Summer Crime Prevention advice from Thames Valley

Thames Valley Police have issued a shed load of crime prevention advice in the last few weeks, ranging rom keeping your garden tools safe, to what to do if you go on holiday, how to avoid the growing problem of number plate theft, and  a new malware threat to be aware of. 

Crime Prevention Advice

Summer burglary advice
Theft from vehicle
Crime prevention advice
Crime reduction advice
Sheds – Easy pickings?
Going on holiday?
Don’t give thieves shed loads of opportunities!
New malware threat
Theft of number plates

Summer burglary advice

Now the weather is brightening up and the sun is shining people become complacent when it comes to their home security. The most common cases of opportunist summer burglary involve offenders that:

  • enter an insecure front door while residents are in the back garden
  • enter doors that are closed but unlocked at night while residents are asleep
  • reach through windows to take valuable items

In around 25 percent of break-ins that take place in the spring and summer months, entry is gained through insecure windows and doors, especially at the rear of the property.

Within the useful documents to the right you will find resources that will help you with your activities. There is a sample action plan which can be tailored to your local situation with your local CRA.You will also find template letters along with advice leaflets and guidance sheets that can be given to members of the public.

For further advice, support and guidance on how to tackle local area issues contact your local CRA who will be able to assist you in your plans.

Theft from vehicle

Most offences of theft from vehicle are opportunist. If valuable possessions (eg, handbags, laptops, sat navs, iPods, mobile phones, cameras) are left on show inside a vehicle, it is much more likely to be targeted by thieves. Even items of little value, such as shopping bags and clothing, may tempt a potential thief to break into the vehicle to see whether they contain anything worth stealing.

Offences can take place during the day or night, whether a vehicle is parked in a driveway, on the street or in a public car park. Typically thieves will smash windows to gain entry; sometimes they will break door locks or, on older vehicles, prise the door away from the body of the vehicle.

The following sections contain crime prevention and reduction advice for motorists and car park owners.

Crime prevention advice

  • When leaving your car, close all windows and lock your car
  • Park your car in an attended car park
  • Look for public car parks approved by the Park Mark scheme
  • When parking at home, use your garage. If you don’t have a garage, park in a well-lit area
  • Don’t leave anything on display in your vehicle
  • Take all your personal possessions with you
  • Remove sat nav holders and visible sat nav ring marks from windscreens
  • Leave the glove box open to show there’s nothing inside
  • Fit an alarm or immobiliser to your car
  • Record the details of your property on the Immobilise website
  • Do not store your car’s documents in the car
  • Secure your wheels using locking wheel nuts

Crime reduction advice

  • Ensure that windows and doors are closed and locked when you are out. Don’t leave small windows open believing them to be safe.
  • If you want to leave windows open while you sleep, fit window restrictors so they cannot be fully opened, or make sure they are not large enough to allow access to a burglar.
  • When out in your garden ensure that windows and doors to the front of the house are secure. It only takes a second for someone to get into your home and take things without you noticing.
  • Do not leave valuables on display in front of windows or in reach of open windows or doors.
  • Ensure that all barbecue and garden equipment and tools are securely locked up in a shed and out of sight. Tools can be used by the potential offender to break in to your home.
  • Consider fitting outside security lighting or a visible alarm to help deter burglars. Even using pea shingle or gravel on a driveway and spiky plants in garden beds can help.
  • Don’t leave any keys near entry points where they can be ‘fished’ or ‘hooked’ out through the window, letter box or cat flap.
  • Ensure any internal handle operated locks on UPVC doors are fully secured with a key.

Sheds – Easy pickings?

Offenders see sheds as easy pickings because they are unprotected and lack basic security measures. The buildings often contain property that can be sold on or implements that can be used to force entry into the owner’s home.

  • Many sheds whilst being of good construction fall short on basic security.
  • It is easy to unscrew the ironmongery, steal contents and in some cases replace the screws to make it look as if the shed has not been tampered with.
  • By using tamper proof screws or coach bolts together with a good quality pad bar or hasp and staple and close shackled padlock, the shed owner will make it harder for the would-be thief.
  • It is also a good idea to bond any window glass in, with mastic to prevent easy removal.
  • Ensure all tools and equipment is locked away when not in use.
  • High-quality locks should be used on doors. Windows can be fitted with a grille or, as a cheaper alternative, chicken wire, to slow a thief down.
  • A shed alarm can also be installed.
  • Post-coding or indelibly marking all property such as lawnmowers, bikes, and tools using ultra-violet pens, forensic marking such as Selecta DNA or Smartwater or engravers.
  • Installing security lighting as a deterrent, and plants such as thorny shrubs to act as a barrier at potential access points.
  • If building a shed, putting it where it is most visible to you and neighbours.

Going on holiday?

  • Make your home look occupied.
  • If you’re out or going away, ask a trusted neighbour to open and close your curtains for you.
  • Ask a neighbour if they don’t mind parking their car on your driveway and trimming your garden to make your home look occupied.
  • Cut the front and back lawns before you go away and trim any plants that burglars could hide behind.
  • Cancel milk and newspaper deliveries.
  • Before your holiday, don’t advertise that you are going away on Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Register for the Royal Mail ‘Keepsafe’ service (opens new window).
  • Leave important documents and valuable personal items with other family members or a bank.
  • Double-check that you’ve locked all outside windows and doors.
  • Set your burglar alarm.

Don’t give thieves shed loads of opportunities!

Opportunist thieves identify sheds as easy pickings because they are unprotected and lack basic security measures. The buildings often contain property that can be sold on or implements that can be used to force entry into the owner’s home.

Many people fall short on basic security of their sheds.

Please make sure you:

  • Keep your shed in good condition
  • Fit a closed shackle padlock to the door
  • Fittings should be bolted through the door and any screws concealed
  • It is easy to unscrew the ironmongery, steal contents and in some cases replace the screws to make it look as if the shed has not been tampered with
  • By using tamper proof screws or coach bolts, together with a good quality pad bar or hasp and staple and close shackled padlock, the shed owner will make it harder for the would-be thief.
  • Bond any window glass in with mastic to prevent easy removal. Fit grilles or mesh to windows to slow down the thief.
  • Ensure all equipment and tools are locked away when not in use
  • Install a shed alarm
  • Post-code or mark all property such as lawnmowers, bikes, and tools using ultraviolet pens, forensic marking such as Selecta DNA, Smartwater or engravers.
  • Install security lighting as a deterrent, and plants such as thorny shrubs to act as a barrier at potential access points
  • If building a shed, put it where it is most visible to you and neighbours
  • Ensure ladders are locked to a secure fixture in the shed or garage so they can’t be used to reach top floor windows
  • Chain large items such as bicycles together, making it much more difficult for a thief to carry away
  • Fit a wire cage inside the shed where more expensive items can be locked away.

No thief wants to hang about longer than they have to so delay the time it will take them to get their hands on your tools.

New malware threat

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has issued a warning and guidance about a new global online threat in the form of two malware viruses.

Malware is used by cyber criminals to commit theft, fraud and identity fraud against individuals and businesses by infecting their computers.

The latest threat is in the form of two different types of malware known as Gameover Zeus and CrytoLocker which will infect computers via phishing emails.

There is a list of free tools which have been specially developed by internet companies which will scan your computer for the viruses and remove them.

For more information about the malware viruses and advice about how to protect your computer against them visit the Get Safe Online website.

Get Safe online website.

Theft of number plates

Stolen plates are used by criminals to change the identify of a car, to disguise cars that are used to aid criminal activity and to evade congestion charges, parking and speeding fines.

The following prevention/reduction actions and advice will assist police and partners to reduce the potential risk of crime and prevent members of the public from becoming victims.

  • Park your car in a garage at night or park to prevent access to either front or real number plate
  • Park in a safe public car park
  • If parking on a public road, park in a well-lit spot
  • Secure your Number Plate with “Number plate security fixing screws”.  Sometimes known as “Clutch head screws”, these screws are specifically designed to be virtually impossible to remove once they have been fitted.  These screws can be obtained from vehicle auto centres such as Halfords or by searching online suppliers such as www.redlinesecurity.co.uk
  • If replacing your number plate or buying a new car consider asking forresistant number plates, which are designed to break apart if they are forcibly removed from a vehicle www.secureplate.com

If your number plates are stolen, contact Thames Valley Police immediately on 08458 505 505.  It may seem trivial at the time but not when you receive a fixed penalty notice or you are suspected of having committed a crime.

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