It is a fact that keeping windows and doors of houses, sheds and garages locked and secure significantly reduces the chances of being burgled – Lock up and keep safe.
Items stolen as a result of insecurities tend to be smaller things such as cameras, laptops, and mobile phones from houses, or tools, cycles and lawnmowers from sheds or garages.
It’s tempting at the end of a relaxing day in the Summer to leave items out such as games, BBQs, garden furniture, toys, and bicycles. These items are attractive to thieves and costly to replace. A few minutes packing up the garden could prevent later inconvenience and expense.
Friends, family, and neighbours should keep an eye on the elderly and/or vulnerable to prevent them becoming victims of distraction burglars or rogue traders – If in doubt, keep them out.
Basic security steps to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of opportunist crime are listed below.
- Keep locked and secured by a decent lock which is ‘Secure by Design’ rated.
- Ensure security markings are recorded and photos of the caravan taken.
- If possible, park them under lit areas and consider CCTV.
- Strongly recommened - have tracking devices fitted, as these can result in prompt recovery
Other useful tips to consider include:
- Use locking wheel nuts and a good quality clamp on the wheels
- Do not leave expensive personal belongings inside and ensure they lock them on site when out for the day also. If out for the evening, consider leaving a light and or radio on, to make the place look occupied.
- Consider the use of shed alarms which are relatively inexpensive easily available at hard ware stores yet provide a good deterrent.
Site owners, are urged to review their site security and consider such things as CCTV, barriers, lighting, ditches around the perimeter to prevent access via fields, regular patrols around the site, particularly after dark to ensure security is maintained.
If anyone sees any suspicious activity on a caravan site they should try and obtain descriptions and vehicle registrations.
For further useful tips please download this leaflet <here>.
Cash Point (Skimming)
Please be on your guard when withdrawing money from of cash points and think security when withdrawing money, paying attention to the advice on the machines.
There are a number of simple steps, which all cardholders can take to help fight ATM crime.
- Scan the whole ATM area before you approach it. Avoid using the ATM if there are suspicious-looking individuals around.
- Check to see if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the ATM showing it might have been tampered with.
- If it appears to have any attachments to the card slot or key pad, do not use it and if possible alert nearby staff or call the police.
- Stand close to the ATM and shield the keypad with your hand when keying in your PIN to prevent a camera or prying eyes obtaining those details
- If your card gets jammed or retained by the machine report this immediately to your bank or building society, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine.
- Check that others in the queue keep a good distance from you. If anybody is standing so close to you that they can see your hands, then don't enter your pin number. Trust your instincts and, if you feel uncomfortable, discontinue the transaction and walk away.
- Keep your PIN secret. Never reveal your PIN to anyone, not to someone claiming to be from your bank, the police and especially not to a "helpful" stranger.
- Try and make sure that the number is kept private and be swift to remove both the card and money when they are returned to you.
- Be especially cautious if strangers try to distract you or offer to help at an ATM, even if your card is stuck or you are experiencing difficulty with the transaction.
- Regularly check your account balance and keep your receipt to check against your statement.
Please call the police immediately using 999 if you see anybody acting suspicious near ATM machines.
Or please use the following link to pass useful information to Suffolk Police about any incident.
DO NOT USE THIS LINK IN AN EMERGENCY OR IN A SITUATION THAT REQUIRES AN IMMEDIATE POLICE RESPONSE WHEN YOU SHOULD RING 999.
The following tips will help you to stay safe:
- Keep all doors locked at all times, even when you are in. Keep windows secure and don’t forget to shut and lock them when you go out and at night. Always make sure that you have a fire plan so that everyone in the house can get out in the event of a fire.
- If you are not expecting or don’t recognise a caller, think very carefully before you open the door. It is your home and you are not obliged to open the door.
- If you do decide to open the door, make sure that you check through the viewer before hand and use the door chain.
- Always insist on seeing a photo ID card. Before you decide whether to let them in, don’t be afraid to ask them wait outside while you independently check their identification. Don’t rely on the number on any ID card produced – always find a number yourself that you know to be genuine (ie from a utility bill, bank statement etc). Genuine callers will not mind waiting.
- If you see or hear anything suspicious, please call police immediately on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Whilst you may have refused to let a suspicious person in, the next house they call at may contain a vulnerable person who is not so aware of the potential danger.
Download this leaflet for additional information: Cold Callers Leaflet
Cyber bullying is when an individual or a group of people use modern technology such as email, instant messaging, text messaging or social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, to intimidate and bully someone. For the victim, cyber bullying can be abusive, causing distress humiliation and embarrassment.
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims. They can ask others to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or forward something embarrassing onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people do not even realise they are actually bullying someone.
If someone is bullying you on your own social profile page, there are tips you can follow, which if necessary can help the police investigating these types of offences:
- Keep and save any bullying emails or images you have been sent.
- Take a screenshot of any comments that are threatening, but then delete them so you don't have to read them again.
- Make a note of the time and date that messages or images were sent, along with any details you have about the sender.
- Try changing your online user ID or nickname.
- Do not reply to any bullying messages or get into any online arguments.
Remember to lock your pedal cycle to something secure when leaving it unattended – even for short periods of time. Don’t leave your bike lying around your garden – they make an easy target for thieves – lock it away in a secure shed, or similar.
- LOCK – Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.
- STOP – Before you answer the door, stop, and think if you are expecting anyone. Check that you have locked any back door and taken the key out. Look through the spy-hole or the window to see who it is.
- CHAIN – If you decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first. Keep the chain or bar on while you are talking to the person on the doorstep. (Normally when the door is shut and locked, leave the chain or bar off in case you need to get out in an emergency.
- CHECK – Check their details and identity before you let them into your home. If it is someone looking for help only go out to help if you have someone else with you. If it is someone claiming to be an official, ask for and carefully check their identity card, make sure the caller’s name and picture are the same as on the identity card, even if the visit is pre-arranged. Check their identity with the company concerned if you are at all suspicious.
The most common tricks used to get into peoples homes are:
- Claiming to be from the water or gas board, charity, council or police
- Asking to use the toilet or telephone
- Claiming to have lost a ball in the garden
- Offering to do work on the house, such as gardening or building work
These are Suffolk Police’s top 10 tips to help prevent burglary:
- Prevent access to rear of property (eg high lockable gates-walls, fences).
- Fit British-standard five-lever Mortise locks (or UPVC equivalent) to all external doors.
- Fit (and use) locks to all ground-floor windows and remove keys from locks.
- Rear garden fencing/walls should be approximately 6ft, preferably with additional topping (eg trellis or plastic strips with conical points to make climbing difficult). Homeowners should pay particular attention to fences and walls that adjoin alleyways, footpaths or open land.
- Reduce cash kept in the house to a minimum and ensure good quality jewellery is not left in jewellery boxes or dressing tables.
- Security mark (with house number and postcode) desirable items (eg flatscreen televisions, laptops, mobile telephones and games consoles) and record details and photograph for reference in the event of theft.
- Fit additional padlocks and hasps on garage doors-ensure no tools left out and garages and sheds locked.
- Do not hide spare keys unsecured outside properties.
- Use timer plugs to give the impression property is inhabited when empt
- Consider fitting a burglar alarm as a back up.
Members of the public are being urged to increase their vigilance around home and vehicle security.
Dark evenings can provide the perfect cover for burglars but by carrying out a few simple crime prevention steps, householders and motorists can thwart opportunist criminals.
An online suite of bespoke, easy to follow crime prevention documents are available to view and download on the constabulary’s website for free. Visit: https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z
Anyone with information about thieves operating in their area should contact Suffolk police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
- Lock all doors and remove the keys before leaving the house.
- Keep front doors locked even when you are at home and especially if you are in the back gardens.
- Close all windows fully before you leave the house, lock downstairs windows and remove the keys.
- Use window limiters to allow air in instead of keeping windows fully open, even when you’re at home.
- Install window locks on upstairs windows that can be easily accessed by a flat roof.
- Lock back gates using a sturdy lock such as a closed shackle padlock to no less than CEN 3-4 security grade or 5 lever lock.
- Make your home look lived in – use timer switches if you’re not home.
- ‘Dusk-to-dawn’ sensored security lighting is a cheap, low cost way of making sure the front of your home or shed/outbuilding is well-lit.
- Visible burglar alarms can make burglars think twice; get specialist advice and consult your insurance company.
- You could also consider installing a doorbell camera in order to potentially film an opportunist burglar in action.
- Hedging and shrubs to the front of your property should be pruned to no higher than 1m and trim trees up from the ground to 2m. This will allow a clear line of sight across your property and will stop the garden being used as a hiding place.
- Keep your valuables, jewellery, cash, passport and deeds to your property in a safe.
- Never leave spare keys in an open place. Be aware, burglars know all the usual hiding places so never leave a spare key under the doormat or under a garden gnome.
- Keep dustbins and wheelie-bins away from fencing/gates as these can be used by thieves to climb into windows or used to escape.
- Make sure valuables are property marked. Take photographs and keep a note of any serial numbers.
- Don’t leave equipment and tools lying around that can be used by burglars to break into your home, such as hammers, shovels or gardening tools. Keep ladders locked away and out of sight.
Leaving your house in total darkness is a sure sign no-one’s at home and an invitation to burglars.
Burglars look for quick win opportunities; they don’t want to run the risk of a confrontation so simply leaving a light on to give the impression someone is at home is often enough to deter them. Timer switches can also be fitted to operate radios and lights if you’re not back from work until after dark or if you’re away for a few days. Leaving a light on costs literally pence in electricity – and that pales into insignificance compared to the hundreds of pounds in insurance excess you might have to pay should your home be broken in to.
A high proportion of all break-ins are as a result of properties being left insecure so checking all windows and doors are locked before leaving the house is crucial.
Other home security essentials are to use your burglar alarm if you have one – it’s amazing how many households don’t bother – and also to never leave a spare key under the doormat or a flowerpot. Burglars will always look there first so it’s not much of a ‘hiding place’.
- Stay alert and aware of what's going on around you when using your phone in public.
- If you're not making a call, keep your phone hidden away in one of your front pockets or inside a bag.
- Always use your phone’s security code or PIN
- Keep a record of your unique reference number (IMEI). To get this, dial *#06#, which allows you to block it from being used if it is stolen.
- Download a tracking application, which could help trace your device if it’s stolen.
- Use an ultra violet property marker to write your post code and house number on valuable possessions.
- Insure your possessions and keep the insurance details handy.
To help prevent personal theft:
- Carry wallets in an inside pocket, where possible, but never in your back pocket.
- Zip up hand and shoulder bags, and carry with the fasteners against your body to prevent a thief from dipping into it.
- Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm, or in front of you.
- Don’t display jewellery.
- Don’t show your money — keep it safely in your pocket.
- Never leave your bags or other valuables unattended.
- Ensure any bags placed on the on the floor are in front of you so that any movement of the bag will be noticeable.
Your ten tips for staying safe:
- Think through your route
- Personal attack alarms are cheap, reassuring and effective
- Keep to well-lit, busy areas and avoid short cuts
- Keep valuables tucked away out of sight
- Accept the offer of company from a relative or friend – ‘safety in numbers’
- Stay alert to your surroundings and avoid wearing earphones
- If you hear footsteps behind you, turn and look. It may deter a potential attacker if they know they have been seen
- If you feel you are being followed, cross the road or change direction towards a busy place
- Walk towards on-coming traffic and don’t approach an unknown vehicle if it stops near you
- Always ensure that there is someone who knows where you are.
- Don’t forget to lock your car doors, close windows and secure your sunroof – and never leave your keys in the ignition.
- If you have a garage, use it - but still lock your vehicle. If you park on a driveway or on the street, try to ensure it is in a well-lit area.
- Activate your steering lock and use a visible mechanical lock inside your vehicle – it may deter the thief from even trying. Consider having an anti-theft device, an engine immobiliser or alarm fitted, preferably with a visible warning light to warn thieves that your car is protected.
- Don't leave valuables or other items on view in your car. A handbag ‘hidden’ under a seat or a mobile phone left on the dashboard are an easy target. A coat or newspaper on the back seat could be hiding something – an opportunist thief will break in to take a look.
- Try not to leave anything of value in your vehicle, even for a short time. Take the items with you or leave them at home.
- If your car is fitted with a removable radio or front plate, remember to take it out, and if you have a satellite navigation system don't leave the docking station on the windscreen as this advertises the fact you have the system. The thief will break in and check the glove box thinking that you may have left it in there.
- Security mark all your audio equipment with your postcode. Have index marks or vehicle identification numbers etched on all glass surfaces.
- Don’t leave documents that may aid the thief, such as your driving licence, MoT and insurance certificate in your vehicle.
- Thieves steal wheels, especially expensive alloy ones, valuable parts, and even siphon off fuel - so fit locking wheel nuts and lock your fuel filler cap.
You may also want to consider:
Fitting aftermarket locks and alarms (see www.thatcham.org)
Secure storage vault within the vehicle.
Removing tools from the vehicle.
Overtly marking tools with your details and also registering items with a serial number at www.immobilise.com
Parking your vehicle within a secure building or compound.
Parking your vehicle with the doors against a wall or garage to restrict access.
Installing CCTV that sends a notification when activated.
Local Businesses - Commericial Burglaries
- Are there good quality locks on all doors and windows at ground level?
- Are there good quality locks on each accessible door and window above ground level?
- Can internal doors be locked when left unattended for long periods? (Providing no one is living within the confines of the property)
- Are all fire doors alarmed?
- Do you nominate members of staff to check that all doors and windows are closed and locked at the end of the business day?
- If you have a burglar alarm, are your staff familiar with the procedures for switching it on and off (In order to reduce false alarms)?
- Do you maintain good visibility around the perimeter of your building e.g. cutting back overgrown planting?
- Do you have adequate lighting around your building during the hours of darkness?
- Do you have your CCTV cameras regularly maintained?
- Do the CCTV cameras cover the entrances and exits to your building?
- Do you have CCTV cameras covering critical areas in your business such as server rooms or cash offices?
- Do you store the CCTV images in accordance with the evidential needs of the police?
- Could you positively identify an individual from the recorded images on your CCTV system?
Most business burglaries occur through smashing glass windows or panels in doors:
Grilles and Shutters: These can be an excellent way of deterring burglars, but externally fitted varieties will need planning permission. There are three main types:
- Internal grilles are usually a thin lattice mesh that is lowered just behind the window. (Note that these do not protect the window and glass replacement is often the greatest cost in a burglary);
- External metal grilles are usually of the ‘tube and link’ design;
- External roller shutters (made from solid aluminium or steel strips or laths which can have ‘windows’ punched into them to allow window shoppers a glimpse of your wares).
External grilles and shutters usually roll up into a housing behind the fascia while the shop is trading; some are taken down in sections and stored inside the shop.
Fit grilles inside: You can protect high value goods within the shop floor area by securing high risk display cabinets, such as for tobacco displays, with protective grilles and shutters.
Glass ‘film’: A reasonably cheap way of improving the strength of glass windows against smash and grab attacks is by applying a plastic film, available in various grades, to the rear of the window. This is a good deterrent but filmed glass windows are slightly less clear than non-filmed windows. Mirror-finished film on rear windows will both increase the strength of the glass and fully restrict a burglar’s view into rear storage areas.
Laminated glass: This is very difficult to break through in a ‘smash and grab’ attack because it is made by bonding a layer of tough plastic between sheets of glass, and this will hold the window together even after the glass has broken. However, to be effective you must ensure that window frames and fixings are equally strong, and bear in mind that you will often have to pay to replace the glass, even if the burglars were not able to take your stock.
For further advice on securing your businesses you can contact the general police number “101” and ask for assistance from a Design Out Crime Officer (DOCO) for your area or you can click on the web page for Suffolk Police Community Safety site: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z
If you see anyone acting suspiciously around a location, or have any information on any offences that have recently occurred, please contact Suffolk Police via www.suffolk.police.uk using the ‘report something’ link or via 101 telephone number.
Last update on Sunday 11 Nov 2018 by Alan Comber.