Andy, who is not a policeman, but works for the South Yorkshire Police in the Community Safety Dept. is clearly dedicated and committed to Crime Reduction.
Along with giving talks to the general public on crime awareness, supporting victims of crime, detecting crime and liaising with other authorities, he works at the Lifewise Centre at Hellaby, Rotherham, (www.lifewise999.co.uk) where there is a mock up for learning interactively through realistic crime scenarios delivered in a lifelike street scene, and where children are regular visitors to their Crucial Crew events.
‘Operation Liberal’ has been launched to raise awareness of crime among the over-60’s. These include muggings/robberies, rogue traders, fraud/scams, cyber crime, and distraction burglary. Of all these, Distraction Burglary is the worst, and committed mainly by people who travel from a distance. The trauma felt by victims can be devastating.
Criminals are always on the look-out for opportunities and signs of home security lapses. They target the vulnerable, the old, the lonely, or disabled. Any evidence of old folk, like handrails and signs, is a giveaway.
Andy gave us information and examples of criminality in abundance, among which was an example of distraction burglary on a 92 year old lady. Someone posing as a ‘Water Board’ Inspector (which no longer exists) who needed access to her property, enabled a large theft to take place, when she was not looking. The solution is to refuse anyone entry, or pretend you have a Police Officer in the house, or to use the Yorkshire Water scheme called ‘Helping Hands’ where the householder has to ask the inspector for a password.
If it’s a Police Officer at the door, keep the chain on the door, and ask for the collar number, where they are based and who is their boss and then check it out. Always ask for I.D.
An example of property repair maintenance was a rogue trader, who offered kindly to replace one roof tile for £50, which ultimately became 10 tiles for £500. The workmen then became aggressive until they paid up.
The majority of robberies are committed on the 17 to 23 year old. Students who are not street wise, have expensive mobile phones, and lead a life which makes them vulnerable.
Fraud or Scams can be either by telephone, post or internet.
‘Think Jessica’ (www.(thinkjessica.com/marilyns-story) is a campaign started by Marilyn Baldwin , Jessica Baldwin’s daughter, in 2007, to raise awareness about postal and telephone fraud. Criminals brainwash vulnerable people by bombarding them with offers and psychologically convincing them it is true. Telephone handsets can have ‘Call Blocker’ built into them and mail can be re-directed. Another telephone preference system is ‘True Call’ (www.truecall.co.uk), and using an answerphone is another ploy.
Internet fraud can come in many forms such as Romance scams, stolen identities, PayPal scams, bank scams and Microsoft computer virus scams.
Charities can be aggressive and pester people to commit to Direct Debits, and then sell on the details of contributors to other charities who will target certain age groups. If you ask for quotes for insurance, for example, your details are sold on to other groups who then bombard you with their literature.
For home security, alarms which can be set at night are good, and PIR sensors which can distinguish whether you have a pet are available. Dogs free to roam in the house are a deterrent, but a nosy neighbor is useful. Fake CCTV or alarm boxes are not very effective. When on holiday it is advisable to set the alarm, leave some lights to come on with timers, and get your neighbor to park in your drive. At Christmas, overflowing bins with evidence of recent purchases will make criminals target you. For door locks, there is a Company called ‘’Stay Put’’ (see www.yorkshirehousing.co.uk) which will fit locks very cheaply. TS007 3star anti-snap Euro profile cylinder locks are the best for u PVC doors.
Andy had leaflets and much information to impart and could easily have continued for another hour, but we all appreciated the insight and reminder of the often ignored dangers around us.
A very worthwhile and enjoyable mornings talk, expertly delivered.