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ADVICE FROM THE POLICE AND TOP TIPS TO SECURE YOUR HOME

Updated 24/10/15

For Car/Vehicle Protection and Advice, click here

Recent burglaries in the area have been at the rear of properties. Beware!

Mark or etch your property with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.

Register items with a serial number at www.immobilise.com

Do not leave your car keys, valuables or ID documents near a door, letterbox or window.

Always check who's at the door and don't open it if you feel anxious.

Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.

Keep your valuables out of sight.

Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home. Use an automatic time switch on an indoor light, either in a room that cannot be peered into from the road, or upstairs.  Consider drawing the curtains if you are in a room with the lights switched on.  Regularly change the timing on the switch.

Fit security lighting, either dusk to dawn energy efficient lighting that will come on automatically as dusk sets in, or a passive infra-red (PIR) light that will draw attention to movement.

Fit a 5 lever mortice lock to your front door and other external doors.  Consider installing a burglar alarm.

Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked.

Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time. Ask a neighbour to periodically check and keep an “eye” on your property.

Put a time switch on a radio that has been tuned to a chat station, this will give the impression that the house is occupied. Again, regularly change the timing on the switch.

Property mark your valuables with your postcode and house number. Some articles are unsuitable for marking so photograph them - with a ruler in view to show scale.

Secure windows, paying particular attention to those on the ground floor and above flat roof areas. Always use locks and bolts and keep all your keys, including car keys, out of sight and out of reach. Ground floor windows should have key operated locks unless used as a fire escape. Ensure that patio doors have at least three locking points fitted.

Ensure that gates or access to the rear of the house are locked and all fences are secure.  Don’t forget to lock your shed; your tools can be used to break in.  Trim overgrown plants - don’t give burglars a hiding place. Always keep your garden shed and garage doors locked, if open the burglars love using your tools to force entry.

Intruder alarms are an effective deterrent against burglars.  Before choosing a system ensure it is the one most suitable for your needs.

For further advice visit the following websites: www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention

Trust your instincts. Always call 999 if you see anybody acting suspiciously in your area, giving their description and/or vehicle registration number to the operator.

If you require any further advice contact the Crime Prevention Office on 020 8649 1414 or visit our website; www.met.police.uk/croydon

UPVC Doors – A Warning

Burglaries continue to occur where uPVC doors have not been secured properly. Many types of uPVC doors are a popular front door for homes as they offer good protection against break-ins; however some uPVC doors can be easily opened from the outside if they are not locked with the key from inside. Shutting the door and pulling the handle up does not, in fact, lock most of these doors. It merely closes it and it is then relatively easy for a skilled thief to pull the handle down and ‘pop’ it open. To correctly lock the door, you should first close it, pull the handle up and then use the key to lock the handle in place. This is also known as deadlocking and will greatly increase the security of the door.

Whilst this is the best method of protection, you should also ensure you are able to exit as quickly as possible.  Therefore, advice is that you keep house keys upstairs or store them near the door, but out of sight, for easy access in an emergency. By adding this simple step to your lockup routine, it is possible to dramatically reduce your chance of becoming a victim of burglary”.


PROPERTY MARKING

Marking your property is a quick and effective way of protecting your property.  It will make it less attractive to thieves to steal it in the first place as they know that marked property can be easily identified by the police.


In addition, the traceable property may be more difficult for them to 'cash in' with another criminal or to a willing purchaser of the item.  Of course it also greatly enhances the chances of you being re-united with the item which is important too.  Although etching or punching your postcode and house number or name on property can be very effective, it is often not a practical option so we have other ways of effective Property Marking.

Electronic marking

If you have a Mobile Phone stolen or lose it, the police will be checking the Immobilise website if they find it in the possession of a criminal or left in the location of the theft to identify it.  It is a free service and takes a few minutes on line to register your phones details at the Immobilise website.


Similarly if you have a bicycle you should register your frame number at the bikeregister.com website.  Bike Register is the free to use Metropolitan Police approved bicycle registration service.  Warning stickers and other security marking products are available from the company at a discount using the promotional code "MPSbikeregister10".


Police offered marking products

The Association of Chief Police Officers recommends via its 'Secured by Design' scheme Property Marking Products and companies that satisfy their criteria.  Kit’s cost in the range of 15 pounds, which includes warning labels to, would be thieves, an important aspect.  View the 'Secured by Design' website to see available kit options.

UV pen marking

UV pen marking still has a role to play in Crime Prevention however, only after the above methods have been considered.

The principle here is that you mark your postcode followed by the house number or name on property with an UV pen that is invisible to the naked eye.  Again you display stickers usually supplied with the pen to illustrate that you have done this.  Police have access to UV lights that show up postcodes etc when shone on your UV mark of your postcode.  Pens cost a pound or so hence their popularity however we are moving towards contemporary methods as above in order to reprofile the Crime Prevention benefit of Property Marking.

Taking photographs of property, as detailed as possible, is recommended for reconciliation/prosecution of offender purposes, particularly if it is not property marked.


POLICE CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE: GARDEN SHEDS

Garden sheds are a very popular target with burglars and are often overlooked when security is being considered.  The value of the contents, such as garden mowers, strimmers and cycles can often add up to many hundreds of pounds.  It is therefore wise to secure the shed door with at least one heavy duty hasp and closed-shackle padlock.


It may not always be appropriate to fit a heavy duty padlock, hasp and staple as the shed door and frame may not be strong enough to support them.  There are a range of smaller but sturdy padlocks, padbolts, hasps and staples which would be suitable.  Whether fitting heavy duty devices or otherwise, always use coach-bolt fixings through the door and frame.

All opening windows within the shed will require good window locks.


In addition to fitting external physical security to your shed, it is worth considering the installation of an alarm.  This does not mean a complete burglar alarm system, though, if your house already has such an installation, it may be possible for it to be extended to the shed.  There are various stand-alone devices on the market specifically designed for remote use in garages or sheds.


The major problem with vulnerable garden sheds is that they provide burglars with an arsenal of house breaking implements, e.g. the versatile garden spade: because of the blade size and the leverage that can be exerted, few door or window locks can withstand a prolonged attack from this implement.  If the shed is too fragile to secure adequately, the spade should either be bolted or padlocked to a heavy bench or frame, or, better still, kept in a more secure place such as a locked garage.  Alternatively, your tools can be secured by chaining them together.


Consider the use of a strong lockable box or cage within the shed in which you can store not only your garden tools but also insecticides, weed killers or other items which may be harmful to health or plants if improperly used.


BURGLARS USING FRONT DOOR STICKERS TO IDENTIFY EASY TARGETS

There are growing concerns that burglars are using accomplices to identify vulnerable properties in the borough and then marking them out with discreet plastic stickers. The scouts are fixing the small, virtually transparent stickers to people's front doors. They are so discreet that residents may not even notice they are there - but for criminals who know what to look for - they act as a big green light that the property is an easy target.













Police are already linking these stickers to at least one burglary in Wandsworth.  The stickers are printed with the words "24 hour locksmith" and a telephone number.  However the number does not exist and does not appear to have ever been issued by a telecoms company.


Detectives believe the scout is sent to an area to look for homes that may be easier to burgle.  The belief is that he or she calls at addresses to see if people are at home during the day.  This also gives them the chance to get up close to doors and windows and check out how good the locks are. If the scout thinks the home would be easy to break into - he or she leaves a sticker on the door.  If they are stopped by the police they can claim to be innocently distributing marketing material for the locksmiths firm. The council's crime prevention spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: "There is growing evidence that some organised teams of burglars may be using this method to target homes in south London. "We are therefore urging local residents to keep a very close eye out for these stickers and if they find one to remove it straight away.


THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF CRIME

Burglars have in the past been scrawling secret symbols in the street to help other criminals know which properties to target.  The symbols may indicate that a home is wealthy, has already been burgled or may have nothing worth stealing.  They may also indicate if there is a vulnerable female in the home, or if the occupant is nervous, afraid or gullible.

The meaning behind a number of the symbols has been decoded by officers who have put out a reminder in a bid to warn the public.  

If you see any such symbols chalked in your street please advise your local Safer Neighbourhood Team so that they are aware.























CHARITY CHUGGERS

 Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network are urging charities to call a halt to fundraising efforts that rely on doorstep chuggers.  The call follows complaints from residents in Putney, London who have had chuggers - or so-called ‘charity muggers’ - knocking on their doors late in the evening trying to elicit donations.

 

Chuggers normally operate in town centres or outside busy Tube/rail stations and try to persuade passers-by to sign up to making monthly direct debits to the charity they represent.  Many people find their presence annoying or distressing and there have been reports of chuggers harassing people who refuse to hand over bank details.  Shopkeepers also complain about their activities and blame them for driving customers away.  Unfortunately, local authorities have no formal powers to regulate chuggers because no actual money changes hands.  Police Forces do have some powers to control their activities but there are gaps in the law that often allow chuggers to operate with impunity.  NHWN Chairman, Jim Maddan said charities needed to do more to ensure their representatives did not target elderly or vulnerable residents.  He said: “Charities should not be employing these kinds of tactics to raise money.  It is not acceptable to send teams of chuggers out into residential areas late at night to knock on people’s doors.  Very few residents will want callers banging on their doors when it’s dark, especially if it’s to demand bank account details.  I certainly do not think older or vulnerable residents should be pressured into divulging this kind of information to people who come cold-calling.


“No-one wants to put unnecessary barriers in the way of legitimate charities who wish to raise funds for their good works but this is not the way they should be going about it.  Unfortunately there have been too many cases where unscrupulous chuggers have overstepped the mark and caused real upset and, while its relatively easy to dodge them in a high street, it is not so easy to do when they are standing on your doorstep.  I will be writing to the charity which has been employing these chuggers to ask them to stop these activities straight away.”

 

Anyone concerned at the activities of chuggers, or who believes door-to-door callers may not be genuinely working on behalf of a charity, should dial 999 and call the police immediately.


BLOCK NUISANCE/SALES PHONE CALLS AND JUNK MAIL

You can reduce the number of spam/sales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service by phone on 0845 070 0707 or online at www.tpsonline.org.uk


It takes some four weeks for the registration to be fully effective in reducing sales call from companies in the UK; the service does not stop calls from overseas unfortunately.  Any UK company that continues to call you can be reported via the TPS website and if they still continue to call you can report them to the Information Commissioners Office which has the power to prosecute any company that continues to make unwanted calls.


If you get a call asking you to call a premium rate number this will be a bogus scam call, these calls can be reported to the Phone pay Plus website on www.phonepayplus.org.uk


Silent calls come from an automated calling system used by many sales companies where there is no operator available to speak to you after the call has been automatically dialled, these can be reported to Ofcom on www.ofcom.org.uk


If you receive an abusive or threatening call this can be reported to the BT Nuisance Call Advice line on 0800 661 441 you can also report these calls to the Police by dialling 101 and giving as much details as possible so that the Police can attempt to trace the call.


There are also at least two call blocking devices and from personal experience I can say that the TrueCall device is very effective as you can block individual phone numbers, overseas calls and calls with withheld numbers (withheld numbers can be a problem as many large companies, such as the Police/Hospitals do not give out their number when calling.  This device is expensive at over £90 on Amazon but it has stopped overseas sales calls which I started to receive at all hours of the day and night.  BT has recently introduced several home phones which can block up to 10 numbers but this is not many, with the TrueCall device you can block over 100 and stop the unwanted calls by blocking their number, you only need to press the # key while the call is in progress to stop them phoning again.


BT has a Choose to Refuse free service which can also block up to 10 numbers there is also an Anonymous call rejection service but this requires a monthly payment.


Spammers get your number from lists sold by rogue companies or purely using a random number generator that dials hundreds or numbers using a computer programme.


Registering with the Mailing Preference Service

The Mailing Preference Service supports the right to choose the mail you wish to receive.  Registration to this free service can be made on line or by phone to 0845 703 4599 or 0207 291 3310. Registration can also can be obtained from www.mpsonline.org.uk .


SHRED YOUR PAPERS AND PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY

Householders are being warned to be especially careful when it comes to disposing of papers containing personal details.

There have been reports, borough-wide, of people rifling through domestic waste and recycling bins – some in private gardens.

Croydon police are asking that anybody who sees this happening, or has had it happen to them, report it to their local Safer Neighbourhoods team.


CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE:

1 in 10 home owners are at risk of ID crime by leaving financial information on their doorstep

Royal Mail have conducted one of the largest studies of home movers in the UK which reveals people are putting themselves at risk of ID crime by not redirecting their mail when they move home.  Click on link to read more.


TRADING STANDARDS ADVICE: DEALING WITH DOORSTEP COLD CALLERS

You should always be alert when you receive a cold caller at your door. Not all doorstep callers are bogus.  Some will be genuine sales people, but watch out for aggressive or misleading sales practices and rogue callers.  Rogue traders are criminals who use the appearance of a legitimate business to commit crime and deprive you of your hard earned cash.

 

Never invite an unknown caller into your home and always use your door chain!  Look out for some of the following types of phrases which may be used to try and frighten or entice you into agreeing to have work done on your property:

 "You have a loose tile on your roof".

"You need to have some pointing on your chimney".

"You need some work doing on your driveway"

 

Never say yes on the spot.

Always get a second opinion about the work being suggested, it may not be as urgent as you think.  A genuine trader will not pressure you into agreeing to have work done immediately. Do you need to answer the door?  – NO!  You do not have to answer the door if you do not want to, make use of security measures such as spy holes or door chains.

 

Check business details.  Check traders' names, phone numbers and ask for written details/headed paper.  Always get a written quote, ensure this includes full business details, including owner's name and address.

 

Always get a price and an idea of the length of time the job will take before paying any money.  Never pay the full amount up front, always withhold money until the job is completed to a satisfactory standard.

 

Be wary of generous guarantees – a guarantee is only as good as the business unless it is insurance backed.

YOUR DOORSTEP – YOUR DECISION.  Do not feel guilty if you want to say no! Call the Police on 999 if you feel threatened or dial 101 to report an aggressive trader.


COLD CALLING BOGUS SOLICITORS

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reviewed reports submitted to Action Fraud and has seen considerable proportions relating to cold calling bogus solicitors.

Between June and August 2013 the NFIB undertook a review of all Action Fraud reports and found a considerable proportion relating to instances whereby individuals were cold called by fraudsters purporting to be solicitors.

In all the reports analysed the bogus solicitors asked their victims to pay an advance fee for their “services” ranging from inheritance collection to Payment Protection Insurance. The bogus solicitors are not who they say they are and will take your money and disappear.

The fraudsters used these methods:

If you receive a suspicious cold call end it immediately, report it to us and do not give out any money or personal details. Remember; if it seems too good be true, it probably is

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool


POLICE ADVICE ON COLD CALLING ALARM COMPANIES

Information has been received about a company, which targets the elderly and vulnerable members of society with unsolicited telephone calls. The calls may be from someone purporting to be from a Crime Prevention Company and are offering an intruder alarm system. Sometimes there is a suggestion that the company is responding to a recent crime; at other times there is a suggestion they are working with or for the local police service.

 

In all cases the company will cold call the householder and offer a ‘free’ alarm system. The householders will invariably be elderly. The company employ cold calling by telephone as a method of targeting older and vulnerable people.   The caller may claim to offer an intruder system alarm and/or advice on such systems or personal security. They may say they are responding to a crime or an incident. If accepted they then progress to using hard sell tactics to sign people up to monitoring contracts.


The prices quoted for alarm systems vary from free to a small selection of addresses as an advertisement to other properties to £5000/£6000 or more.  If the system is offered free of charge, there is an administration fee.

 

The companies are not registered with any of the Security Industry Regulatory organisations. You are recommended and advised to research any company and if possible get a recommendation from a friend or one of the websites such as checkatrade.com before you arrange a sales visit.  Do not accept any offers to visit until you have checked further.

 

CAR ADVICE

Car Number Plate Theft and Cloning

Number plate theft continues to be a problem in our area (especially from Warren Rd, Purley) and many plates are used for serious criminal activity. The theft resistant number plate is made to stop anyone taking it off your vehicle quickly and reusing it on another vehicle.

The reasons behind number plate theft

The vehicle registration mark on a number plate is the key piece of information that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) use to look up keeper details on a vehicle record. Stolen number plates are used on vehicles, by those who don't want to be found out when they commit such offences as:

speeding

illegal parking

not paying congestion charges

driving away from a petrol forecourt without paying

not paying for parking tickets or speeding fines

‘disguising’ a stolen vehicle

Vehicles with stolen number plates have also been used in more serious crimes such as kidnapping and robbery.

What to do if your number plates have been stolen

If your number plates are stolen, DVLA advises you to report the theft to the police. If you receive fines or correspondence after the theft, you should return them immediately to the issuing authority with an explanation and any documentary evidence.

Note: It is an offence to display the wrong vehicle registration mark on a vehicle with a maximum penalty of £1,000.

Theft Resistant Number Plates

You can buy Anti-theft screws for your number plates from Halfords or Amazon. They only cost a few pounds and could save you a lot of hassle in the long run. It is also worth speaking to your Safer Neighbourhood Team, they may be able to assist.

The benefits of theft resistant number plates

The DVLA works with number plate manufacturers and others, to develop an agreed standard for theft resistant number plates. The numerous benefits the new plates can offer include:

cutting the number of car owners faced with motoring related fines for something they didn’t do

preventing vehicle cloning (copying the identity of a similar vehicle) and reselling them to unsuspecting motorists

Contact your local car dealer or registered number plate supplier for further information including fitting and cost.

Further information about theft resistant number plates from the DVLA website - Link


PREVENT YOUR CAR BEING TARGETED BY CRIMINALS

Keep your car keys out of sight at home. Modern technology means it is now much more difficult to steal a car without its keys. This has led to criminals focussing their attention on stealing keys from houses, even breaking into homes primarily to steal car keys. So never leave your car keys near your front door on or display around the home.

Park in a safe place. If you can keep your car in a garage or on a driveway, so much the better. If you park on the street, pick a well-lit location - but not under a lamp post as this only serves to shows off your vehicle's contents to potential thieves

Don't leave valuables such as mobile phones or sat nav devices on display. And if you have been using a sat nav, do make sure to wipe away the telltale circular mark on your windscreen before leaving your car - otherwise you're simply advertising to thieves that your car contains such gadgets.

Fit an immobiliser and tracking device - but make sure it is from a manufacturer recognised by your car insurer.


SELLING VEHICLES

It has never been easier to buy or sell a vehicle than it is now ... thanks to the internet. The ability to upload and view photos and vehicle descriptions, and contact buyers and sellers - all with a click - have transformed the business, and people's experience of buying and selling. 

However, the internet has also made it easier for dishonest buyers and sellers to defraud larger numbers of people, so there are a number of things you need to be aware of before going online to sell a vehicle. 

 Safe Selling

 And as with all kinds of online transactions, always observe the following precautions:

 If you suspect anything

 If you think you have been a victim of vehicle fraud: 

Report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visitng  www.actionfraud.police.uk


DRIVERS WARNED OVER GROWING 'FLASH FOR CRASH' INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME

Motorists are falling foul of a new insurance fraud scheme dubbed “flash for crash”.  The latest tactic sees cars lying in wait for victims to exit from shops, car parks or fuel stations.  Fraudsters flash their headlights, offering the victim a right of way to join a main road, but then speed up to ensure their car is hit side-on.


The new tactic has been spotted, and given its name, by automotive anti-fraud investigation firm APU, which said the flash-for-crash phenomenon, had emerged as a worrying trend since the start of the year. "It is yet another example of how criminal gangs are becoming more sophisticated and attempting to stay one step ahead of suspicion," said Neil Thomas, APU's director of investigative services and a former detective inspector with West Midlands Police. He went on: "The adoption of flashing headlights and beckoning the driver results in a 'your word against mine' situation when it comes to apportioning blame.  "By appearing to offer the right of way, the criminal simply continues his journey into a collision, holding the victim at fault for turning across him which, of course, cannot be denied under law."


APU said approximately 380 false insurance claims are made daily, costing the motor industry £1.7 million a year and pushing up insurance premiums.  It added that the Insurance Fraud Bureau is currently investigating 49 rings, responsible for around £66 million in false claims. This is just the latest twist on 'crash for cash' schemes that have been around for many years, causing many problems for both motorists and the insurance industry, according to RAC commercial director Kerry Michael.


"This kind of fraud is manipulative and can be incredibly traumatic for the innocent individuals who get embroiled in claims against them, which are usually for whiplash and personal injury - not for damage to the car as you might think."  He went on: "The costs of this kind of fraud in the UK goes into the hundreds of millions and this, inevitably, can lead to the overall price of insurance premiums being pushed up to accommodate the losses underwriters have to bear. Many motorists are now installing dashboard-mounted cameras to record evidence in the event of a false claim against them.  


BICYCLE SECURITY; POLICE ADVICE

Police are urging bicycle owners to take simple crime prevention measures to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of bicycle theft after a pan-London operation to pro-actively target thieves.

 Bicycle owners are asked to:

 • Make it difficult for thieves, it only takes a few seconds to cut poor quality locks, use gold Sold Secure standard locks when securing your bicycle
• Park your bicycle at secure cycle parking, which should be well lit and covered by CCTV - locking the frame and both wheels to the stand
• When parking you bicycle, take parts that are easy to remove with you, such as saddles and wheels or use secure skewers
• Mark & register your bicycle on BikeRegister - a visible deterrent to bike thieves. Google 'cycle marking in London' for details of events
• Registering your bike helps police and retailers identify and verify the legitimate owner of bikes that have been stolen or are being resold. A visible security marking on your bike deters potential thieves as your bike can be easily traced if it is stolen
• The MPS have selected BikeRegister as the preferred cycle register for London
• Keep a record of the details of your bicycle such as the frame number, BikeRegister number, other distinguishing features, and take a photo
• Don't buy a stolen second-hand bicycle. Insist on proof of ownership and check the bike frame number at BikeRegister
• If your bicycle is stolen, contact the police, giving them your frame and BikeRegister number, photo and any other deta




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