Think Like A Burglar – Crime Prevention Advice from Wiltshire Police

Think Like A Burglar To Protect Your Home

As winter approaches and the nights draw in we are urging the public to think about the security of their homes and vehicles.

Statistics tell us that burglary increases during the winter months. Longer, darker nights create the perfect environment for burglars who are seeking to take advantage of empty or insecure homes.

Detective Superintendent Sarah Robbins, Head of Geographical Crime said: “Having someone come into your home and go through your personal possessions can have huge financial and emotional impact on an individual or the whole family.  Sadly there are people out there who want to take what is not theirs. Some of them live in our community, others travel into the county with the intent to cause harm.”

“We are determined to continue to track down and prosecute those responsible for this horrendous crime.  I urge everyone to look at their homes from a burglar’s eye view, and do everything you can to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.  We know that most burglars are opportunists, so there are simple steps that can be taken to make your home or vehicle less appealing.”

“Be aware of your home security and build it in as part of your everyday routine. Locking a ladder away, or a simple step like leaving a light on to make it look like someone is home could make all difference.”

Between June 2018 and June 2019 Wiltshire saw the number of residential burglaries across the county fall by 27 percent.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “I am pleased to see the positive impact that Wiltshire Police are having on burglary figures. The last couple of years have seen changes to the way the Force approaches burglary, we are now seeing the results of a lot of hard work and the focus will continue.  It is important that the Force remains committed to tackling burglary and prosecuting those responsible, but as individuals and a community we have to work together to raise awareness.”

“Although this is done across many streets, towns and villages, community watch schemes such as Horse Watch, Farm Watch and Neighbourhood Watch can also offer a bigger network to share information and advice. Burglary is a devastating crime that could impact anyone so it is important that we look out for each other.”

Crime Prevention Advice – Checklist

• Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when just in the garden. And make sure you have approved locks or bolts to all doors and windows.
• Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like in a plant pot or letterbox – a thief knows all the hiding places
• Register all serial numbers from electrical items, tools and garden equipment with the free national property register. Mark items without serial numbers with an artificial DNA property marker such as Smartwater or SelectaDNA.
• Use a timer to set lights to mimic your usual activity when you are not at home.
• Do not open the door to anyone you don’t know or are not expecting. Always check by using a spy-hole or look through a window. Don’t trust an ID card.
• Trim back any plants and hedges at the front of your property to no higher than one meter to remove hiding places.
• Always report any suspicious activity, note any vehicle registrations, descriptions of persons involved and direction of travel.
• Consider installing a monitored burglar alarm, and only use a company that is registered or certified with the NSI or the SSIAB.
• Take photographs of all jewellery including hallmarks and keep them safe. Make sure that you have up to date contents insurance.
• Keep all keys, purses and wallets out of sight and away from the letterbox.
Crime Scene Investigation information
If you have been burgled our Crime Scene Investigation team advise the following:
• Phone the police immediately on 101 or in an emergency call 999
• Where possible minimise what you touch, especially near the point of entry or items that you believe may have been touched by the offenders
• If you suspect the offender is still inside the property – do not enter, advise the police of this when you ring. Confronting the offender can place you in immediate danger
• If it is practical, wait at a neighbour’s house until the police arrive. If you do need to enter the property; try to locate to one area and try to minimise movement around the house
• Fingerprints, DNA and footwear marks may not be visible so try to avoid walking on smooth, shiny flooring and touching anything that the offender may have touched or handled
• If you find something that you suspect may have been used in the burglary as it was not there previously, point this out to the police
• Preserving evidence is vital. If the item is outside cover the item with a box or something similar to shield it from the elements until the police arrive. Do not touch the item. If you see blood, try to cover this without touching it
• Remember not all items have forensic value. The police are professionally trained to know what items can be used to obtain forensic evidence, do not be upset if a particular item that you think may contain forensic value, is dismissed by police. The most common types of forensic evidence found at crime scenes are fingerprints, DNA and footwear marks.
Suspicious activity in your area? Report it.

Have you seen any suspicious activity in your neighbourhood? Call the police on 101 if you see any of the following:
• Anything suspicious or anyone acting suspicious in your neighbourhood
• Unknown or unexpected doorstep traders – description and dates are vital pieces of information
• Unusual vehicles – vehicle description, registration numbers and direction of travel are vital pieces of information.

If you have any information about offenders or see something suspicious, please call Wiltshire Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. In an emergency dial 999.

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