Updated: Jan 7
There probably isn't a single person in bonsai who goes to bed at night fearing that their bonsai will get stolen in the early hours of the morning, And unfortunately this is becoming a regular occurrence as bonsai becomes more popular, So what can we do to minimise the risk? Let take a look.
I say what can we do to minimise the risk because it seems no matter what we do if someone wants our trees they will make the effort to get them, if only these people applied this effort to something positive they might have a successful career. You could have a 10ft wall but they will bring a 10ft ladder, i have even heard of someone who build an entire steel cage around their collection and the thief's just cut it open with an angle grinder...
But this doesn't mean we cant make their mission as difficult as possible. Lets go over a few ideas to help minimise the risk of a theft from your garden and increase your chances of being alerted to an intruder.
SENSOR LIGHTS : We will start with something pretty basic which is sensor lights, now while these don't do anything to physically keep thieves outs they may deter some as they might not be sure if it is a sensor light or someone has heard something and physically turned on the outside lights to investigate. Otherwise it may light your yard up enough that it sets off the neighbours dog or it may even wake you up. For those who have security cameras sensor lights also make your video a lot clearer for the police to investigate and luck might have it that the person who stole your trees might be well known in the world of criminal activity's, having a nice clear picture of their face might be just what the police need to identify the suspect and hunt down your trees.
SECURITY CAMERAS : Much like the sensor lights the cameras can act as a deterrent for some criminals but for those more daring it will just provide you with footage of the night your trees went missing. now like mentioned above most criminals have been caught in some capacity or another and may be well known in the area or too local police so having footage and a clear image of their face might actually be the thing that gets you those trees back. Cameras can be expensive especially for good quality ones, i wouldn't suggest getting a cheap set as they wont provide a clear enough image anyway. If you can splash the cash you can invest in a similar system that we use here at Bonsai-En, Not only do the cameras capture footage but they also live stream 24/7 so i can always see the trees in 1 capacity or another, i even have monitoring next to my bed so if i hear a noise all i have to do is roll over and look at the monitor. But my system also has heat detection and motion sensors which can alarm back to my phone. These can be set to come on at any time you like so you don't get false alarms all day while your watering your trees.
GRAVEL : Gravel is great to have around your garden or benches if it is something you have the ability to do, gravel is almost impossible to walk on un detected, especially at night. In the dead of the night when every thing is quite 1 step on gravel sounds like it would wake up half the neighbourhood. This is a bonus if your trees are close to your bedroom window, it would be almost impossible for someone to enter your yard and leave quietly without waking you up.
TIE DOWNS : Now this serves 2 purposes, 1 it stops your trees from blowing off the bench in the event a sudden wind storm picks up ( which is every other week where i live ). 2 if the thieves are un aware you have your trees tied down this can delay their exit giving you more chance to become aware of their presence. I use nylon cord to tie my trees down with a hitch that requires you to pull on the cord to get it undone, this makes an unbelievably loud noise as the nylon slides across it self causing friction and vibration. Now i do understand this can simply be cut, but on the chance your thief came un prepared and didn't bring a knife or scissors the only way to get those trees off the bench is to pull the cord and wake you up.
GUARD DOG : I feel like this one is essential for all bonsai owners who have a decent backyard for a dog to exist in. Having a guard dog is probably your best protection, a barking dog will always wake you up and if the dog is nice and aggressive looking it acts as a very good deterrent. We have an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier x Neo Mastiff. She has a head like a helmet and can cross the nursery in 5 seconds flat. You would be cornered before you took 2 steps. You need to be smart with this though as some thieves may bait your dog if they are aware it is there. In our situation we have it so she can see them coming and bark to alert me, once i know someone is there we can then enter the garden together. We are also lucky that the place next door to us also have 2 dogs on duty at night so we have 2 sides covered.
GATE ALARMS : If your place has gates that you think the thieves may use to enter the property i would suggest getting a gate alarm that will sound if the gate becomes un hitched. This will pretty much make a thief leave 100% of the time because they are aware they just woke you up. It might be enough to make them not come back and try again as well because they don't know what other surprises you have for them.
LINE OF SIGHT : Keep your trees out of sight from public eyes, if your trees can be seen from the road thieves will know they are there, its like the old saying " out of sight out of mind ". This also helps narrow down who potential suspects might be if the worst does happen because they only people who know your trees are there are the people you have told. Unfortunately for me i advertise the fact i have trees been a Bonsai Nursery but i have most of these suggestions I'm making in place to ensure i have the best chance of catching a thief in the act.
I know this isn't a guide on how to guarantee your trees don't get stolen and trust me i wish i could write that for you, but hopefully you can take some of these ideas and implement them in your garden to at least ensure it isn't an easy in and out job for a thief if they do decide to target your collection.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey.