While crime rates in Portugal are generally low, it is a good idea to protect the investment that you have made in your garden.

Expensive patio furniture, heaters, barbecues, children's play equipment and ornaments left out on display can provide rich pickings for thieves and valuables such as patio furniture, barbecues and garden tools are on the most wanted list for an opportunist thief.

Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Lloyds Bank Insurance, says: "We know that the majority of thefts from gardens and sheds are opportunistic.

"When it comes to protecting our properties, homeowners must remember that what's on the outside also counts, so taking some small easy steps could help prevent having to stump up for lost garden goods should the worst happen."

Lloyds Bank Insurance offers the following tips for keeping your gardens safe:

Lock it up: Always ensure garden sheds, gates, garages and outbuildings remain bolted with a secure lock and make sure there are no gaps in fences or bushes for thieves to slip through

Put bricks or stones in the bottom of patio tubs to make them more difficult for would-be thieves to carry off

Tag it: Mark valuable items, such as patio furniture and ornaments, with your postcode, and keep photos of your garden valuables in case anything is stolen or vandalised

If you can't block access to you garden by locking a gate, high walls, spiky fences and prickly bushes can make it more difficult to get in

Create a noisy entrance: Filling your driveways or front paths with pebbles or gravel can help you to hear someone approaching your property

Avoid leaving tools, lawnmowers and bicycles in plain view in the garden - always lock them away out of sight. Remember tools and ladders can be used to break in too.