‘New Violent Crime Tactics’ Fake Crimestoppers Message

imageTHIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED – SEE BELOW.

A friend posted this recently in a Facebook group I am part of and I thought it was worth mentioning. As anyone who has undertaken any good self-protection training knows, criminals will often work with deception and distraction tactics in order to get what they want, whether that’s your money, your vehicle, your body, your life or whatever else. Deception and distraction are often the key to their successes.

This is nothing new, and I’ve heard of these tactics before, but it’s always good to keep an eye on the current trends with crime if we want to be prepared to deal with or prevent it.

You can click the image to the right to see it larger (or go to where I got it from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152312346350293) and read what it says exactly, but here are the key points:

  • This was noted in a rural area.
  • Gangs are using different methods of distraction to get people out of their cars.
  • There is a gang initiation that has been reported by the police where a car seat is placed by the road with a fake baby in it, waiting for someone to stop and check on the ‘baby’.
    • The location of this seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the victim is dragged into the woods, beaten, robbed and/or raped. They are left for dead. It has been reported that female victims are more likely to be raped and males are more likely to be robbed.

Aside from this distraction tactic, there is another that is mentioned in this letter:

  • Gangs are now throwing eggs at windscreens in order to force you to stop.
  • This works because the windscreen wiper smears the egg across the windscreen in a wide arc and if the egg comes into contact with water they become milky and can, according to this letter, block your vision up to 92.5%. I’m not sure where they get that figure from with such accuracy (Simple milky-egg opacity test? No idea.)but we can ascertain at least that milky eggs blocking your vision at all is not good!

The advice given for both situations is simple: DON’T STOP. Don’t even slow down. If you see the baby seat by the road or if you get egged, get to safety and dial 999 as soon as possible and tell them what you’ve seen and where. Don’t get complacent with the feeling of getting away. You did, but if you don’t call then the next person might not!  If you get egged, don’t use the wipers and definitely don’t use your spray. That’s what they’re counting on. If you do have to stop somewhere, of course do so safely for everyone else as well as yourself and keep your doors locked and windows closed. Pick where you stop wisely if you absolutely must stop. If you can see well enough to drive to safety safely, then do so.

This was posted to Facebook on the 11th of December 2012, and came to my attention yesterday.

Update: The Importance of Checking Information and What This Means to Us:

Now, as I’ve heard of these and similar tactics many times before, I took this seriously which is the approach I would advocate everyone take when hearing these things. Take it seriously until you hear otherwise, and then learn what you can from it. I had doubts about it, but shared it anyway for the useful information that can be taken from it regardless.

I contacted Staffordshire Police about the issue and they replied informing me that it is in fact a hoax (hence the poor grammar in the letter). According to this website:

This email did not originate with Crimestoppers, and the content of the email is false.

So now we know that the information is in fact fraudulent. However, let us not take this as an impetus to become blind to the possibility of such a thing happening, and thus place ourselves in a victim-state. If someone throwing around an email can think of it, so can a criminal! We know for a fact that distraction and deception tactics are widely used from small to large scales by criminals to victimise people, so take this as a warning and as inspiration if nothing else of something that theoretically could happen, and is theoretically possible.

Recent Local Crime Updates: Distraction Tactics and Burglary

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‘CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ as Professor Moody always says…

Today there’s been a couple of updates from Staffordshire Police following some recent criminal activity. It seems there’s a bit of a pattern going around of distraction tactics, whereby a criminal uses a false identity, usually a salesman or a member of the Water, Gas or Electric Board. Remember – these don’t exist! Nobody from the Water Board, Gas Board or Electric Board are telling the truth, as these companies do not exist!

Officers are looking for witnesses of burglaries in Wolseley Road, Rugeley, that took place on Tuesday the 27th of September.

The following is some more advice from Staffordshire Police:

Residents are reminded to take simple crime prevention measures to protect their homes and keep burglars at bay:

  • secure passageways and side entrances, make sure sheds and garages are fitted with proper security locks, and put away tools so they can’t be used to break in to your home
  • if you have to leave ladders outside, make sure they’re on their side and securely fixed to a wall or permanent fixture
  • keep wheelie bins secure and away from your property to stop thieves using them to get through first floor windows, or setting fire to them
  • mark items with your postcode and house number using an ‘invisible’ pen available from DIY stores. This makes stolen property easier to identify
  • ensure valuable items are not left in plain view and keep them away from windows and doors
  • fit mortise locks to all front and back doors and locks to windows that are in easy reach
  • keep house and car keys safe and away from doors, windows and letterboxes
  • keep garages and sheds secure
  • fit low cost security lighting as a deterrent.

According to their reports, families of the elderly and vulnerable are being encouraged to warn their relatives against opening the door to callers like these. On Friday the 30th of September, a distraction thief struck in the High Street, Alton. At around 14:40 an 87-year-old man opened the door to a white male, aged around 35, with brown hair, who was approximately 6ft tall and said he was from the Nottingham area. It is believed he had an ID card of some sort, but no details were noted. He sold a cleaning utensil to the resident from a holdall he was carrying, and then asked for a drink. The victim obliged, and returned to pay the criminal, who had used the opportunity to steal some money from the house. The following is some advice for this kind of situation:

Residents are asked to remain vigilant at all times and to follow this advice:

  • Never trust anyone calling at the door without a prior appointment. Should you receive such a call leave the door locked. The caller will hear  you through the door when you ask them who they are. If they state they are from a utilities company ask for your account number, they should have this, if not, do not let them in and tell them to leave, and that you are calling the Police.
  • Always ask for ID, and check it.
  • Do not allow anyone to carry work out on your home, or sell you anything when they cold call at the door. If you do require work to be done, INSTIGATE IT YOURSELF, by phoning three companies asking for like for like quotes. Then decide.
  • Do not keep large amounts of cash in your home, you may think that you have the perfect hiding place, but these criminals will find it.
  • Please remember there is no such company as the Water Board, Gas Board or Electric Board. These words are only used by offenders.
  • Always report any suspicious behaviour to the police, if you think it is suspicious, it probably is.
  • Keep your doors locked even when you are home.

Residents should also follow the stop, chain and check rule when people call at the door:

  • STOP – If you are not expecting anybody and they don’t have an appointment – don’t let them in
  • CHAIN – Use your door chain or bar before opening the door
  • CHECK – Ask to see ID and double check this.

People can also use the Nominate a Neighbour (NAN) scheme which diverts cold callers to a neighbour who will check caller’s identity. NAN packs are available from local police stations.

If you’re elderly or disabled, then that means you are a more viable victim for these kinds of crimes – you will be slower to go upstairs and flush the toilet to check the water, or go and get the nice man at the door that drink. As such, you should keep this in mind with your personal security – do not feel rude by making people wait outside, and closing the door on them while you get the money, drink, or whatever else. Never feel as though you should allow someone inside your house. It is your private home, and they have no right to enter it without invitation!

Also remember that similar distraction tactics are used ‘on the street’ – it’s not just the people knocking on the door you have to worry about.

Contact details can be found on the original articles for witnesses or for questions, and a wealth of information and advice from a friendly, informed user base can be found at the (free) CSPS online forum at http://cspsonline.proboards.com – a wonderful place to share your advice and benefit from others’!

STAY SAFE!

Burglaries in Rugeley: http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/latest_appeals/111004_21_rugeley/?view=Standard&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Distraction Tactics: http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/news_releases/111004_ia_distraction_tactics/?view=Standard

Image courtesy of: http://www.kingston.gov.uk/cold_calling.jpg

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