Protect Yourself and your Property
In this page, we set out to offer advice to protect yourself from crimes against the person, protecting your property, protecting your home, protecting your vehicle, etc. The following advice is based on Safer Bromley Partnership publications and information culled from a number of other websites.
Metropolitan Police general advice is set out here
Burglaries: Protecting your Keys (and your car, house, etc)
uPVC doors can be opened from the outside if not locked with a key inside. Remove the key after locking and put away safely (but easy for you to find in case of emergency). Lifting the inside door handle is not sufficient to protect the door. This has been happening on and off for some time now but has increased recently.
As vehicle security is improved by manufacturers, it’s become harder to steal cars by breaking into them. Do not leave car keys in the hall or handbags in view of the front door. Put these away and out of view. Thieves are able to “fish” through your letterbox to steal keys hanging on hooks near the letterbox or left on nearby tables etc. Whilst this is the best method of protection, you should also ensure you are able to exit as quickly as possible. Therefore, the advice is that you keep house keys upstairs or store them near the door, out of sight, for easy access in an emergency.
By adding this simple step to your routine, it is possible to dramatically reduce your chance of becoming a victim of burglary. Always ensure uPVC doors are double locked, as otherwise they can be opened by putting an implement through the letterbox and lowering the door handle.
Bromley Police’s Safer Transport Teams, British Transport Police and Transport for London are continuing to crack down on pickpockets on public transport across Bromley. In support, British Transport Police have produced videos detailing some of the tricks of the pick-pockets, to warn people of the tell-tale signs. These are well worth spending a few minutes viewing here
Sergeant Samantha Dyson from Bromley Police’s Safer Transport Team said: “In addition to our policing tactics to catch perpetrators, we are engaging with the public to ensure they are as security conscious as possible and make it even more difficult for thieves to operate on the transport network. Specialist pickpocket squads are out on the network every day spotting pickpockets and arresting them. Our message is clear: if you commit a crime on the transport network we will identify you and arrest you” Tips to remember when travelling:
- Keep your possessions with you, fully zipped and out of sight at all times.
- Never keep your wallet or mobile phone in your back pocket.
- Keep your handbag over your shoulder diagonally and if possible with your coat.
- Try to have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so your purse or wallet is out of sight.
- Stay alert, especially in large crowds and be aware of the activities of people around you.
- If you see anything suspicious report it to a police officer or member of staff.
Protect Valuables, Mobile Phones, etc by Registering them: A service exists, the Immobilise service, for you to register your property so that if your phone, bike, computer or any other registered item is lost or stolen you can use Immobilise to instantly tell police, insurers, and the second-hand trade. These actions can help greatly in the recovery of your property and capture of thieves. For more information, or to register, visit http://www.immobilise.com/
Whilst talking of mobile phones, never use the cell phone while it is hooked to an electrical outlet! If you are charging the cell phone and a call comes in, unplug it from the charger and outlet. There has been at least one case of a cellphone exploding in these circumstances.
Many burglaries are crimes of opportunity. A burglar only needs to spot an open window, unlocked side gate or dodgy alarm to make their move. Think about it – if you know your home security looks poor, so will a thief. Statistics show that properties with little security are 10 times more likely to be burgled than those with good security so be vigilant by following the advice below:
Don’t give thieves an open house
- Close and lock all windows and doors when you leave the house, it is possible to enter a house through even a small window.
- Fit deadlocks to all outside doors (Burglars hate them because you need a key to open them from the inside as well as the outside).
- Fit key-operated locks to all windows (Burglars don’t like having to break glass because of the noise it makes and the risk of leaving forensic evidence).
- Make sure the deadlock keys, window keys, spare keys, etc aren’t in an obvious place.
- If you are upstairs or another part of your house, don’t leave downstairs doors open.
- Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like under a doormat, in a flowerpot or inside a letterbox.
- Install a visible burglar alarm, and use it!
- Don’t leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house.
- Always lock tools and ladders away.
- Make sure you put your car keys and door keys away. Never leave them on view from a window or the front door.
- Take photographs of valuable property and store them separately with details of where they have been marked. If stolen, Police can circulate pictures to dealers who can look out for them. Also, take time to register property at http://www.immobilise.com.
- Lastly, leave lights and the radio on a timer for the evening so it looks like someone is at home.
- Fit a good lock on any door leading to your garden.
- Fit substantial locks to your shed door. The fittings should be bolted through the shed door and reinforced at the back with a steel plate. Any hasp should have concealed screws.
- Mark property such as power tools, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers and garden furniture with your postcode, and consider fitting security cages inside sheds or garages and keep valuable equipment inside them.
- Check with your insurance company that your policy covers items stored in garages, sheds and outbuildings and remember, if you don’t put your equipment away or lock it up, your insurance company probably won’t compensate you.
- Remember to cancel milk and newspaper deliveries.
- Uncollected mail is a sign you’re away. Royal Mail’s ‘Keepsafe’ service will keep your mail for up to two months while you are away.
- Mow your lawn just before you go away or ask a neighbour to do it while you’re on holiday. This makes it look like you’re still around.
- Lights on timers are a good deterrent.
- Don’t tell too many people you are going away.
- Consider giving someone you trust a spare key and your alarm code in case a problem occurs. They may also be happy to open and close curtains to make the house look more lived in.
- If you and your family need to travel to the airport or station, ask a friend to take you in their car. If you take a taxi or minicab, use a firm known to you and you can trust. In addition, if you leave your car in the drive it can give the impression you are still at home.
If there is a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area then members will probably be only too happy to help out.
Extra Precautions for Older People
Older people may feel more vulnerable to some crimes but they are actually less likely to become victims. A few simple steps can also help increase your safety even further:
- Don’t keep large amounts of cash at home – use a bank account instead.
- Look after your pension book carefully. Always follow the advice on bogus callers.
Many councils have security schemes that are aimed at older or more vulnerable people. You could ask them for advice.
Most people who come to your door will be genuine callers but it’s best to make sure. Fitting a door chain or spy hole will help you check who the caller is – your landlord or council may be able to help with this. Keep your doors and windows locked. Before opening the door, stop and think. Are you expecting anyone? Are the back door and windows locked so no-one can sneak in? Put the door chain on. Check the caller’s identity; genuine callers will not mind waiting outside while you contact their company. Most companies now have a password scheme. If you are in any doubt, don’t let them in. Ask them to make an appointment to come back at another time.
You hear about people having their bag snatched or their mobile phone stolen. In fact, the chances of it happening to you or your family are low and there are plenty of things you can do to make it even less likely, such as:
- Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards. Keep it zipped up, and make sure your wallet or purse can’t be seen.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
- Spread your possessions about – for example, keep your mobile phone separate from your purse, and your keys separate from your credit card.
- Cover up any expensive jewellery and, if you must carry other valuables, be discreet.
- Talking on your mobile, wearing headphones or carrying a laptop all show thieves you have things worth taking.
- Have your house keys ready so you can get in the front door quickly – and carry them on you, not in your bag.
Purse Bells are available from Bromley Council. The idea of the purse bell is for one to be attached to a purse, wallet or handbag to draw attention should anyone try to interfere with it. We encourage vulnerable shoppers who may be targeted by pickpockets.
If your mobile phone is stolen, visit www.immobilise.com and have the phone blocked.
Vehicle crime has actually fallen by over 30% during the last five years. Even so, there are still more than two million vehicle-related thefts each year and a lot of them could be prevented. It seems incredible but we often hear reports of residents leaving their vehicles unlocked overnight. Please Don’t!
- If possible, remove your vehicle from the street and park it in a drive or garage if you have one.
- Always keep your car locked. This includes closing the sunroof and windows, even if you only leave it for a few seconds. That’s all it takes for a criminal to steal your car or belongings.
- Don’t leave anything in your car, particularly when it’s parked overnight. 68% of thefts of and from vehicles happen when they are parked outside the home.
- Park with care. Park in busy or well-Ill areas near CCTV cameras, or in police-approved car parks (look out for ‘ParkMarkTM’ on signs) if possible:. You can find out which car parks are approved at www.saferparking.com
You’re more than twice as likely to have your vehicle broken into than stolen. On average, that means paying out £100 -just for the repairs.
- Never leave the keys in the ignition, not even in a garage when you are paying for petrol.
- Fit a stereo with a removable front panel (also known as a fascia) – and take it with you when you leave the car.
- Never leave car documents or spare keys inside the car. Hide them at home, but not by the door. Thieves will use a hook and cane through the letterbox to steal car keys from hall tables.
- Have a professionally fitted car alarm or a Thatcham-approved electronic immobiliser through an approved installer. Try Systems Installation Board at www.vsib.co.uk or use a steering lock on older cars. You can find information on products that have been tested by Thatcham at (phone 01635 868855) or by Sold Secure at (phone 01327 264687).
- Have your car’s registration number etched onto all glass surfaces, including the windscreen and headlamps.
- When driving, keep doors locked and windows up, especially in slow traffic. Keep bags and mobile phones out of view. A thief can lean in and steal what’s on your passenger seat in the time it takes for a red light to turn green.
- If you’re leaving your car, put shopping or anything else in the boot if you can’t take it with you.
- When returning to a parked car, particularly in a car park or even on your front driveway, if you have already entered when you notice a message on the front or rear windscreen, don’t step out to read it but move away from the area first. There have been many incidents where the owner steps out to remove the note and a thief jumps in and drives off.
- If you are driving at night and eggs are thrown at your windscreen, do not stop to check the car, do not operate the wiper and do not spray any water because eggs mixed with water become milky and block your vision up to 92.5%. You are then forced to stop beside the road and become a victim. This is a new technique used by gangs, so please inform your friends and relatives.
More and more people are cycling, and this means more bicycles are in use. Unfortunately, more bicycles mean more opportunity for theft. Bicycles can be some of the easiest vehicles for thieves and vandals to target. The British Crime Survey reports more than half a million bicycles are stolen each year.
- Buy a good-quality lock because chains can be easily cut. D-locks or combination locks are best, but a good bicycle shop or DIY store can advise you. You could even use two locks for extra security (and to make thieves think it’s not worth trying to steal your bike).
- Always lock both wheels and keep the lock off the ground. This makes it harder to break.
- Take away any extras, like lights and helmets.
- Keep a record of the make, model and colour of your bike in a safe place. Turn the cycle upside down and look for the frame number on the hub, where the pedals are attached. If the worst happens and your bike goes missing, this information can be made available to every officer in the area through the computerised recording system.
- Always chain bikes to something fixed like security rails and ground anchors.
- If possible, at work, for example, remove the front wheel and take it with you.
- If you have a cycle carrier on your car and regularly use it, don’t leave the car and bikes in isolated places. Park in the busiest areas of car parks where lighting and visibility are good. Look for the Park Mark logo.
- Try not to leave bikes unattended on the rear of vehicles in car parks or service stations but, if you have to leave them unattended, make sure they’re well-secured with good cabling and locks and that the carrier itself cannot be removed easily. Try backing up against a wall or fence so they’re not accessible.
- Take out insurance, either by extending your home contents insurance or through a separate policy.
Motorbikes and scooters are popular targets for thieves because they can be sold easily or broken up for parts, which are harder to trace.
- Put a steering lock on and use a strong steel cable or D-lock to attach your bike to security rails or ground anchors.
- Get a professionally fitted combined alarm and immobiliser (you can find an approved installer through the Vehicle Systems Installation Board at www.vsib.co.uk. Thatcham and Sold Secure can advise you on the best products.
- If you’ve got a garage, use it. Or, cover your motorbike or scooter when you’re not using it.
Always chain bikes, motorbikes and scooters to something fixed like security rails and ground anchors.
Your caravan is vulnerable everywhere and can be a very easy target for thieves if you don’t take sensible precautions. It is equally vulnerable when parked in your driveway, on a holiday caravan site, parked in a remote country location, or even when in transit. Even if you are only stopping for a short time in a lay-by or at a motorway service station, it’s important to protect it.
- Make sure it can’t be towed away by locking the tow bar and putting wheel clamps on one or more wheels.
- Keep it locked, windows closed, etc when it is not in use o you are away from it.