to invest in items such as good-quality locks and bolts, and not to resort to homemade devices, as this could cause injury.”
A police source added: “Homemade devices can cause injury and there have been cases where criminals have sued for injuries they have suffered while committing a criminal act. "We are advising people to do whatever they can to protect their property, but wire mesh is not one of the suggestions we would make.”