‘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’!
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