Thieves on the streets

Local Police officers have sent out a warning about a new way of carrying out thefts on the street.

The first member of a gang approaches somebody they think is a stranger to an area. They start a conversation under the pretext of asking for directions, recommendations for a restaurant or some other reasonable question.

Once the conversation has started, other members of the gang arrive. They claim to be Police officers. Sometimes they show fake identification. They might ask to see the first fraudster’s identification but they may just give an excuse to examine the victim’s bag, purse or wallet.

Once whatever they’re inspecting is handed back, everybody goes on their way. It’s only later the victim realises that money, bank cards or valuables have been taken from whatever the thieves ‘examined’.

The advice from the Police is that if anybody claims to be a Police officer, especially one in plain clothes, we should always ask to see identification.

Apart from that, it’s worth remembering:

  • Never, ever, give your passwords or the PIN for your bank cards to anybody. No genuine Police officer will ask for those.
  • No Police officer will ever ask you to withdraw money from a bank account.
  • No Police officer will ever ask you to transfer money to what they describe as a ‘safe’ bank account.

It’s often older people who are at risk of these sorts of crimes because they have grown up in a society where fraud was less frequent. It’s important to help everybody understand that there are thieves who are very good at convincing us that they’re from a trustworthy organisation.

It’s a sad reflection on today’s society, but it’s necessary to adopt an attitude of ‘trust nobody until they’re proven to be trustworthy’.

Preventing vehicle crime

There has been a recent spate of thefts from cars and thefts of cars in Kings Heath and Moseley. The Police suggested a few precautions that we can take to reduce the risk of these sorts of crimes:

Break-ins to cars in Moseley involved thieves smashing windows to get at electronic equipment left in the cars overnight. The advice is never to leave satnavs, mobile phones, laptops or anything else of value in your car overnight.

You may also have heard about a couple of instances where cars were taken by force from their owners (carjackings). Advice has also been offered to minimise the risk of being the victim of this sort of crime. When you’ve parked your car and you’re going back to it, be aware of who is in the area as you approach it. Have the key ready in your hand so that you can open the door and get in quickly. Once in, lock the doors.

Overall, reported crime is reducing but these are things we can all do to help bring it down further.

Preventing burglaries

A recent meeting involving residents and representatives from West Midlands Police heard that the rate of burglaries in Kings Heath has fallen over the past month or so. However, residents were advised of the need to take action to protect themselves and their property:

  • If you’re going out for the evening, leave at least one light on. If possible, leave several lights on timers so they can be seen being switched on and off.
  • Don’t leave keys – especially car keys – within reach of your front door. Thieves have used long hooks to reach keys out of houses through letterboxes.
  • When you go out, make sure all doors and windows are secured. Criminals look for unoccupied homes with open windows and it’s amazing to see how small a window can be used by an adult to get into a house.
  • Think about how easy it is to get to the back of your house. If you have a side gate, put a bolt on it.
  • If you have tools in your garden shed, make sure the shed is locked when the tools aren’t being used. A spade or a fork can be used to break into a house.
  • Think about registering valuable items (wide-screen televisions, computers, jewellery, etc.) with the UK National Property Register.
  • If you’ve got foliage that screens your front doors or windows from the street, think about cutting it back so that anybody at the front of your house can be seen easily.
  • Think about outside security lighting so that anybody approaching your house will be very noticeable from the street.

If you do see anything suspicious, call 101 and tell the Police.

If a crime is actually in progress, call 999 immediately.

Meet your local policing team this Saturday 22 March 2014

Sergeant Tom O’Keefe and members of the local policing team will be at Kings Heath Baptist Church (opposite Asda) this Saturday, 22 March 2014 from 10.30am–1.30pm. They’ll be there to meet and discuss local initiatives available as part of a crime reduction community event.

Why not pop along and see what’s on offer; the team would love to see you there. Come and meet them, and collect some anti-theft number plate screws, purse bells (to deter bag dippers) or cost-price home security items.