It's not pretty but it's a sad fact: gardens are a source of rich pickings for thieves. It used to be just garden gnomes were stolen but now it's precious plants, garden tools, and children's toys. Not so surprisingly, thefts jump when the clocks go forward.
What to Do?
l. Lock up and put away your things
The obvious answer is the one that's not for lazy people. At the end of a sunny or hard working day in the garden put away tools, hide or cover bulky items (the barbecue), put up a good fence and get a good lock on the shed.
2. Change your plantings
This is more interesting and challenging. There are all kinds of shrubs and trees that have spines, thorns and prickly leaves. Although they will take some time to grow, they should deter even the most determined burglar. The nice thing is that bugs and birds like the plants too.
The English police have published a list of plants that will scare off thieves the natural way.
Creeping Juniper is a familiar hedge plant; it has long branches and a thorny stem and pointy needles (ouch). The Blue Spruce, also a familiar shrub has spiky needles too.
Don't forget good old Common Holly: nice dark leaves with pointy spikes. Firethorn - Pyracantha 'Orange Glow' - is lovely to look at but thorny to touch and can make a truly impenetrable hedge. As can Junipers and Purple Berberis and Mountain Pines.
If you want something prettier, Shrub Roses (Rosa Rugosa) grow like crazy, have sweet pale pink flowers and a very thorny stem.
Blackthorn - Prunus spinosa, also called Sloe, is spiny and dense. Even better, the berries in November can be made into sloe gin. The lovelyFuschia-flowered Gooseberry - Ribes speciosum has pinky flowers, is very hardy, and birds love it.
Other plants suggested are: Aralia, Chaenomeles, Colletia, Crataegus (including hawthorn/may), Hippophae (sea buckthorn), Maclura, Mahonia, Oplopanax, Osmanthus, Poncirus, Rhamnus, Rosa (climbing & shrub roses), Rubus (bramble), Smilax Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum).
The Police's advice warns "Hedges and shrubs in the front garden should be kept to a height of no more than three feet in order to avoid giving a burglar a screen behind which he can conceal himself."