Do you know what the most stolen item is? Here’s a clue - it’s not a hedge!

PUBLISHED: 20:00 15 January 2019

The gap where there should be a hedge in Church Road, Tostock Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI

The gap where there should be a hedge in Church Road, Tostock Picture: MARIAM GHAEMI


Stealing hedges can be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what thieves will take, as Lynne Mortimer discovers.

A glacier in Chile... probably not the one that was stolen. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoA glacier in Chile... probably not the one that was stolen. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Who, for goodness sake, would steal a hedge growing in someone’s garden? Someone did, making off with 12m of greenery from a garden in Tostock, near Bury St Edmunds.

It will not surprise you to learn that hedges do not crop up (no pun intended) as one of the items most commonly stolen in domestic burglaries... if indeed taking a garden hedge qualifies as a burglary. Apparently, the most stolen food item in the world is cheese. Yes, cheese.

Think back to Pepy’s diary. His entry for the day the Great Fire of London ravaged the capital in 1666, tells us that he wrapped up his Parmesan cheese and buried it in the garden to ensure it came to no harm. Today, Parmesan is still a high-value cheese. A whole 36-month aged Parmesan weighing 39kg might set you back £994.50... mind you, it would last a lifetime methinks.

The theft of hedges is not without precedent. In August 2016 a couple in West Sussex had 30ft of laurel hedge stolen from the front garden of their home. The owners, like those in Tostock, were baffled. But the cost of a mature hedge might make the theft understandable. A 225-250cm laurel hedge plant with an eight-year-old root ball costs around £75. Hedge heists, therefore, might be quite a nice little earner - even if the incidence is, happily, infrequent,

An inflatable gorilla like the one stolen - no-one noticed because it had a tendency to deflate Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoAn inflatable gorilla like the one stolen - no-one noticed because it had a tendency to deflate Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Looking at the more usual proceeds of crime the 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales show that in that year burgled items were:

• Jewellery (including watches): stolen in 43% of burglaries

• Purses, wallets, or cash: 38%

• Computers (mostly laptops): 34%

• Cameras, MP3 players, TVs, stereos and other electrical equipment: 19%

• Mobile phones: 13%

• Clothes: 9%

• Food, perfumes, cigarettes: 8%

• Bags like purses or briefcases: 8%

• Furniture: 6%

• Documents like passports, and financial information, house keys or car keys: 5%

Shoplifters in the UK meanwhile, according to go for:

1. Alcohol, mainly well-known spirits, beer and cider.

2. Cosmetics, perfume, makeup, lotions, hair treatment, shampoo, skin creams, and sun-tan lotion.

3. Razor/ shaving requisites - this was no 1 for many years but is falling down the rankings due to new security systems and display limitation.

4. Clothing accessories, handbags, leather goods, earrings, scarves, etc: often small expensive and very desirable things.

5. Coffee (in other countries, coffee and tea).

6. Meat and cheese with growing interest in the more expensive cheeses.

7. Electrical goods and accessories such as, headphones, data sticks, toothbrushes, electronic medical equipment, batteries.

8. Smartphones, iPhones

9. Jeans, branded items, childrenswear, men and women’s clothing

10. Sport fashion, branded items, trainers/sports shoes, club strips.

Then there are the more bizarre items:

• A 10-ton bridge was stolen from the Czech city of Slavkov by thieves who said they were hired to demolish it. They dismantled the whole bridge and 650ft of track and sold it for scrap metal.

• In 2013, 11,000lbs of Nutella, (cost approx $20,000( was stolen from a cargo truck in Germany. It was speculated that the theft was related to other food thefts in the area, including coffee and Red Bull.

• Thieves in Ukraine forged documents and convinced guards at a railway museum in Donetsk that they were moving one of the museum’s trains to another location. The 1924 train was then sold for scrap.

• A man in Chile stole five tons of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier in 2012, intending to sell it in bars as ‘designer’ ice. Police seized his refrigerated truck and the man was charged with theft and violation of a national monument.

• In Simi Valley, California, in 2010, a car dealership was robbed of its 350lb inflatable mascot gorilla. As it had a tendency to deflate no one noticed it had gone until someone climbed on to the roof.

• In 1990, in Los Angeles 300 hefty manhole covers were stolen across the city. It turned out that the manhole thief was selling the covers for $6 a piece to scrap metal dealers.

Have you had anything strange stolen? Share your story.

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