January 2015 Crime Incidents
After a busy December with 4 crimes, January saw none at all until the last week when there were two cases of theft, one of diesel and another from a property. For a complete crime picture, please visit http://www.police.uk/ however, please be aware this information is always three months behind.
Theft of Diesel Oil – Manor Road
At some time between 18:00 on 23rd and 10:30 on 24th January, unknown suspects gained access to the farm by lifting a chained gate beside the road off its hinges and the tracks of their vehicle can be seen crossing the field to the farm shed and the adjacent fuel tank where the suspects unscrewed the lid of the tank and are believed to have syphoned out an unknown quantity of diesel used by the farm tractors, the syphon pipe was abandoned nearby.
[Note – a previous information release talked about securing oil supplies].
Burglary – Lexden Road
At some time between 21:00 on 27th and 10:30 on 28th January, unknown suspects gained access to a garage by unscrewing the hinges from the door, and removed a number of items.
[Note – this months first two information releases are particularly relevant to this type of crime].
A few interesting articles this month, a reminder that Garage & Shed security is important (tools can be used to break in to your house!), another burglary-oriented article written by ex-professional burglar Michael Fraser and an announcement of a new website to support victims of crime be they anti-social behaviour or much more serious.
Whilst most houses have adequate security what is often neglected is the shed or garage, “nothing much in there” I hear you say, “Just a garden spade and fork”, but these are perfect tools for burglar to use to get in your house. Adds insult to injury when the tool used to break into your house is your own, so give it some attention.
Garages and sheds by the nature of their construction and position especially when away from the house are always going to vulnerable. Quite often the supplied locks provide just the barest minimum security and are easily overcome so always consider supplementing the existing locks with further locking systems both for the doors and items within.
On garage doors this could be by adding locking bolts to both sides of the “up and over door” or a garage door defender in the ground in front of the door, if you have side door don’t forget this too. With sheds coach-bolt and plate the padlock hasp sections to the frame and door, use a good quality “Close Shackle” padlock; don’t forget the hinges ensure they cannot be unscrewed.
Consider using “Ground Anchors” or “Shed Shackles” to chain larger items to (again good quality padlock and chain); keep chains tight so that it is not in contact with a surface it can be struck against. Protect windows with a wire mesh and fit a curtain or white wash the windows to prevent prying eyes.
Visibly security mark your property with your post code and house number this reduces the value to the thief; you can even register serial numbers free of charge at www.immobilise.com . There are also a number of commercially available security marking systems available that are suitable for a wide range of products and others for specific products.
It is also worth fitting a shed alarm to the shed or garage, and adding security lighting these are relatively inexpensive and available from most DIY/hardware stores.
If siting a new shed where possible position it within sight of rooms in the house routinely occupied.
Author note: Michael Fraser is an ex-burglar, who starred in BBC’s ‘To catch a Thief’ and ‘Beat the Burglar’ as well as Channel 4’s ‘One last job’. He is also a trustee of the Apex Trust, which helps young people with criminal records gain employment.
When you’re thinking about how to make your home burglar-proof, you have to think like an opportunist thief, because a burglar will look for the tell-tale signs of weaknesses in your home.
Start with the front of your house.
If your gate is open or broken, an opportunist will see it as a weakness. It’s an invitation. Always close your gate. If it’s broken – fix it. And if you don’t have one, get one.
It’s the first psychological barrier to keeping a burglar away.
If you have just one cylinder lock on your door, a burglar knows he can get in to your home no matter what. If you have two locks on your door and your neighbour and your neighbour only has one, the burglar will very likely go next door. He’s not going to make more work for himself.
Avoid ‘Beware of the dog’ signs. They are a sure indicator that you don’t have an alarm in your property. A thief will also think that you probably leave your back door open to let the dog into the garden. The same goes for an ‘I love cats’ sign or something similar. Pet owners often don’t have an alarm.
If the front of your house looks weak to an opportunist burglar, he can guarantee that the back of your house will be even weaker. As soon as a thief can get around the back of your home, he knows he’s probably safe.
As soon as a burglar is in your house, whether he got in from the front or back, he’ll go to the front door with either a glass bottle or a broom. The thief will balance the bottle on the door handle. If the owner comes home, the bottle will fall off the handle and smash before they get inside. This gives the thief a warning sign and time to escape. Or he’ll jam the door shut with a broom. Again, this will give the intruder a sign and time to escape if the owner fails to get into their house easily.
Humans are creatures of habit, they inevitably keep their house and car keys near the front door or in their handbag; a handbag will nearly always be left in the kitchen. Once a burglar is in your house, he’ll look for keys first. Then he’ll be looking to find out what your habits are. Your calendar will be very useful. Again, we humans are predictable and almost always have a calendar hanging in the kitchen. The thief will look for key dates – when you will be on holiday, when you have a dentist appointment – any clues about when you’re scheduled to be out of the house.
The next thing on a burglar’s list is to look for small items – non bulky valuables that can be taken straight away. This might include jewellery, credit cards, bank statements and spare keys. The thief will make a note of all bulkier valuable items in your house – he’ll be planning to come back again to get these when he knows you’ll be out.
Now the burglar knows you. He knows what kind of person you are from the items in your house and he has your bank details to clone later. If the burglar has taken a spare set of keys to get into your house, he’ll normally trash it before leaving. When a homeowner returns to a messy house, they have to go through everything to see what’s missing. They’ll normally be concerned about expensive jewellery, antiques and items of sentimental value. Keys are one of the last things people think of and so often don’t realise they’re missing. So when a burglar returns to finish the job, it’ll normally be within 7 to 10 days of the first burglary and the locks have not been changed.
How can you prevent yourself from being the victim of a burglary?
Michael’s top tips:
- A key tactic in burglary prevention is avoidance and not just alarming your property. For example, chain up your wheelie bin to a fence away from you house. A burglar will stand on a wheelie bin to get into the first floor of your house. Furthermore, a wheelie bin is like a filing cabinet, so shred all your documents before you throw them away.
- Having two locks on your front door is really important and make sure your windows have window locks that are visible from the outside looking in. This will make your home seem like too much hard work to a burglar.
- Fix broken gates
- Put a wire basket on the inside of your letter box. There’s still space for letters to come through the door but it prevents burglars from fishing for keys through the letterbox – thieves know that keys are often left on a table next to the front door.
- Keep windows and doors shut and locked, even when you are at home. A thief will burgle your property even when someone is inside; for example, when they see a bathroom light go on.
- Use an alarm is you have one.
- Join your local Neighbourhood Watch and display the sticker saying you do. This demonstrates to the thief that you are aware of the risk of being a victim of burglary and he’ll most probably decide to move on.
- Don’t make it obvious if you are a pet-owner. ‘Beware of the dog’ often means “I don’t have a house alarm” or “my back door is open” in burglar language!
- When parking your car, turn the wheel towards the curb rather than keeping the wheels parallel. It sounds so simple but this makes your car alien to the opportunist thief because everyone parks their cars with wheels straight. Those turned wheels means it will take the thief a few more seconds to steal your car. Every second counts and they don’t want to take that extra risk of getting caught.
- Keep suitcases and bags in the loft or with their handles tied together. Otherwise a thief will use those very bags to transport items out of your home.
- Don’t keep a calendar in your home. It tells a thief everything about you. Put a blind in the kitchen and in other rooms so that people can’t see in. a thief can learn a lot about you just by looking in through your windows.
- One of the best things you can do is to film every room in your house in detail with a video camera or take lots of photos. Not only does this help you remember where everything was before the burglary but it helps you to prove to your insurance company that certain items were in your house.
Nick Alston, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex recently launched a new website, the Essex Victims Gateway.
The website offers access to the many local support groups for people who have been subjected to crimes ranging from rape to anti-social behaviour. Victims can simply type their postcode into the site’s search facility to find out more about the support available locally to them.
Alternatively people can click on a specific crime type – such as hate crime or anti-social behaviour – which will take them to a page featuring case studies, frequently asked questions as well as live links and contact details for support groups.
The Essex Victims Gateway helps victims find support tailored to their needs, including specialist services for the most serious crimes such as rape and sexual violence.
Crucially, the website offers help to all victims, including those who have not reported a crime to police or where offences have happened in the past. And the site also offers a “leave this site” tab, which runs through every page and, with the touch of a button, redirects users to Google in case they need to leave the page quickly.
Mr Alston said:
The Essex Victims Gateway provides a postcode based service enabling victims to contact support and advice available in their area. It’s been designed to enable people to rapidly find the information and expertise they need.
There is also a ‘Leave this site’ icon which is essential because there are circumstances where a person accessing the site may want to leave it quickly.
I hope that victims find this website useful but I also really hope they find the confidence to report crimes to police quickly.
Jan Dalrymple, Chief Executive of the Essex-based domestic abuse charity Safer Places, said:
I’m delighted the website has been pitched at victims whether or not they want to report a potential crime to the police.
Many victims do not want to report a crime and do not know where to turn, and the Essex Victims Gateway gives access for those hidden victims to receive support from specialist agencies.
For example, a person whose partner is showing early signs of dementia and is becoming violent, may not want to go straight to the police. Rather they want to have a confidential conversation about the options and support available to them.
Sometimes, we – the specialist agencies – may support victims to go to the police and report a crime, but sometimes we can support them without needing to involve the criminal justice system.
Victims frequently say to Safer Places and I’m sure other organisations: ‘We didn’t know where to go for help!’ I’m confident that the Essex Victims Gateway will help address those needs.
Work to develop the website and its content, in consultation with victims and their representatives, will be ongoing.
The government has decided that all victims’ commissioning funding should be controlled by PCCs from April 2015: a big and radical step. In preparing for this responsibility, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has produced a comprehensive analysis of the needs of victims and the services available to them at the moment across Essex. That analysis has supported the development of the Victims Gateway and can be read on the PCC here:
Keep informed about crime and policing issues which affect you by signing up to Essex Community Messaging – www.essex.police.uk/ecm .