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Avon & Somerset Constabulary Press Releases

This summer the police ask residents to hide valuables, shut windows and lock doors

Avon and Somerset Police is asking people to take action to protect their homes against burglary when houses are empty over the holidays, and doors and windows are left open in warmer weather.

Around one third of burglaries in the force area are opportunistic ‘walk in’, where the burglar gets in through an unlocked door or open window. So Avon and Somerset Police is launching a new campaign called Be HomeSafe to remind us all to ‘hide valuables, shut windows and lock doors. Don’t make it easy for burglars’.

The campaign is supported by new research which provides an insight into burglar behaviour. The International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology, University of Portsmouth worked with 33 burglars in HMP Bristol and found burglars:

  • commonly used a rear, more secluded route to get in
  • spent most time in bedrooms where smaller, more lucrative items are expected to be found
  • stole small electrical items (video cameras, digital cameras, tablets, iphones and small, high value goods such as wallets and a briefcase)

Detective Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte said: ‘Being a victim of burglary is horrible.  It’s not just the stuff that is stolen, it’s the emotional and psychological impact a burglary can have and the loss of irreplaceable sentimental items, photographs and things that you’ve saved really hard for.

‘We know that often people don’t secure their homes because of the misplaced belief that ‘it won’t happen to me’. But this message straight from the mouths of burglars gives clear advice about the simple steps we all need to take to protect our homes over the summer.

‘We are asking our communities to do everything possible to protect their homes and property so we can help those who need us most and work tirelessly to bring offenders to justice.’

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: ‘Many burglary victims have shared with me how disruptive and upsetting this crime is. Being burgled means more than the inconvenience of an insurance claim and has the potential to ruin your summer.

‘Around 30 per cent of all burglaries could have been avoided, because burglars got in through open windows, unsecured sheds or unlocked doors. I am keen that together, we all do what we can to avoid opportunist thieves.

‘It is important that everyone across Avon and Somerset is safe and feels safe in their homes knowing their property is secure, during the summer months and all year round.’

Dr Claire Nee, Reader in Forensic Psychology, University of Portsmouth who led the research said: ‘Our research can actually teach householders to think a little more like burglars so that they can reduce the opportunity for burglaries. Burglars really don’t want to meet you – so over the summer fake occupancy if you can – for example ask a trusted neighbour to pop in and turn your lights on at night. In our research over 50% of burglars got in through an open door or window so make sure you shut and lock doors at all times.’

To stay safe this summer follow these simple steps to protect your home

Hide

  • Don’t store jewellery, money, sentimental items and things you’ve saved up for in bedroom drawers
  • Lock away tablets, mobile phones, wallets and cards

Shut

  • Close front windows when you’re in the garden or not in the room
  • Close all windows when you leave the house

Lock

  • Install a 5 point mortice lock your doors
  • Ensure you have locks on all windows

Before holiday

  • Use automatic timer switches for lights
  • Don’t leave bins and recycling boxes outside
  • Ask trusted neighbours to keep a look out, turn lights on at night and park on your driveway
  • Avoid discussing holiday plans on public social media

 

Rural Crime

New text number to combat rural crime – 07492 888109

We launched a new text service to help us prevent and detect rural crime in January.

The service was aimed at encouraging rural communities and businesses to help us by providing information and intelligence about suspected crime in their area.

The number allows the public to text information directly to the Rural Crime Team, who assess and action the intelligence quickly and efficiently.

The service is going to continue following its three month trial but the number is changing. The 81819 number, which was also shared with our Drink Drive campaign and other services, is being discontinued and new numbers are being rolled out.

The new Rural Crime number is now 07492 888109 and will working in exactly the same way.

Inspector Joanna Mines, from the Rural Crime Team in Somerset, said: “We trialled the number for three months and have decided to carry on with the service. However, we felt we needed our own specific number and the 81819 number was quite expensive to run. The new number is specifically for Rural Crime and is a lot more cost effective.

“The number came about as many people who belong to our FarmWatch scheme said they wanted a facility to be able to pass on information and respond to messages quickly, and this number has facilitated that.

“We want to hear from anyone who has information about any suspicious or potentially criminal activity in their area, for example – details of people/vehicles seen behaving suspiciously, potentially stolen goods or livestock being offered for sale either to the public or at markets, sightings of stolen vehicles we might put out an alert for.

“No matter how small or insignificant people may think information is, it may be a vital piece of a jigsaw that helps us fill in the gaps and either prevent a crime or bring offenders to justice.”

Messages are currently sent out via text message, voice alert and email to members of the Neighbourhood, Farm and Horse Watch schemes to alert them to crimes and incidents in their area. This new number will allow people to text back information quickly and easily.

Anyone can use it if they have information about rural or agricultural crime in their area, and isn’t just for Watch members.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Rural crime affects the livelihoods of farmers, smallholders and rural businesses and presents some real challenges for the wider rural areas. I know the Rural Crime Team, working closely with our local communities are committed to tackling and preventing crime.

“I know from speaking to residents and farmers that there is a real desire to engage with the police when it comes to tackling rural crime. Providing an appropriate way for our rural communities to contact the police with intelligence will make a real difference to ensuring our countryside is safe and feels safe.”

It is important to note that the number isn’t monitored 24/7. The team will be looking at it when they are on duty, it therefore shouldn’t be used for reporting crimes.

You can report a crime online via our website www.avonandsomerset.police.uk

If it’s a crime which requires an immediate police attendance then dial 999.

The new number is 07492 888109, please text us any information you believe could either help prevent or detect a crime in your area.

You can still pass on information via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call.