Category Archives: Crime prevention

Bicycle security – tips for securing your pride and joy or your summer toy

Matt Lauch is a PCSO from the Peterborough Volume Crime Team. He investigates crimes ranging from criminal damage to assault. Part of his role is to deliver crime prevention messages. Here he provides us with some top tips for securing bicycles.

For many, the summer months are a great time for people to dust off their bikes, pump up the tyres and oil up the chains before venturing off on a leisurely trip in the city or the local countryside.

We often see an increase in cycling for leisure due to the better weather.

This can bring some problems. Cycles are a target for thieves, they can simply seem to disappear off the face of the earth, never to be seen by their owner again.

Cycles are often stripped down for parts or sold on elsewhere, with more expensive bikes being a prime target. Police do recover many cycles and often catch the thieves but there are things you can do to reduce the risk of a theft of your cycle.

No matter where you go, you should always keep your cycle locked and secure in a good location and preferably use a strong Sold Secure Gold Rated D-Lock.

Country parks, where cycles are often used, can be a target location for the cycle thief. Along with caravan and camping parks. Just because an area looks and feels safe, does not mean a cycle thief won’t pay a visit to take a bike or two.

Sheds are also a prime target. Making your shed as secure as possible will slow down a thief. Consider shed alarms and securing any windows. Securing any bikes inside with strong D-Locks and cables, attached to a secure ground bolt or heavy item like a lawnmower, will certainly cause problems for a thief.

Consider recording your cycle details – this will help if your cycle is stolen. Take a photo of the it and any distinguishing features. Record the frame number which is underneath the bike, down by the pedals. This will help police with their enquiries.

Registering your cycle on a website such as immobilise.com or bikeregister.com will help you keep a record of your details. You can also record other valuables on immobilise too.

Top tips:

  • Invest in a Sold Secure Gold Rated D-Lock
  • Mark your bicycle with a BikeRegister.com registration pack or simply mark the frame where you would be able to describe and recognise the mark if found
  • Use a fitted helmet and front and rear lights. It is just as important to secure your bicycle as it is to be safe when riding

Check out our bike security video

 

 

 

Christmas burglaries – you can help yourself: a victim’s view

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Getting excited about Christmas – wow, it’s only three weeks away!

Out shopping looking for those special presents for your family and friends. It’s a great time to spend and enjoy with our families.

What about your house though – did you lock the doors when you left and set the alarm? Will you be getting home after dark? Are any lights on? Does your house look empty?

Caroline lives in a village in Huntingdonshire and was recently a victim of burglary, she said: “I came home from work and very quickly realised that something was wrong – I went into the house and saw that the glass in a rear door had been smashed.

“I checked and found that my bedroom had been searched and my jewellery stolen. It was a horrible experience realising that someone has been in my house and searched through my private things.

“It’s strange, I can see now that my house looked vulnerable. Coming home in the dark – all the other houses in the street had lights on and were occupied – mine just looked like a target.”

Caroline is going to have an alarm fitted and will be using timers to switch lamps on when she is out after dark.

We generally see an increase in dwelling burglaries as Christmas approaches, what with people out shopping for presents and the evenings drawing in.

Coming home to a burglary is a very unpleasant experience at any time of the year, but there are some simple things you can do to help reduce that chance:

  • Consider an alarm if you don’t already have one and make sure you use it – they are not necessarily as expensive as you think
  • Make your house look occupied – put lamps on timers when you are out after dark and consider using a fake TV box (google fake TV), these can also be used with timers
  • Don’t leave Christmas presents on show or put them under the tree until the last minute
  • Don’t leave empty boxes outside on show for people to see what you have got

For more security advice visit the constabulary website here http://www.cambs.police.uk/crimeprevention/, here you will find an interactive house with lots of advice and up to date British Standards, you can also complete a home security check.

Wishing you all a very merry, and crime-free, Christmas!
Huntingdonshire Crime Reduction Officer, Dave Griffin

The power of Restorative Justice – a victim of crime’s perspective

Restorative Justice (RJ) helps victims of crime move on with their lives by giving them the opportunity to meet the offender. Here we tell the touching story of how it helped one distraught victim come to terms with what had happened. The real names of those involved have been changed.

It’s a crime many might consider low-level and commonplace but when Helen’s handbag was stolen from her car it had a devastating effect.

It contained irreplaceable pictures of her late husband, the only contact details for a long-standing friend and her driving licence, which left her afraid in her own home.

But five months later, 62-year-old Helen was given an opportunity that changed everything.

Through Restorative Justice, she met the thief who had caused all the upset and anxiety and the meeting helped her to a better place.

The meeting was voluntary for both parties and in a safe environment with a trained practitioner to direct proceedings.

Helen explained to prolific 35-year-old thief William, from Peterborough, that on the night of the crime in February this year, she was dropping off flowers to a friend who had helped her out at a charity event she had organised the night before.

The event was to celebrate a charity she and others had set up some years ago for victims of severe burns but was now closing after a number of the founders had died. The charity was close to Helen’s heart, as her daughter had suffered severe burns, but with only her and another founder, who had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness, remaining, the hard decision was made to shut it down.

After dropping the flowers off at the friend’s house in Peterborough she went back to her car and the bag was gone. Incredulous, Helen went back to the filling station she had been to earlier thinking maybe she had left the bag there but after sitting for an hour going through CCTV, it showed she had left with her bag so she called the police.

She then listed to William the things that had been in the bag and were now lost, among them: more than £400, which was part of the money raised in the raffle at the charity event; perfume (a gift from a friend); reading glasses; birthday money vouchers; her driving licence (which had given her sleepless nights for a week and resulted in her buying a new home alarm system); her only address book, which was the contact for her friends, and the photos of her late husband.

Helen was visibly emotional as she explained that everything else could be replaced apart from these pictures.

William also broke down in tears and apologised for what he had done.

He had been with his ex-girlfriend at the time and had taken the handbag after noticing Helen’s car was unlocked. He spent the money on drugs for them both and gave the perfume to the ex-girlfriend.

The bag is now lost but William, who was caught by police and admitted the offence in March this year, said he would search the streets in a bid to retrieve it.

Helen said it was good to look William in the eye at the conference and have the opportunity to speak to and help him.

She said: “It was quite a shock and I had a sickening feeling when it first happened. It took a while to sink in and it didn’t help having so much in my bag that I didn’t realise I had.

“I’m afraid I still carry as much in my bag but I have now made a list for the future: we women have no idea what we carry in our handbags.”

Anyone who would like to inquire about RJ should call 0800 7816818 or email restorativejustice@cambs.pnn.police.uk

There is also more information, including online videos and the different models of RJ, on the force website at Restorative Justice

Insight into the mind of a bike thief

Below is an interview carried out by the Metropolitan Police with a prolific cycle thief. It makes very interesting reading and gives an insight into the behaviour of anyone who is prepared to be involved in this type of crime.

Not all offenders are the same though, their methods differ, some target sheds, others communal hallways and some bikes which are locked in the street. Some are more ‘professional’ and cautious than others, but what is clear is the lengths some offenders will go to, to steal a bike.

Why steal bikes as opposed to other types of crimes?Bike-basket

I’ve always been comfortable with bikes, I can strip them down and put them back together really easily. You can take them places where you can’t take a car and stay of the beaten track so they’re easy to move around. I like the thrill of stealing them and I can make a lot of money. One week I made £7,500. What did you do with all that money? Blew it, bookies, weed, drunk for England, meals out.

On any given day, what would make you think ‘I need to go out and steal’?

I did it all the time, it’s what I did for a job. I’d go out every night for hours and hours. I’d go out during the day and do the spotting but all the stealing was done at night. Often I had orders, I knew loads of people, I was known as the ‘bike man’ and people would introduce me to someone who wanted a bike. The rest of it went on Gumtree.

How much planning did you do before you went out?

I’d often get the orders over the weekend and then go out during the week. I’d know where I wanted to hit and I’d do an area for a few days, Barnes for example, I caned it, but then you know the police will get themselves organised so I’d move on before that happened and go somewhere else.

Was it ever to demand? Were you asked to steal specific bikes?

I’d only steal decent stuff that I could get a return on. I’d rather go home empty handed than take rubbish. I sold a lot to foreign people, Poles for example, they all wanted bikes and I sold a lot to them.

Was it ever just taking an opportunity?

Not usually, I’d like to be careful. Go out in the dark, stay out of sight, I’d go nowhere that was covered by CCTV. I’d know pretty much where all the cameras were. I got caught by CCTV once at a school, but that was stupid and I didn’t make the mistake again.

How would you select an area/street?

I did mainly sheds. I’d have a bike out of the garden if people were stupid enough to leave it there, but mainly I was looking for sheds and I’d garden hop from one to the other. If there was a rear alleyway that would be useful because it kept me out of sight but it was also good to move the bikes that way.

What would make something an attractive target? What type of bike are you looking for?

The better the bike the better the return, so if I could get a really expensive model I’d take it, but I’d take anything that I could sell on and I was stealing lots.

What would put you off? Is there anything else that would make you change your plans?

Seeing the police at the start of the night, if it looked like they were around the area as opposed to driving through. Also seeing magpies. If I saw one I’d carry on thieving, if I saw two I’d go home. Funny little superstition.

It would take a lot otherwise, I could break into any shed pretty much if I had a screwdriver and sometimes bolt cutters. The only thing that would stop me would be an alarm on the shed. If an alarm went off I’d jump the fence and run and get as many streets away as possible before the police turned up.

Dogs were no problem, I’m not frightened of dogs, they were more frightened of me. I’d get down on the ground roll around and play and they were fine. I had one that actually whined when I stopped playing and jumped back over the fence.

Would you always operate/steal in the same way?

Sheds were my thing and I could almost always get in. I’d undo the screws, so the best thing you could do would be to use those screws that you can only tighten, you can’t undo. They’re really frustrating.

I could pretty much cut any bolt off and I’d look for quality. A quality padlock meant something interesting inside, but if you’re going to have a padlock you should make it a big thick one. I’ve taken the hinges off quite a lot but the other thing was, if all else failed, I’d lie on my back and force the roof off with my feet. They’re only nailed on, then I’d put it back on afterwards.

How do you do it?

Often then I’d lay them up, hide them somewhere nearby and go back the following morning. Sometimes I’d hide them in the same garden. If I had a few to collect I might go back with a mate and a car, otherwise I’d ride them back or maybe get a train.

If the bike had a good lock on it that I couldn’t get off there and then I’d use the angle grinder when I got home. Wire locks aren’t worth bothering with, there’s not a wire lock I can’t crop. D locks are the thing you should have but most people don’t lock bikes in the shed. Why do people spend hundreds, even thousands on a bike and then buy a lock from Poundland? There are some locks that are so poor you can open them with your bare hands. I took one that was padlocked to a lamppost just by wrenching the bike away. The lock just fell off.

What would you do if you were disturbed, for example by police or an owner?

Hide, get myself into a hiding place, a bush or something and lie as still as I could. I could hear my own heart beating but usually I wasn’t found.

How would you get to the area you were working in?

Cycle, walk, bus, train, any way really.

How quickly would you want to get rid of the property after the theft? Did you ever take it home?

My rule was never spend the day with a bike. The stuff for Gumtree would be at my house for a while but if it was an order I’d ring the people in the morning and tell them to get round the house, collect the bike and pay. I’d been out all night, the least they could do was come to me to collect.

How would you get rid of it?

It was all done at the house. I’d never take the bikes anywhere to do the deal.

The next two questions provide particularly good responses in terms of crime prevention advice.

Do you know what happened to them after you got rid of them?

They were to use, they’re being ridden around now. But people are stupid they never record the details of the bike anywhere. I’ve been stopped on stolen bikes and there’s no record of them anywhere so you go on your way.

A lot of bikes go on to Gumtree particularly in the summer, that’s when most are shifted. You know the police are looking at these sites but there’s so much stuff on there they can’t keep up with it.

What’s your best advice to anyone who owns a bike?

Invest in a decent lock, get a D lock or anything that costs. The more expensive the lock the better it is going to be.

Make it hard. There’s a triangle of metal just behind the saddle column, and that’s made like it is for the purpose of locking your bike securely, but people don’t know that. Put your lock through there and you should be able to get it through your back wheel.

Take your quick release front wheel off and lock it to the back one. People sometimes put the lock through the front wheel. That’s fine, I’ll have the rest of the bike and get myself another front wheel. You should never lock it below the handlebars. An Allen Key will get the handlebar column off.

Who calls the shots?

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As we approach the holiday season it’s likely that at some point we’ll be getting into the festive spirit with a quiet drink down the local pub, the office Christmas party or a night out with friends.

While some may not remember everything the next morning, it’s important we all remember this message – a drunken brawl in the street or a pub could change your life forever.

Whether it’s a lengthy prison sentence as the instigator or life-changing injuries as the victim, the consequences of alcohol-fuelled violence continue long after the effects of the booze have worn off.

Victims of drunken assaults can suffer horrendous injuries, from glass attacks which can be fatal or result in permanent scarring to the face, to sustained beatings even after a victim has been knocked unconscious.

You are more likely to get involved in a fight while under the influence of alcohol as you are not fully in control of your actions or aware of your surroundings and other people, but just remember, one punch could result in the death or serious injury to the victim.

If you are thinking of heading out on a drinking session, we’re asking you to think very hard about the potential consequences of losing your temper – don’t risk waking up in a hospital bed or a prison cell, don’t let alcohol call the shots.

Just remember, one punch could shatter your world.

Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas,
PC Grahame Robinson,
Peterborough Licensing Officer