RHS set to unearth the nations gardening knowledge with its first ever Dig Together Day (1,5 & 6 September)
Garden Thefts & Insurance Policies
Inspired by a thread on the Gardeners Calendar Social Network (shameless plug), I decided to investigate a news article in the Mail on Sunday, talking about the rise in Garden Thefts.
Having been a victim (by proxy) when my parents had a lawnmower stolen in the late 70's, I can remember, vaguely, how upsetting it was. The utter cheek of someone walking in to your private estate, well, back garden then, and removing a faithful and reliable workhorse. Actually, I seem to remember it as a knackered pile of rusty junk that never starting first time, and as not being very effective anyway, but that's besides the point. The utter indignation we felt that someone else would now be using 'our' lawnmower. We worried about how they would look after it, would they understand it's little niggles and fussy starting ritual? Then there was a possible sighting of the potential thieves, or was it just some ramblers wandering though the village, who cares, it was time to raise a 'posse' and hang them by their necks until they confessed. The initial anger turned into lighthearted amusement as the story of our theft was reported to friends and family over the next few months, and until this weekend I had relegated the event to the filling cabinet of memories only to be opened in the event of my impending death, some time in the very distant future.
I don't know why this article triggered the memories, and provoked the 'inner vigilante' in me but I felt a camaraderie for the one in seven homes to be targeted this year, and I wanted to do something to help.
As I read the article something else was niggling at me. Phrases like "Thefts from gardens have doubled in a year, says insurer RIAS, and this summer one in seven homes will be targeted.". RIAS Eh? "The typical loss is valued at £387, up from £305 five years ago." Wow! According to the 2001 Census, there are 22,539,000 households in the UK, if one in seven (3,219,857) make a claim that will cost the insurers £1,246,084,659. The article continues and points out the average contents in a garden shed has a value of £1,300! What? I went to have a look in my shed, and I totaled up the brand new retail cost of everything there, and including the shed, I could only get to £500. (For any potential 'Crims' out there I have now removed all the valuable contents of my shed and placed them in the bank for safe keeping. Oh, and the shed smells of cat wee too). So, to balance my pitiful shed value out, someone out there has a shed worth over £2000. That's and awful lot of spades and forks.
I investigated the claims of the article further and looked at the RIAS web site, and their press release section. The article was originally published in March this year and refers to it's sources as the Horticultural Trades Association, and Police statistics. RIAS Managing Director Janet Connor, goes on to urge members of the public to check their household insurance to make sure they are covered for any potential thefts. Ah Ha, I see the 'Sting' approaching. The press release goes on to mention ways in which you can reduce any thefts, and then tucked in at the very bottom of the release is a line saying; "make sure the appropriate insurance cover is in place – RIAS offers home insurance policy holders an additional product called Garden Secure which provides extra cover for the garden (details below)" ....and there it is. Yet another case of a news story being used to promote the release of a new product. Panic over.
I also saw a similar story on BBC Breakfast News this morning, it just goes to show the levels this sort of subliminal advertising can reach. I suppose this means the BBC is actually running adverts now. I have a naturally suspicious part to my character, some would even say it bordered on paranoia, and when I see news articles like this I suspect them for what they are, stealth advertising. I think promotional news articles need to be made more clear, some people can be upset by this type of scare mongering.
Oh, and just for completeness sake the "RIAS Garden Secure Policy" costs £28, and if all households take out a policy, that would give them a potential of £631,092,000 earnings. But, wait, didn't they say they would loose £1,246,084,659 in claims? Won't that leave them £615 million out of pocket? Either I have the business acumen of Alan Sugar, or some of the figures don't add up?