Prolific Conman Targeting Churches

PHDefence, a local martial arts class I teach at, is held at a chapel. While I was there, I saw this notice and thought I should do what I can do share it. Knowledge is power! Now, this may not seem particularly relevant to self-protection or personal security, but it is. Dialogue, deception and distraction are three major factors that a criminal often utilises in the ‘interview’ stage of selecting a victim for a violent attack so maintaining awareness of these kinds of methods is crucial.

Just click either of the images to display it larger. Note: I’m not saying conclusively.that this is true or anything of the sort. I’m just sharing what I’ve seen.

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‘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.

Home Security: Easy and Cheap Upgrades

This is a good one.

As you may know, I’m a big fan of Lifehacker. I think their approach towards everything is brilliant and they’re often my go-to website if I’m not sure of anything technological (and often other stuff too). If you’re not keeping up to date with their posts, then you’re missing out and I heartily recommend you do something about it!

The other day, Melanie Pincola wrote this article on the site, which outlines some really effective strategies based on burglary statistics. Here is a brief summary of the main points.

Know Your Enemy! The Anatomy of a Burglary:

These statistics are from 2005 and are US-centric, but this graphic from the Washington Post still shows you some important and useful information to bear in mind when evaluating your home security measures:

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Most Burglaries Occur Between 10:00 and 15:00. Whether this is true of the UK or not, it ultimately means very little. Beware the false sense of security that can arise from these kinds of statistics! While it is good to remember which peak times prevail in your local area for burglaries (get in touch with your local police force for information; they can steer you towards some up-to-date statistics), you should not feel that at other times there’s any cause for relaxation of your security measures! Thinking ‘Ahh, I’ll leave it – it’s after three…’ is not a good mindset! Just because most burglaries happen within certain times, it doesn’t mean the next one will!

Burglars look for homes that appear unoccupied, and residential homes, as you know, tend to be empty during those hours because people are at work. If you’re out of the house during those hours and are concerned about burglaries in your neighborhood, consider setting a random timer to turn the TV or radio on during those hours.

If you have a second car, keep it out in the driveway while you’re at work. Or, perhaps you can rent your driveway during the daytime (besides making your home less attractive to thieves, you can make a few extra bucks. Win!); previously mentioned Park Circa is one place you can find people looking for a parking spot in your neighborhood.

Do you use gardening services or other home maintenance services like window cleaning? Schedule those services (which don’t require you to be at home) during those prime theft hours.

Good advice here, well worth following. Just make sure that you can trust whoever you’re sending around to your empty house to do work though! How do you know they’re not an opportunistic thief, or recently become laden with debt and are desperate to pay it off? That’s it – you don’t!

The typical house burglar is a male teen in your neighborhood—not a professional thief and 60 seconds is the most burglars want to spend breaking into your home. This suggests you only need enough security to thwart the regular person. Simple things like the
"my scary dog can run faster than you" sign may be one of the most effective theft deterrents, other than—or in addition to—actually owning a scary dog. (Even a small dog prone to barking helps, though.) Regular "beware of dog" signs work too, especially if you add some additional supporting evidence of dog ownership, like leaving a dog bowl outside by your side door.

The Washington Post suggests deadbolt locks, bars on windows, and pins in sash windows may be effective theft deterrents. It goes without saying to make sure all the entry points are locked (but, still, 6% of burglaries happen that way).

Again, while this is excellent advice that we all should take into consideration, don’t think that older or younger, or female, local people can’t be burglars based on this! What we should take from this is that the more difficult we make our homes to break into, then the more warning we’ll get if someone’s breaking in, and the more time we’ll have for either the police to arrive after you call them or for you to escape, or whatever other plans you have in place.

In order of percent of burglaries, thieves come in through: the front door, first-floor windows, and back door primarily, followed by the garage, unlocked entrances, and the basement. Look at reinforcing all of these entry points, of course, but if you want to know where the best places are to put your security cameras, the front and back door and first floor windows are your best bets. (We’ve featured quite a few DIY ones using old webcams or your PC.) Fake security cameras placed at those points might also be effective.

With your outside lighting, make sure those points of entry are well lit (motion-detector lights are inexpensive and don’t use a lot of energy) and clear of thief-hiding shrubbery.

When placing lights and cameras, think about how much they can see – treat them as if you’re placing sentries, because essentially that’s what you’re doing! Corners are great, especially if they can oscillate and see all around from there. You can’t sneak past a camera through a wall! Make sure the ends of the camera’s oscillation ‘touch’ the walls though, or you’ve just made them a handy little invisibility path! If you’re placing dummy cameras, make sure they’re very visible and preferably have blinking LEDs on them (an easy thing to make if yours haven’t). Something that can be seen from the road is best, and from any other likely access points. Always think about where a thief can hide around your house, and what you can do about it. Try breaking into your house yourself (simulated of course, unless you really want to test out your windows’ anti-shatter strength!) to see where your security holes are.

An average of 8 to 12 minutes is all burglars spend in your home. If a thief does get into your house, you can prevent loss of your valuable objects by making them harder to find than within those 12 minutes. The dresser drawer, bedroom closet, and freezer are some of the first places thieves look, so forget about those hiding places. Instead, consider hiding things in plain sight.

Perhaps set up a red herring for possible thieves: Leave out an old laptop the thief can quickly grab and go. Even better: install Prey to track the stolen laptop.

Once again, I would take this information in, but I wouldn’t swear by it. The mindset of ‘He’s probably gone, it’s been 15 minutes, so we can come out from hiding now…’ isn’t what I would recommend! That’s only if you’re in though of course. Making things hard to find is a great third defence, after making the house look unappealing to burglars, then making it difficult for them to get in. The longer they’ve got to mess around, the more likely the police will arrive or they’ll give up, panic, and leave empty’-handed. The links are worth following in this quote. Prey is invaluable, and I may do an article on it myself. I have it installed on both of my computers and my phone.

We’ve previously noted several ways to protect your home while traveling, including using push lights in your windows and asking your neighbors for a vacation check. Lifehacker reader fiji.siv reminded us of a small detail like not having your garbage cans put out as a sign that you’re away; make sure any help you get from friends or neighbors include the little stuff like that (putting out garbage cans, getting the mail, maybe even cutting the grass).

Don’t forget the daily stuff like stopping newspaper and mail delivery, if you don’t have someone picking those up for you.

And, of course, the tried-and-true method of looking like you’re home: use a random timer on your indoor lights or TV.

This is all, once again, well worth paying attention to – basically just make it look like you’re in when you’re not! There are loads of ways you can do this, as the link in this quote shows you.

There’s a lot of other information in the comments on Lifehacker, so that’s also worth a look. What measures do you take? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or if you’re especially awesome, join the discussion on the CSPS forum.

101–The New UK Non-Emergency Police Number

imageHi all,

Just a quick update from the police again – the non-emergency number has changed (or will be changing, depending on where you are) to 101. You may be wondering when you should call 999, and when you should call 101.

When to call 101?
You should call 101 to report less urgent crime and disorder or to speak to your local officers.
For example, you should call 101 if:

  • Your car has been stolen
  • Your property has been damaged
  • You suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood

Or to:

  • Report a minor traffic collision
  • Give the police information about crime in your area
  • Speak to the police about a general enquiry

This is a replacement for the old local one, which was 03001234455. ‘Calls to 101 (from both landlines and mobile networks) cost 15 pence per call, no matter what time of day you call, or how long you are on the phone. Everyone calling the police for non-emergency matters will now know exactly how much a call will cost them, and can be assured of equal access whether they are on a pay-as-you-go mobile or a home landline.’

Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired can textphone 18001 101.

More information can be found at http://www.police.uk/101 (image courtesy of here).

A list of alternative non-emergency numbers can be found at http://www.police.uk/alternative-non-emergency-numbers along with other useful ones like the British Transport Police, Crimestoppers, Anti-Terrorist Hotline, the NSPCC and a victim support line.

11 Year Old Karateka Fights Off Attacker in Bristol

Jade PiddenJade Pidden, an 11-year-old Karateka from Bristol has managed to fend off an attacker she described as white, 6ft tall, slim, in his early 20s, with light brown hair and a long fringe. She said he was wearing a blue hoodie, with white writing and tight jeans with black and white Nike trainers.

The following is an excerpt from the original news story. Police are investigating the incident and are appealing for witnesses.

Brown-belt Jade says she first spotted the man when she turned off Lyons Court Road and into Winash Close.

By the time she reached the lane running between the Imperial ground field and Knowle golf course she said he was right behind her and asking to speak to her.

Jade ran away through a gap in the fence and into the field, pursued by the man who managed to grab her rucksack.

But she fought back, delivering the blows that saw her attacker run off.

"He was trying to grab me, not my bag. The bag was just something he was able to get hold of when I ran.

"When he did I just automatically responded by elbowing him in the chest and punching him in the face.

"He looked pretty shocked and ran away with his hand over one eye. I was quite upset but my sister and her friend comforted me on the rest of the way to school."

It should be noted that it’s likely the attacker has some injury to an eye, so bear this in mind while it might still be swollen if you’re in the area and see someone matching the description!

To those who can’t be bothered training in a martial art or other combative system, I urge you to think again. This isn’t about me plugging CSPS as an answer, or using scare tactics to get more students. This is me urging you all to think about your level of preparedness if something like this happened, and think about those you care about too. Would your children be able to defend themselves against an attack like this? Would they be aware enough to see it coming? Would you? If you have any doubts when thinking about these questions, get yourself to the nearest martial arts or self protection class as soon as you possibly can. Get in touch with the British Combat Association or check out their club listing for yourselves at http://britishcombat.co.uk/club-listing/ to make sure you find a reputable club who’s insured with the leading organisation in the UK. Don’t take the chance – find yourself a class you enjoy and an instructor you like, and prepare yourself!

I can’t congratulate Jade enough – she’s an example to everyone’s students. Your training’s not supposed to be left at the Dojo! Never let the scum win. Get away or fight back, but whatever you do, commit. Commit to your training and commit to your personal security. Get training!

I’ll get off my soap box now, I’ve got some training to do.

Do you think self-protection should be taught to kids in PE at school? Join the discussion at the CSPS forum: http://cspsonline.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=93

Original article featured on the CSPS Facebook page – if you want to stay updated chuck us a like and you’ll get news like this in your Feed: http://www.facebook.com/CSPSonline

Alternatively, throw us a follow: http://twitter.com/CSPSonline

Or just subscribe over in the sidebar to the right! —–>

Image courtesy of the original article at http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Karate-girl-11-fights-attacker-Bristol/story-13579700-detail/story.html

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

Assault in Tunstall – Police Looking for Witnesses

Just spreading the word to help out with this one:

Officers were called to Furlong Road at around 10.30pm on Friday 30 September following a report of a fight.

A 15-year-old boy had sustained a head injury and was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire for treatment. He was discharged a short time later.

A 45-year old man suffered a broken jaw and was taken to Aintree Hospital in Liverpool for specialist treatment. He was discharged yesterday, Sunday 2 October. He has been arrested in connection with the incident and has been bailed, pending further inquiries, to a date later this month.

Police are looking for witnesses, so if anyone noticed anything around that area on the day then please get in touch with them:

Anyone with information is urged to contact DC Louise Giles at Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 quoting incident number 955 of September 30 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Issued: 03/10/2011           Contact name: DC Louise Giles           Contact number: 0300 123 4455
Crime reference number: 955 of 30/09/2011

The article, found at http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/latest_appeals/111003_ic_assault_tunstall/?view=Standard&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed says that the area was busy due to people being out enjoying the hot weather, so there should be at least one person who knows something!

Don’t forget that the weather should be a consideration in your self-evaluation of your own personal security – do you think about it? Join the discussion on the CSPS forums at http://cspsonline.proboards.com for more on this.

New Home Needed for Local Boxing Academy

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The Blue Glove Boxing Academy, which is run by Staffordshire Police officers, is in need of a new home in Stoke-on-Trent.

Boxing sessions are currently held on an ad-hoc basis at the Wallace Centre in Abbey Hulton, but the Academy wants to set up a permanent base of its own which can be used during the day, in the evening and at weekends.

PCs Colin Gay and Steve Marsh run the Academy, and earlier this year organised a charity boxing event which went on to raise more than £32,000 for the Blue Lamp Foundation – the emergency services charity set up by injured PC David Rathband. The Academy regularly hosts sessions for young people, which helps to develop their fitness and discipline and is a useful diversionary tactic away from anti-social behaviour. Having a permanent base would enable more such sessions to be organised.

It’s always good to remember that things like boxing aren’t just about hitting pads and people! The benefits to combative training of all kinds are both numerous and substantial.

“We are looking for new premises we can call home,” said PC Gay. “Ideally we are after a floor of a building that is not being used and which we can access daily. It needs to be spacious so we can install a ring and other boxing equipment, and ideally situated in Stoke-on-Trent. If we are successful in finding a new base our aim is to deliver more training sessions to young people to engage them in positive activity, and away from anti-social behaviour.”

Anyone who can provide a new home for the Blue Glove Boxing Academy is asked to contact PC Gay at Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 .

Can you help them out? Any ideas? Please get in touch with them if you can – Stoke-on-Trent could use some more youth activities, especially of this kind.

Here’s the original article: http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/news_releases/110928_ie_boxing_academy/?view=Standard

Image courtesy of http://reviews.costco.ca/2070-en_ca/10300708/everlast-everlast-14-oz-blue-boxing-gloves-reviews/reviews.htm

Security Warning from Staffs Police

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Staffordshire Police have issued a warning today to remember your home security, in light of ‘several recent burglaries across the south of the county’.

Of course, this advice applies all the time, not just in higher-risk times!

Is your home safe?

Properties in the Rugeley, Stafford, Cannock and Uttoxeter areas were targeted by offenders.

The majority of these properties were left insecure and small items including wallets, mobiles and handbags were stolen.

Residents are urged to look at their property through the eyes of a burglar and make adjustments if there are weak security spots.

This is really good advice when considering your home security. It is also a good idea to apply this to your personal security – look at yourself through the eyes of a mugger, ‘monkey-dance’ thug, rapist or sadistic violence opportunist. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your personal security.

The warning urges people to lock their doors and shut windows when they go upstairs or into the garden. I always say to people (because it’s true) that you should consider an unlocked door an open door, as it very nearly is. The barrier it presents to a committed criminal is negligible at best.

To 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.

All good advice – it should be common sense and second nature though! If you’ve got any doubts, questions, worries, etc about this kind of thing then there’s further information on www.staffordshire.police.uk or you can call their non emergency number on 0300 123 4455.

Alternately, join the discussions already taking place on our forum – it’s completely free, and the users are all friendly and respectful. Find us at http://cspsonline.proboards.com, or use the button at the top of this page.

There’s a discussion started on whether you’re prepared or not here – what do you do to keep your home safe from invasion? http://cspsonline.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=26

There’s a discussion here about the (fairly) recent clarification of UK home defence law as well, with useful links to further information: http://cspsonline.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=27

The original police article can be read here: http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/news_releases/110926_21_security_warning/?view=Standard

Image courtesy of Guardian.co.uk (http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Money/Pix/pictures/2007/09/26/Burglar276.jpg)

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