East End rallies round Tom Gleed after his chicken shack is burgled 5 times

Fed up... Britain's 'Greenest Tenant' Tom Gleed's community garden raided by thieves yet again

Fed up... Britain's 'Greenest Tenant' Tom Gleed's community garden raided by thieves yet again - Credit: Poplar Harca

The community of London’s East End has rallied round to protect a public garden lovingly tended by Britain’s greenest tenant which has been raided by thieves for the fifth time.

Members of the local police liaison forum read in yesterday’s East London Advertiser about Tom Gleed’s community garden and chicken shack on Poplar’s Brownfields housing estate, next to the Blackwall Tunnel, being burgled on Monday when all his tools were stolen.

The heads of two local ward committees at Mile End and Bromley-by-Bow turned up at the community garden this-morning and presented Tom with a Smartwater kit to mark his property and are returning tomorrow to fix solar-energy security lights to deter intruders.

“We took a Smartwater kit to Tom as soon as we read in the paper about his latest break-in,” Mile End Panel chairman Andy Ager said.

“It’s a high-tech CSI-type deterrent which is an individually-traceable liquid that can be applied to almost any item of value to deter theft and to help identify culprits.

“The liquid leaves a unique, long-lasting ‘identifier’ that’s invisible to the naked eye, except under an ultraviolet light, and each batch has its own specific ‘signature’ that can identify the real owner.”

SmartWater kits have been distributed free to households in burglary hot-spots around Mile End and Bromley-by-Bow since the beginning of the year. Latest crime data shows a “substantial reduction of burglaries” in the area since then—despite the raids on Tom’s community garden.

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The solar security lights are also part of a community programme to protect vulnerable and isolated people which have received City Hall funding.

The 69-year-old retired ship’s welder said today: “I was over the moon when the neighbourhood people turned up and can’t thank them enough for their support. If anyone breaks in now, there is a high chance anything they steal will be marked with SmartWater and they can be brought to justice.”

The one-time amateur London youth boxing champ tends the garden 365 days a year—even through winter—where he also keeps rescued chickens.

Monday’s raid was the fifth break-in since Tom began working on the garden in 2010.

Tom was presented with his “Greenest Tenant in Britain” title in October by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, in the Chartered Institute of Housing awards, for helping to transform wasteland near the A12 Blackwall Tunnel Approach into a thriving, sustainable “people’s garden” and looking after it in all weathers.