Top quality patio furniture can be a big investment for a homeowner. Imagine the shock when you head out to your deck or patio, towel, book and drink in hand, only to discover that your brand new chaise lounge is nowhere to be found.

Sadly, theft of patio furniture is a reality in our society, more so than we would like to realize. Many of these thefts go unreported to authorities. Instead, the owner either purchases new furniture and accepts the loss or turns a claim into to the insurance company.

Patio furniture theft is worse in urban areas, where it's easy for criminals to see what neighbors have in their backyards. That's not to say, however, that the suburbs are immune. Far from it. In many cases, it's far easier to steal patio furniture from a quiet neighborhood where yards remain unfenced.

Even a relatively small purchase such as a plastic Adirondack chair can become a major expense if someone keeps stealing it in the night. At $20 a pop, a couple chairs can really add up.

Of course, things could be worse. Someone can make off with your barbecue, which can cost upwards of a thousand bucks or more to replace if you purchased a top of the line grill.

The easiest way to prevent theft is to lock patio furniture in place. While this seem like an obvious idea for someone who's going on an extended vacation or who winters in the south as a snowbird, it may not occur to the average homeowner who uses their patio furniture regularly.

But, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that is certainly the case when it comes to protecting your possessions from prying eyes and light hands.

Unfortunately, the furniture itself isn't really set up for anti-theft measures. Figuring out where and how to lock patio furniture can be something of a challenge. You don't want to immobilize it in place permanently, but you also don't want to make it too easy to steal either.

While no one can prevent a theft by a professional thief armed with a bolt cutter, you can deter the casual crook with some basic preventative measures.

The first line of defense is a plastic coated cable or chain. These can be purchased from any home improvement or hardware store. You will also need a good lock. Some people like the convenience of a combination lock while others like key locks. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. With locks that require a key, you may find that you left your keys in the house or that your wife has the key because she went to the store. Many people who use combination locks don't bother turning all the tumblers when they close them. A teenager can quickly figure out the combination just by moving the last tumbler one click forward or back. If you use a combination lock, be sure to mix all the tumblers up or you'll not only end up looking for your furniture, but your cable and lock, too.

There are also professional alarms you can buy that are made specifically for patio furniture and grills. Many models have a screech alarm that is not only intended to scare off the thief but let you know that someone is trying to steal your stuff. These are usually motion activated so if you have a problem with raccoons roaming around your yard at night, the alarm may be set off inadvertently.

When you secure your patio furniture, make sure it's to something that can't be cut or lifted easily. For example, it's not very tough for a crook to kick out a 2×2″ post on your deck. But a cable wrapped around a 4×4″ post can take a lot of work and deter the thief more easily.

You may also want to lock items up individually instead of all together. It takes more effort to cut five cables to get a table and chair set than to undo one that had been wrapped around all the chairs and table together.

Finally, be sure you take photos of your patio furnishings and keep the receipts from the sale. If your items are stolen and eventually recovered, you'll need to prove the recovered items were actually yours. You may also want to engrave/scratch your name and address into the furniture as an added identification measure.

Source by Jennifer Akre