Friday, March 26, 2010

Home insurance warning over garden theft

Homeowners have been told to check their home insurance policies, as the season for green fingered garden thieves draws near.
With the clocks going forward this weekend, British Summertime officially begins.
Yet with the lighter evenings and warmer weather comes an increased risk of gardens being burgled.
Theft from gardens increased by 58% during the summer months compared with the winter months last year, Halifax has revealed, with the average cost of replacing stolen items amounting to £429.
As a consequence, homeowners have been urged to check their home insurance policies to make sure they are covered should they become a victim of garden theft.
"Homeowners can forget to pay as much attention to security of the outside of the home," said senior claims manager for Halifax Home Insurance, Martyn Foulds.
"But with many people realising how much value they can add to their property by improving their gardens, there are rich pickings for thieves."

(Reproduced from March 25th)

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Police widen Moorwatch scheme to crack down on remote crime

POLICE are getting tough on thieves who use Dartmoor as their location of choice for committing crime.
Police are about to relaunch their successful Moorwatch campaign to crack down on those who use the remoteness of the moor to break the law.
Police, with partner agencies, are urging residents to play their part and be vigilant.
The campaign was originally set up to tackle vehicle crime on the moor during the peak tourist months.
This year it has been expanded to incorporate other crimes.
During the last 12 months there has been a marked increase in burglaries from garden sheds and outbuildings.
Most have been committed at night and police believe those responsible have used a vehicle to make a quick getaway with the loot.
Police are urging residents, particularly those in the Chagford and Moretonhampstead areas, to be particularly vigilant and to make sure all outbuildings are properly secured and property is security marked.
Sergeant Fran Bennett, crime reduction officer for the Teignbridge area, is working on the campaign.
She said: "Although crime on the moorland area is relatively low in comparison to other parts of the country, the types of crime are very specific.
"Tourists flock to the area every year, and are vulnerable to car crime, as they often leave their vehicles in remote spots.
"We want to educate as well as enforce and will be working with partner agencies to do so.
"Vehicle crime isn't the only problem. The moor suffers from other crimes such as theft from outbuildings. Farming equipment is very valuable and is sought after by thieves as there is a ready black market.
"Property which is particularly vulnerable are quad bikes, ride-on mowers, expensive gardening equipment and horse tack.
"We urge all of the farming community to be particularly vigilant and to ensure all machinery and vehicles are secure when not being used.
"We are determined to keep Dartmoor the beautiful low-crime area that it always has been for residents and visitors.
"This is why the agencies are working together to keep a watchful eye over the moor."
Other agencies involved in Moorwatch are the Dartmoor National Park Authority, and the farming groups such as the Dartmoor Partnership and the Dartmoor Commoners Association.
Sgt Bennett added: "Much of the policing will be driven by the neighbourhood teams who will be supported by their patrol colleagues.
"We will be making sure drivers keep to the speed limits as well as using the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to detect and deter known criminals."

(Reproduced from The South Devon Herald Express, March 22nd)

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

SelectaDNA reduces burglary and the fear of crime on Middlesborough housing estate

Since June 2008, Coast & Country Housing Association has been upgrading the Grangetown North housing estate to a more modern community through the improvement and renovation of over 340 properties. Part of the process has been the use of hundreds of SelectaDNA forensic property marking kits in order to reduce and deter theft of valuables on the estate.
Eighteen months after the launch of a regeneration scheme involving the use of SelectaDNA on a Middlesborough housing estate, both burglary and the fear of crime have been reduced. As burglary rates have dropped, this has had the knock-on effect of improving residents’ morale by creating a safer environment to live and reducing the fear of crime. The scheme is being supported by Cleveland Police and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.
The marking of residents’ property is being carried out jointly by housing staff, police PCSOs, and community wardens.SelectaDNA works by irrefutably linking criminals to burglaries and break-ins. The product consists of a water-based adhesive containing a locked-in DNA code, a UV tracer and a series of microdots which can be easily applied to any items of value, such as laptops, computer equipment, TVs, DVD players, iPods and mobile phones.
Coast & Country’s Andrea Todd said: “Not only have we been marking personal items belonging to residents such as small electrical items and garden equipment, but we have also been marking our own property such as boilers and copper piping. Using SelectaDNA makes it very difficult for thieves to sell items like these on if they have already been marked.” She continued: “The upgrading programme at Grangetown North has been a big success and SelectaDNA has played a large part in that.”
Inspector Guy Hall, from Cleveland Police, said: “SelectaDNA has been effective in reducing burglary on the estate, and in particular has played an important role in reducing the fear of crime among residents who were previously living in a high crime area.”

(Reproduced from, March 17th)

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Two-legged garden pests

It’s spring so Dyfed-Powys Police has launched a defensive planting initiative to keep your garden safe! We are always being reminded about how to keep your property safe, but Dyfed-Powys Police is highlighting one method that doesn’t include a lock, alarm or security lighting – its good old fashioned flora! Defensive planting is nature’s way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves won’t want to force their way through or over a prickly hedge – especially as only the smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help the Police identify the offender. So what can you do to keep your garden safe?

“There are a variety of ways to combat garden crime by going down the environmentally-friendly route,” says Powys Chief Superintendent Steve Hughson. “Professional thieves are fully aware that gardens can sometimes have very expensive and sought-after property, such as garden tools like lawnmowers and strimmers. Gardens also contain substantial amounts of heating oil, which needs to be protected.” Dyfed-Powys Police is highlighting methods, which demonstrates the advantages of defensive planting. Prickly shrubs can, if planted around your oil-tank for instance, provide an effective and decorative deterrent. Chief Superintendent Steve Hughson adds: “Members of the community should feel reassured that this type of crime is very rare. However, everyone needs to be vigilant in protecting their own property and reporting suspicious activity in their area. To help support this Neighbourhood Policing Teams across the county are visible and there to engage with, and support residents to provide security advice where necessary.”

Celebrity Garden designer and broadcaster Lynne Allbutt is also backing the initiative. She says: “I am used to advising people on more traditional garden pests. It’s a shame the two-legged type are also entering gardens uninvited. “Prevention is better than cure and I want people to take responsibility for garden security with easy solutions such as not storing expensive garden tools in greenhouses. This time of year people might buy a new lawnmower or hedge-trimmer, so it’s important that they are careful not to leave empty product boxes outside their property – as this can invite criminals.” Lynne highlights that as well as ‘defensive planting’, there are several other aspects to consider keeping your garden safe and sound, and they include:
Repair all broken or damaged fence panels and fix gaps in your boundaries. Holes in a fence or hedge are like ‘welcome’ signs to a thief.
Consider placing trelliswork carefully. In the wrong place it can act like a ladder, allowing easy access for an intruder. Trellis work fixed to the wall of a house, for example, can provide access straight to a bedroom window.
Instead of locating a shed out of sight in your garden, re-think your design and incorporate it as a feature or focal point. This way it can be positioned within sight of the house making it a safer place to keep your tools and belongings. Paint it the same colour as an adjoining fence and also colour co-ordinate benches and other woodwork for maximum visual impact.
Choose a building that is part shed, part summer house or add a pergola to a simple shed to enhance its appeal.
Don’t store valuable tools and things in an old greenhouse, where they’re on full view; give the greenhouse away and buy a shed if you need the storage.
To ensure you get the best out of your planting: Use prickly shrubs such as Berberis Julianae or Ilex. Use low shrubs where necessary so that natural surveillance will not be impeded.
Water features can also form part of a defensive boundary.
Lay gravel, to hear people or vehicles approaching.
Residents who have heating oil in storage tanks are advised:Be aware of your oil levels and check frequently. Where possible keep your levels low and the same when re-filling. Speak to your supplier with regards to more frequent but smaller deliveries. If you have a plastic tank, consider erecting trellis-style fencing around the tank with one end hinged and locked for filling purposes. If you have a steel tank, then fit a quality anti-cut close-shackled padlock.
If you have outside security lighting, then please ensure that the system works and that the light sensors have been adjusted correctly to detect movement.

(Reproduced from 8th March 2010)

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Keeping Horsham homes secure in spring

WITH THE approach of milder weather many people will soon be out in the garden and the Horsham District Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership is asking residents to think about the security of gardens, garages and sheds.
The value of property stored in gardens, sheds and garages is often more than may be first imagined. Lawnmowers, power tools, ornaments, sports equipment, cycles and toys are amongst those items most often taken by thieves. Alan Haffenden, a Crime Prevention Officer for Sussex Police, said: "Most burglaries happen at the rear of premises; burglars are lazy and are looking for easy ways to get into a house or garden. They will often use tools from sheds or garages to break into a house."
Some tips from Sussex Police to increase security include:
Securely lock away tools and ladders.
Consider movement operated lights at the front and back.
Identifiable security marked property can deter burglars because it is harder for a thief to sell and can help the Police to return it if found: Uniquely security mark property with the postcode followed by house number or first two letters of the house name. Engrave or etch wherever possible, if not, use an ultraviolet marker pen.
Secure the garden: Lock side and rear gates. Consider prickly planting to provide nature's own barrier to stop intruders, but keep it pruned to prevent concealment.
For more information, go to the Sussex Police website or pick up the 'How safe is your garden' leaflet available at Police Stations. Alternatively contact the Horsham District Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership on 01403 215124, or email

(Reproduced from West Sussex County Times, 6th March)

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