Scams and Older People
Child Sexual Exploitation
Loneliness and Vulnerability
Interior (high-value items, timed lighting, security marking, safes)
Most houses these days have property inside which is attractive to the opportunist criminal: cash, jewellery, TVs, laptops, tablets, gaming kit, small electrical items etc. Large amounts of cash and expensive jewellery should not be kept in the house unless adequately protected. You should consult your insurance company about these items and their protection.
Prepare an inventory of all items of value. The inventory should include descriptions of items and their value. Take photos of your jewellery and other valuables, and try to include a ruler in the photograph to give some indication of size.
Hide your valuables
Ensure that any items a thief might be interested in can’t be seen through your windows. Don’t leave jewellery, phones, tablets or laptops in view, and unplug chargers and cables while you’re not using them. Leaving these plugged in and trailing from sockets tells burglars that you own these high-value devices.
You can choose to permanently mark your high-value items with your postcode and house number. In theory, property marking makes it harder for an offender to sell the stolen object and it could also implicate the offender in the crime if he or she is found with the goods by the police.
There are various methods of security marking items. One cheap but effective method is the use of an ultraviolet pen or marker, invisible to the naked eye but clear under UV light. This can be used on wood, metal, pottery or canvas, but fades in time so marks need to be rewritten on a regular basis. You can pick these up for as little as £1 from stationery shops.
Another technique is to use a diamond-tipped marker or scribe. This is used on metal surfaces and the postcode is etched onto the surface permanently. For pottery and porcelain a ceramic marker should be used. Avoid this method if you might damage the item or reduce its value.
A more sophisticated – and more expensive – method of property marking is to use forensic coding solution kits, such as SmartWater, Applied DNA Sciences or Stealth Mark (please note, Neighbourhood Watch does not officially endorse any of these products.) The marking solution comes in grease, liquid or spray form and is very hard to remove. It is invisible until scanned with UV light. Once discovered, a swab sample is taken of the solution and as each sample contains a unique identifier, the owner of that property can be located.
Whatever method you choose, you should always put up signs or window stickers at the front and rear of the home to warn any potential offenders that all property is marked and identifiable. Your local police may be able to provide stickers.
Register your serial numbers, for electrical items including mobile phones, and also bicycles, at www.immobilise.com. This helps police to identify stolen property if they recover it.
Safes can be useful for securing valuables but they must be good quality (probably several hundred pounds’ worth), and they must be secured to a wall or floor. Home safes are insurance-rated according to the type and value of the items they are bought to protect, so you should check this with your insurer.
Position the safe so it won’t be easily found; and definitely not in a bedroom as this is the most obvious location for a burglar.
And remember – a home safe is only effective if you actually use it.
Internal locks and keys
Remove keys from locks while at home but always keep your house keys out of sight in the house. Consider taking your house keys into your bedroom at night, as it’s good to have them to hand if you need to get out in an emergency.
Timed and security lighting
Inside the home, light-sensitive switches, time switches or programmed switches are a good method of ensuring the house is lit at the right times. Don’t just have the hall light on when you’re not in – have lights timed to come on in all the rooms periodically.
A fake TV simulator is another neat trick to give the appearance that someone is at home watching TV. This low-cost (around £12) plug-in lighting unit flickers randomly in a similar way to a television. Use in an upstairs room while you’re out of the house.
You can also set plug-in timers for your radio.
Here are the questions from the Interior section of the Burglary Prevention Checklist in the Toolkit, and the answers you ought to give in red:
1. Are doors kept locked with the keys removed, kept out of sight/reach, but to hand in case of emergency? Yes
2. Do you use timer switches and/or a fake TV unit when leaving the house unoccupied? Yes
3. Are items such as cash, car keys, laptops, jewellery, phones kept out of view? Yes
4. Are chargers and cables for laptops or iPads kept out of view? Yes
5. Have you created a written and photographic record of items of value? Yes