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Crime Prevention Guides


Improve your home security

Many burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves who simply enter homes through open windows or unlocked doors. Improving your home security is the best way of reducing the chance of being burgled and, for a relatively low cost, you can protect your property and make it difficult for a burglar. Look at your home through a burglar’s eyes, and see where opportunities exist for your home to become a target.

Doors

  • Keeping your doors locked, even when you are at home, is vital for good home security. Keep keys out of sight, and reach, from cat flaps, letterboxes, and downstairs doors and windows
  • Don’t be tempted to keep a spare key hidden outside; this is an open invitation to thieves
  • Make sure doors and door frames are in a good condition. Wooden doors should be solid and at least 44mm thick
  • Wooden front doors should be fitted with a 5-lever mortice deadlock, and an automatic deadlocking rim latch (both to BS3621). Wooden back doors should be fitted with a 5-lever mortice lock (BS3621), and key operated mortice bolts top and bottom (BS3621)
  • When replacing doors invest in door-sets, which are certified to British Standard PAS24-1: 1999

Windows

  • An open window may let in more than a cool breeze. If you open a window for an air, make sure you close it when you go out. To limit the windows opening, consider fitting restrictors to downstairs windows
  • Ensure all ground floor windows, and any that are easily accessible from a flat roof, are fitted with window locks
  • When replacing windows invest in ones that are certified to British Standard BS7950

Lighting

  • The right lighting, correctly positioned can be a real deterrent to a burglar. Lighting allows a property to look occupied, and removes the offender’s cover of darkness. Be wary not to light an offender’s path, only illuminate areas which are overlooked, and where an offender is likely to be seen
  • A constant level of lighting provided by a dusk-to-dawn sensor light is ideal at the front of the house.
  • Lighting your front doorway removes the cover of darkness, and allows callers to be identified at night
  • At the rear or to the side of your property, passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor light will draw your or your neighbours’ attention to any activity
  • Homes that do not look occupied after dark are a target for burglars, especially in the winter months. Use energy saving lights with timers to make your home look occupied

Alarms

It is nationally recognised that burglar alarm systems are an effective burglary deterrent, and alarm systems are highly recommended to prevent crime. Offenders avoid anything that may draw attention to them as they strive to work anonymously.

If you already have an alarm system, take advantage of it and ensure that it is set when you leave the property and when you go to bed.

If you are considering investing in an alarm system, we recommend obtaining three quotes from at least three security companies who are subject to independent inspection by a recognised body, either the National Security Inspectorate (www.nsi.org.uk/) or Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (https://ssaib.org/).

An alarm system is not a replacement for the usual security measures and is not an alternative to good doors, windows and locks. Alarm systems form part of a security package to help make your property less inviting to a thief, complementing the other security features.

Find out more about burglar alarms in our users’ guide here or in the leaflet below.

Your valuables

Essentially it is the items inside your home that you are trying to protect from theft.

  • Avoid advertising your valuables to thieves. Items that are attractive to thieves such as televisions, laptops, computer consoles, should be positioned so they are not visible from the outside
  • Mark your property. There are several ways of property marking. Forensic marking is a liquid based solution that has a unique chemical ‘code’. Forensic marking providers SelectaDNA, Smartwater and Red Web are all police approved and accredited by Secured by Design
  • Ultra-violet marking using a UV permanent pen can be effective. Mark property with your house number followed by your postcode. It is likely this type of marking will fade after 12-18months, when faded re-mark the property in the same manner
  • Register your property for free at www.immobilise.com

Useful Contacts

Protecting gold and jewellery

Keep your valuable and sentimentally important jewellery safe with this advice.

  • We recommend removing high value gold and jewellery from your home and storing it in a safety deposit box to keep it and your family as safe as possible. Police officers are working with financial institutions to make these schemes more readily available in Northamptonshire. For now, Metro Bank in Milton Keynes is the closest location with safety deposit box facilities
  • Don’t store high value gold and jewellery in your home, even if you have a safe fitted. The best place for it is in a safety deposit box. This will help protect your family and home too
  • Don’t talk about your valuable gold and jewellery outside your home and don’t tell people that you have it
  • Avoid posting about weddings, festivals or other celebrations on social media – criminals may see your posts and work out when you won’t be at home, or use your photos to identify valuables, including gold jewellery. Ensure your privacy settings mean only people you know can see your profile, posts and pictures
  • When attending events, consider only putting your jewellery on when you arrive, and removing it again before you leave. Travel to and from celebrations in a group, using well-lit streets. If you get a taxi, check you are using a licensed, reputable firm
  • If you do wear jewellery in public, be discreet – consider wearing a scarf to cover your neckline, and a long-sleeved coat to cover your wrists
  • Make sure your jewellery is marked with a suitable security product such as SmartWater® and register your property free of charge at www.immobilise.com. Find information on traceable liquids at www.securedbydesign.com. You may also consider having items laser engraved with your name
  • Photograph each piece of valuable gold or jewellery and keep a written description - this will help in appealing for information and returning it to you if it is ever stolen
  • Ensure jewellery is adequately covered by your insurance, with an agreed valuation. Keep all original insurance documents, receipts, photographs, valuations and certificates of authenticity safe – do not store them with your items
  • Try to avoid decorating the outside of your home during religious festivals and events. Symbols, flags, lights or other emblems can all help criminals identify homes where gold is likely to be present. Be mindful of displaying religious icons on your vehicle as well
  • Improve your home security. Always keep doors and windows locked, keep keys out of sight and reach of doors, windows, letterboxes and catflaps, and check callers before opening the door. Further advice is available in our other crime prevention guides and the leaflets below
  • Invest in an approved house alarm – this is a real deterrent to burglars. Search for approved systems and installers at www.nsi.org.uk or www.ssaib.org
  • Consider joining your local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. If there's no local scheme, why not start your own? Find out more at www.northantsnhw.co.uk
  • Sign up to Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Alert for regular updates about crime and policing in your area
  • Report suspicious vehicles in your area or any activity you think is suspicious to police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. In an emergency, call 999

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your jewellery email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Preventing shoplifting

Shoplifting costs businesses thousands. Most items stolen from shops are taken because they are concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable, and disposable. The following advice will help you protect your stock and business against shoplifting.

  • Know your risks – assess which stock might be a target, identify any hard-to-monitor areas, work out peak shopping times and ensure adequate staffing to monitor and deter would-be thieves
  • Train staff to be vigilant and alert to recognise thieves. Find more information on the methods used by shoplifters in our leaflet below
  • Good customer service helps prevent crime: greeting shoppers helps deter would-be shoplifters by reminding them they have been seen and noticed by staff
  • If you spot someone behaving oddly or suspiciously, let them know they have been seen by approaching and offering help, such as advice on a purchase, or say hello to them while rearranging stocky nearby
  • Use signs by entrance doors to make it clear shoplifting won’t be tolerated
  • Consider joining a local retail crime scheme. Contact the Northampton Retail Crime Initiative on 01604 629181 or email info@retailcrime.org for details of schemes in your area
  • Install CCTV to cover entrances, exits, high value and targeted stock. Your CCTV should be registered with the information commissioner’s office – for more information visit www.ico.gov.uk
  • Consider employing a security guard or store detective. This may be full- or part-time, or at key times of the day or year
  • Protect merchandise with electronic security tags, display boxes and lockable display cabinets
  • Conduct regular stock takes to identify losses promptly and highlight vulnerable items so they can be protected against future theft
  • Limit the number of young people allowed in at one time, or insist on children being accompanied by an adult
  • Decline entry to known offenders, asking them to leave if they have already entered the store
  • Establish rules for changing rooms in clothing stores
  • Never leave cash registers unlocked or unattended

Store design and layout tips for theft prevention

  • Reduce the number of exits, blind spots, corners and recesses
  • Install mirrors to cover any blind spots which remain
  • Ensure customers pass the till area and staff in order to exit the store
  • Don’t display stock near exit or entrance doors, and especially not high value or desirable goods such as alcohol
  • Install entry/exit chimes to alert staff to people entering the store
  • Create clear lines of sight in aisles and reduce the height of displays
  • Reduce crowding around display of high risk items
  • Move ‘hot products’ into higher security zones with more staff surveillance
  • Speed up the checkout to reduce congestion and waiting
  • Consider plastic screens in front of confectionery
  • Install display hooks which prevent an entire rail of stock being swept off and removed at once
  • Use good quality, lockable display cabinets for high value goods
  • Alarm unlocked exits (such as fire doors) and unused checkouts

Report retail crime on the non-emergency 101 number. If a crime is in progress or life is at risk, use 999.

To speak to our crime prevention team about preventing theft from retail premises email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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School building security

When looking at the security of your school you should start at the perimeter (site boundary) and work your way in. Looking for areas of concern allows you to identify potential measures which could be used to address them. Our leaflet on school security contains a checklist to help you assess your site. [link]

Good access control measures should be a priority for daytime security of the school and the personal safety of all users. As well as protecting school members, overt access control shows would-be offenders that security is taken seriously within the site, helping to deter them.

Windows and external door security

The main entrance door to the school should incorporate some degree of access control such as a remote electronic lock release device incorporating an intercom and visual verification if this entrance is not overlooked from the office/reception.

All windows and doors should be checked to ensure the locking mechanisms are in working order, and are suitable for purpose, providing the correct level of security against the risks posed.

All doors should be sufficiently solid and adequately secured against potential break-in. Action should be taken to address any identified weaknesses. All fire exits doors should be devoid of external door furniture.

All ground floor or other easily accessible windows above ground floor level should have suitable key operable locks fitted for additional security. Security bars or grilles can be considered for the most vulnerable windows. 

Consideration should be given to permanently securing windows not required for ventilation or other health and safety reasons.

Windows that are frequently the target of vandalism can be a major drain upon building maintenance budgets. To reduce this type of incidences consider:

  • Keeping yards and grounds free from any material that could be used as ammunition
  • Reducing the amount of glazing. Sometimes windowpanes can be replaced by solid panels without noticeably reducing natural lighting levels
  • Use of laminated glass in vulnerable areas
  • Use of adhesive security film

Daytime security of vulnerable spaces

Offices, staff rooms, IT suites and store rooms within a school will require additional security measures to protect against the casual walk-in thief who may seek to target computing equipment or and smaller personal items such as mobile phones, wallets or purses. Doors to these rooms should be fitted with self-closure devices and suitable access control locks such as numeric keypads or electromagnetic locks with proximity or swipe card facility. These give greater control over who accesses a particular room or area and limits use to authorised personnel only.

Protecting IT equipment

All computer equipment should be discreetly security marked using property marking equipment, i.e. www.selectamark.co.uk and then registered with Immobilise at www.immobilise.co.uk

All computers, including those used for administrative purposes, require additional security features to prevent theft or someone tampering with them.

A register of all serial numbers and/or unit passwords should be available at the school and be the responsibility of a Single Point of Contact (SPOC). This will assist with the identification of individual units should they be recovered, and can assist the police with the arrest of offenders.

Secure stores for high-value items 

Intruders are unconcerned about damage and are willing to destroy several items of equipment to steal one. A secure store area should always be considered for the storage of items most at risk such as computer projectors, laptops, digital cameras, musical instruments, money.

The following list sets out the standards required for a secure store – while it may not be possible to meet them all because of a school’s construction and materials, identifying the most secure area and using suitable security measures to protect it are important.

  • A secure store should resist attack by any means up to, but excluding, power tools and flame cutters for at least 15 minutes. Existing rooms will require considerable adaptation before they can meet the 15-minute rule
  • A secure store should be located centrally within the school and above ground floor where possible
  • Ensure the approach and the room itself are covered by the school’s intruder alarm system
  • Security measures needed to protect the room may include roller shutters, grilles/bars/ locks. Doors must be designed to withstand attack
  • Windows should be protected using roller shutters or collapsible grilles
  • Walls should offer the same resistance as doors and windows e.g. attack with sledge hammers
  • Access through ceiling voids or from roofs should be prevented

To speak to our crime prevention team about school security email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Avoid property fraud

ActionFraud is the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre and has the following advice for avoiding property fraud.

Property fraud involves fraudsters offering you a ‘get rich quick’ investment scam, claiming it can turn you into a property millionaire.

You attend a free presentation about making money from property investment. The fraudsters may persuade you to hand over money to sign up to a seminar or course promising to teach you how to make money dealing in property.

Or, you might be offered the opportunity to buy properties at a discount that aren’t yet built. You might think property investment is a fast way to get rich quickly, so you invest some, maybe all, of your hard-earned savings.

What you don't know is that the land is either agricultural or derelict. In many cases, it’s unsuitable for development, or is bound to have planning permission refused.

As a result, you may lose all the money you invested.

Another variation is buy-to-let fraud, where companies offer to source, renovate and manage properties, claiming good returns from rental income. In practice, the properties are near-derelict and the tenants non-existent.

Are you a victim of property fraud?

  • You’ve received a brochure in the post offering you a course on how to become a property millionaire
  • You’ve attended a free presentation on how to make money from property investment

What should you do if you’re a victim of property fraud?

  • Ask questions about the course. Ask for references from people who've taken it and talk to them.
  • Don’t just speak to one or two people, but several
  • Never make investments without thorough research. Find out where the land is. View it before parting with your money. Ask questions locally about its history. Discover whether planning permission has been applied for or granted. If not, what are the prospects of winning planning permission?
  • Don't invest until you see detailed plans for the site’s development
  • If you think you’ve been a victim of a property fraud, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06
  • You can also contact the Financial Services Authority (FSA)
  • Always make sure you keep copies of all paperwork about the transactions and the course, as well as notes of any phone conversations

Protect yourself against property fraud

  • Be very wary of mail solicitations claiming great returns, no matter how good they look. Check out the company first. For example: does it have a proper street address and landline number?
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is
  • Owners who are concerned their property might be subject to a fraudulent sale or mortgage can quickly alert Land Registry and speak to specially trained staff for practical guidance about what to do next by calling their Property Fraud Line on 0300 006 7030. The line is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Other types of property fraud

Fraudsters often target properties where there is no mortgage or the owner lives elsewhere.

Fraudsters may attempt to acquire ownership of a property either by using a forged document to transfer it into their own name, or by impersonating the registered owner.

There is an increased risk of fraud when:

  • a property is empty or has been bought to let
  • an owner is spending time abroad or absent
  • the owner is infirm or in a nursing or care home
  • a relationship breaks down
  • a property has no mortgage

You can help to make sure that you do not become a victim of property fraud by:

  • Registering your property with the Land Registry
  • Keeping your contact details up to date
  • Following the Land Registry's protection advice

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraudwww.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040

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Preventing identity theft

Criminals commit identity theft by stealing your personal information. This is often done by making contact with you and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation or taking documents from your rubbish.

Identity theft can result in fraud affecting your personal financial circumstances. If your identity is stolen, you may have difficulty when applying for loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is sorted out.

Follow our tips to protect your personal and financial details and prevent identity theft.

Debit and credit cards

  • If your bank cards are lost or stolen, cancel them immediately. Keep a note of the emergency numbers you should call
  • When giving your card details or personal information over the phone, internet or in a shop, make sure other people cannot hear or see your personal information

Documents

  • Keep your personal documents in a safe place, preferably in a lockable drawer or cabinet at home. Consider storing valuable financial documents such as share certificates with your bank
  • Always report all lost or stolen documents – such as passports, driving licences, plastic cards, cheque books – to the relevant organisation
  • Don't throw away entire bills, receipts, credit or debit card slips, bank statements or even unwanted post in your name. Destroy unwanted documents, preferably by using a shredder. Be aware that your post is valuable information in the wrong hands
  • If you fail to receive a bank statement, card statement, utility bill or any other financial information contact the supplier as soon as possible. Have post immediately redirected to your new address if you move house

Passwords and PINs 

  • Never give personal or bank account details to anyone who contacts you unexpectedly. Be suspicious even if they claim to be from your bank or the police – neither would ask for your details or PIN like this
  • Don't use the same password for more than one account and never use banking passwords for any other websites. Using different passwords increases security and makes it less likely that someone could access any other accounts
  • When using a cash machine or making a card payment, make sure no one is hovering close enough to see you enter your PIN

Protecting the identity of deceased family members

Criminals sometimes use the identities of deceased persons to commit fraud, which can be very distressing for those close to the deceased.

The following websites offer deceased person mail preference services and provide further information on this issue:

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your identity email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Protecting your personal details against phishing, vishing and smishing

Sadly there are lots of ways criminals seek to exploit their victims. One is by convincing someone to hand over valuable personal details, cash, or download something that infects your computer or smartphone to steal this information or hold your information to ransom. This may be done through a website, online service, social media page, email, phone call, or voice or text message, posing as a company or brand you recognise.

Once the criminals have your details they may use them to steal your identity, or simply take the money you’ve paid and break all contact.

There are lots of terms used to refer to this kind of activity – phishing refers to fake emails intended to trick you into revealing your details, vishing is the use of voice calls or messages to do the same, and smishing occurs when a fraudster tries to trick you with a text or SMS message.

Protect yourself

  • Don’t assume anyone who’s sent you an email or text message – or has called your phone or left you a voicemail – is who they say they are
  • If a phone call or voicemail, email or text message asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious. Real banks never email you for passwords or ask for any other sensitive information by clicking on a link and visiting a website. If you get a call from someone who claims to be from your bank, don't give away any personal details
  • Make sure your email account’s spam filter is on. If you find a suspicious email, mark it as spam and delete it to keep similar emails out in future
  • If in doubt about any communication, check it’s genuine by asking the company itself. Never call numbers or follow links provided in suspicious emails, calls or texts; find the official website or customer support number using a separate browser and search engine or the phone book

Spot the signs

  • Spelling, grammar, graphic design or image quality in fake missives is often poor quality. They may use odd ‘spe11ings’ or ‘cApiTals’ in the email subject to fool your spam filter
  • If they know your email address but not your name, it’ll begin with something like ‘To our valued customer’, or ‘Dear...’ followed by your email address
  • The website or email address doesn’t look right; authentic website addresses are usually short and don’t use irrelevant words or phrases. Businesses and organisations don’t use web-based addresses such as Gmail or Yahoo
  • Money being taken from your account, or withdrawals or purchases appearing on your bank statement that you don’t remember making

Be aware on social media

Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels may be used to direct you to a spoof website. Fraudsters create accounts with similar usernames and profile pictures to official accounts to trick you into thinking you’re dealing with someone you can trust.

Official accounts are ‘verified’ – they come with a checkmark icon next to their name, meaning they’ve proved themselves as the official company to the social media channel. Never reveal any sensitive or personal information on social media.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your details email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Preventing pedal cycle theft

Bicycles can be the easiest vehicles for thieves and vandals to target. Protect yourself from becoming a victim of bicycle crime by following some simple steps.

  • When budgeting for your bike, budget for quality security locks as well
  • Think about a secure location you can keep your bike at home
  • Buy from a legitimate outlet and do what you can to check the bike isn’t stolen – search property registers such as www.immobilise.com and www.bikeregister.com
  • Insure your bike at the time you buy it – speak to your home contents insurer or seek specialist cover if required
  • Record and register your bike with clear photographs and a written description, including unique features, in case it is stolen
  • Consider additional security marks or tags to identify the bike as yours. Visible measures help deter thieves and should be securely attached. Hidden ones help prove ownership if it is recovered
  • Form good habits about locking your bike up so it becomes second nature every time you leave it, whether at home or out and about

Securing your bike

More than half of all bicycle thefts take place from an owner’s property. Keep yours safe at home with these tips:

  • Keep your bike in a secure shed or garage and keep the door locked
  • Consider a battery-operated shed alarm to alert you to any unauthorised entry
  • Use a padlock alarm to secure your bike to an immovable object or consider a floor or wall-mounted anchor
  • Keep your bike away from windows or out of external view
  • If you store your bike in a communal area, is there anything you can lock it to? If not, ask your landlord or building manager if a stand can be fitted

Away from home:

  • Avoid leaving your bike in dimly lit or isolated places – choose a spot where a potential thief can easily be seen
  • Always lock your bicycle, even if you are just leaving it for a couple of minutes. Think about using different types of lock to make it harder to steal
  • Lock both wheels and the frame tightly to a cycle stand or other immoveable object so your bike is difficult to move
  • Make it impossible for a thief to smash the lock open – if you use a D lock, fill the D part with as much of the bike as possible.
  • Never leave a lock lying on the ground where it can easily be smashed
  • Remove any items which can be taken without using tools, such as lights, pump, panniers, seat post and saddle                      

Choosing the right locks

Quality locks will keep your bike as secure as possible – as a guide, be prepared to spend 10 per cent of the value of your bike on locks.

  • Hardened steel D-shaped locks and sturdy chain locks are recommended
  • Choose products that have been tested against attack and locks which resist attack for the longest time. Visit www.soldsecure.com for certified locks, or ask your local bike shop for a recommendation
  • Price isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of quality and attack-resistance – check packaging for details, consider your likely risk and invest accordingly
  • It’s always best to use two locks of different types, such as a D lock and sturdy chain lock – this means a thief will need different tools to break each one, making theft less likely

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your bicycle email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Peace of mind while you’re away

Everyone enjoys a holiday, but you want to come home and find everything as you left it. Almost half of all burglaries happen when a flat or house is empty, so use these tips to keep your home secure while you’re away.

Make it look like your home is occupied

  • Don't close your curtains – in daytime this shows the house is empty. Think about getting automatic time-switches to turn your lights on when it goes dark
  • Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries so they can’t stack up and show you’re not there
  • Cut the lawn before you go and trim back any plants that burglars could hide behind
  • Ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to look after your home and make it look like someone is living there. They can collect your mail, open and close the curtains, switch on lights, and even mow your lawn or park on your drive
  • Don’t label any keys you leave with your house number, address or name

Simple security precautions

  • Fit mortise locks or bolts to all outside doors, and locks to all downstairs or easily accessible windows
  • Don't leave valuables like your TV, music or gaming systems, laptop or tablet where they can be seen through windows
  • Mark valuable items with your postcode and house number using an 'invisible' security marker. If your property is stolen and recovered, this will help the police to identify and return it to you, and could also provide them with evidence to convict the people responsible
  • Register your valuables with www.immobilise.com for the same reason
  • Make sure you have up-to-date contents insurance
  • Put all your tools away so they cannot be used to break into your house and lock the garage and shed with proper security locks.
  • If you have to leave a ladder out, put it on its side and lock it to a secure fixture with a 'close shackle' padlock or heavy-duty chain
  • Make it difficult for burglars by locking all side or back gates, and adding trellis to the top of walls and fences. Fit lights that come on at night to cover the sides and back of your house
  • Lock all outside doors and windows. If you have a burglar alarm, make sure it is set
  • Don’t put your home address on your luggage when you are travelling to your holiday destination
  • Just before you set off, spend a couple of minutes checking that you've done all you had to do and taken everything you need with you
  • Let a trusted neighbour know when you will be away, and give them details so they can contact you, or someone who can act on your behalf, in an emergency
  • Find out if there’s a Neighbourhood Watch scheme where you live – call 01933 664146 or visit www.northamptonshireneighbourhoodwatch.co.uk for more information on existing schemes and how to set one up where you live

If you return home to find you’ve had a break-in while you’ve been away, call 101 to report it to police. If you disturb a crime in progress or there’s a risk to life, call 999.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your home while you’re away email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Narrowboat security

If you own a narrow boat, knowing it’s secure when you’re not on board will give you peace of mind. Use these tips to protect your narrowboat:

  • Doors should be made from strong solid timber. Steel skins give extra strength
  • Wooden interior shutters boost window security and also provide privacy and help retain the heat in the boat
  • Secure hatches and doors with heavy duty internal hasps
  • Window guards and bars across entrance doors offer heavy duty security if desired
  • Use cylinder padlocks, such as high security van types, which are harder to casually pick than conventional keyed padlocks
  • Car alarms are based on the same 12VDC operation as the majority of narrowboats. A good quality alarm system, advertised with signs and window stickers, will help deter casual thieves. Top units will alert you to any security breach
  • GPS trackers are also a deterrent. The most sophisticated units can automatically inform you and the police if your boat moves for any reason
  • Disable your engine whenever you are ashore
  • Chain your boat to an appropriate mooring when in urban or busy areas to prevent it being cast off deliberately
  • If it's not possible to use chain or steel rope and a padlock, try heavy-duty nylon cable ties. Used close to bollards and T-studs to clamp ropes together, these ties can be very effective at preventing casual casting off
  • Fit CCTV and passive infrared (PIR) movement-activated security lighting
  • Foil would-be fuel thieves by using a locking fuel tap or a tank alarm
  • Don't leave valuable kit on the roof. Thieves rarely break in for it; it's often 'lifted' from the roof or deck
  • Chain up bicycles. Just because they are on your roof or deck does not make them impossible to steal
  • Ensure you have specialist narrowboat insurance in place. This won’t make a break-in any easier to deal with, but will help financially should you need to replace items and repair damage

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your narrowboat email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Preventing motorbike and scooter theft

Motorcycles and scooters are easy to steal when left unprotected. It takes just seconds for a couple of thieves to hoist a motorcycle into a van and take off.

Knowing about the different ways you can protect your bike or scooter will help keep it safe and secure.

Security tips

  • Always lock the ignition and take the key with you when you leave your bike
  • Lock the steering - motorcycles come with a fork lock, which is the equivalent of a car’s steering lock
  • Remove the main fuse of your motorcycle when you park
  • Lock your disks. Motorcycle disk locks attach to the disk brake rotor to prevent the wheel from rolling. Disk locks which incorporate an alarm offer additional protection
  • Lock your wheels. Motorcycle wheel locks work the same way as disk locks - they are just larger
  • Use two or more different locks, for example a chain lock and a U-wheel lock. Thieves might not have the tools to break two different types of lock
  • Chain your motorcycle to a secure object that is difficult to destroy, or to other motorcycles when you park together
  • Use high quality locks that are difficult to break, force, or pick. Look for police-approved products at www.securedbydesign.com
  • Take pictures of your motorcycle and any unique parts and marks. This could help the police to identify it should it be stolen

Safer parking

Out and about

  • Avoid parking next or between large trucks, SUVs or anything that could help cover thieves trying to steal your motorcycle
  • Park your motorcycle in a security camera’s view whenever possible
  • Check your motorcycle frequently, especially right after you park at a public event

At home

  • Store your motorcycle in a secured location such as a locked garage or fenced area
  • Keep your motorcycle locked even when you park it in your garage
  • Install a U-bolt in your garage floor and chain your motorcycle to it while on the stand
  • Block your motorcycle with cars whenever possible
  • Use a motorcycle cover that doesn’t say what is underneath. Consider a cover which triggers an alarm when removed

Security and marking devices

  • Alarms are only effective if someone hears them and then takes action. Pager alarms send a signal to a nominated device when activated, talking alarms play a message and alarm sound when triggered. Find police-approved products at www.securedbydesign.com
  • Install an immobiliser or hidden or spring-loaded switch that must be pressed when starting the engine
  • Use an engraving kit or a security marker pen to mark your bike and as many parts as possible with identifying details, such as the vehicle registration number or postcode
  • Install a tracking device
  • Have CCTV monitors or wi-fi cameras fitted at home. The latter allow you to check in when away and many include recording systems

Protection against professional thieves

Professional thieves know how to pick, break, cut, or force locks, and they plan and prepare well before they attempt to steal. The following steps will help thwart them:

  • Customise your motorcycle. Unique, customised motorcycles are easy to recognise when stolen. Professional thieves know this and prefer to steal motorcycles that haven’t been altered or personalised
  • Don’t keep your title in your motorcycle storage compartment, tank bag or motorcycle saddlebag. Keep it in a safe place at home
  • Be careful about giving out private information on where you live or work, especially when you’re selling your motorcycle online. Don’t post pictures of your motorcycle which include any surroundings which could be used to identify your location

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your motorbike or scooter email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Preventing metal theft and protecting places of worship

Every year tonnes of metal is stolen from homes, businesses, churches, schools and substations. Not only does this type of theft cause disruption to services and inconvenience to those affected, it’s also costly to replace or repair any damage.

Preventing metal thefts

The police use numerous measures available to tackle metal theft, some targeting the thief and others targeting the receivers. As a home, business or property owner or caretaker there are also steps you can take to guard against it, including:

  • Using plastic pipes to replace copper and other metal pipes
  • Keeping scrap metal in a secure building or container until there is a sufficient amount to be taken to or collected by a licensed scrap dealer. On building sites, lockable and lidded skips or lorry containers should be used. Likewise, new cables, wiring and other sheet and mesh metals should be kept in secure containers until needed
  • Remove the means to commit crime. Access to lead roofs should be restricted. Lock away ladders and climbing aids such as wheelie bins. Where possible these should be chained up. Anti-climb collars can be fixed to climbable rain water and soil pipes
  • When taking scrap metal to your local licensed dealer or recycling centre, you must take identification documents with you as they will need your details
  • Builders should order white goods and boilers ‘just in time’ so that they can be installed into a securable building. Many developers temporarily alarm their new buildings and employ security staff at this time
  • Protecting your property through marking it makes it less attractive to criminals. Measures such as forensic marking can be used on metal and vehicle catalytic converters which are also targeted by metal thieves. Find approved products at www.securedbydesign.com
  • Use an alarm system developed specifically to protect lead roofs, and highlight its use with signs in prominent or likely climbing locations
  • Engaging with the local community is especially helpful in protecting churches, historic buildings and building sites. Encourage people to visit or pass by regularly, and ask them to report anything suspicious to police
  • Keep the site visible. Cut back overgrown vegetation to improve sight lines onto the building and its elevations

Protecting your place of worship

Church buildings in Northamptonshire have had lead stripped from their roofs, guttering and other areas, which in turn leaves the building exposed to the elements and risks further damage from rain, wind and vandalism. Repeat theft is an additional problem, with thieves deliberately targeting a church building and returning once repairs have been made.

To help protect your place of worship from metal theft, use this checklist to assess and improve your security measures:

  • Check your premises to identify and locate materials that may be attractive to thieves. If you are unsure, speak to your church architect. Examples of items desirable to thieves include lead, copper and stainless steel roof coverings, copper lightening conductors, lead and copper water pipes, metal statues, iron gates and church bells
  • Make regular checks on your roof to make sure it is intact. Unnoticed theft of lead from the roof can lead to extensive water damage at a later date
  • Review church security – e.g. lock gates and consider removal of large or overgrown bushes which may obscure the view of neighbours
  • Restrict vehicular access to the place of worship, especially when the site is not in use
  • Restrict access to the roof by removing items such as waste bins, water butts and tall trees located near the building. Make sure ladders are kept in a locked building when not in use and be especially careful when building works are being undertaken, particularly if scaffolding is in use
  • Engage with the local community; make sure neighbours know of any authorised work at the church so they can report any suspicious behaviour or the presence of unauthorised workmen to you or the police
  • Consider using anti-climb paint on drain pipes and on the metal itself in situ. The paint should only be applied above two metres from the ground and in each case suitable warning notices should be posted. Whenever anti-climb paint is applied, ensure the appropriate health and safety regulations are followed

To speak to our crime prevention team about preventing metal theft or protecting your place of worship email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Preventing machinery and plant theft

Plant and machinery crime is a costly problem, especially in a rural county like Northamptonshire. Across the county, 32 per cent of residents are classed as living in rural areas. This is well above the national average of 17 per cent, with almost a third of our population living in and around rural towns.

If you own or hire plant or agricultural machinery, use the following advice to protect it. Setting up a good security routine and sticking to it will help these preventive measures become second nature:

  • Secure or immobilise vehicles where they are stored and when they aren’t in use
  • If practical, move machinery from fields when they aren’t in use, especially if they are near a road. Never leave ignition keys in machinery when it isn’t in use
  • Make sure that all security devices supplied with the plant, vehicle or machinery are always used
  • Overt and covert marking of property makes it less appealing to thieves, and easier to return to owners should it be stolen and recovered. Use engravers or welders to mark vehicles and equipment with your postcode, followed by the first two letters of your farm or company name
  • Consider overtly painting equipment in your corporate colours to make items less attractive to thieves
  • Mark parts with a unique number. The more parts you mark the easier it will be to identify them if the equipment is stripped down
  • Keep a record of serial, chassis and model numbers, and store in a secure place away from where the equipment is kept
  • Record all equipment and attachments in a company plant asset register
  • Consider fitting trackers to your most valuable vehicles. These are becoming cheaper now and should be looked at seriously for all vehicles
  • Number plate theft causes a range of problems. Consider fitting a secure plate bearing your company or farm details and/or a unique identifier. You may also want add a 24-hour telephone number so that the police can call you to check plant equipment they see on the move
  • Register items with an approved recognised database (e.g. CESAR)
  • Display security posters on-site to highlight security measures such as CCTV and to show your commitment to preventing crime
  • Assess your site, working from the perimeter in, imagining you’re a criminal looking for weaknesses. Write down any areas where you need to improve and act on them. Our leaflet on site security has a guide to site assessment – download it below

What should you do if plant machinery is stolen?

  • Act quickly and tell the police – call 999 if you discover the crime in progress or life is at risk, or use 101 if you discover the theft after the fact
  • If the equipment is insured, inform your insurer. If your equipment is registered with a commercial registration or tracking company, remember to tell them too
  • Do not disturb the scene of the crime until the police have investigated
  • Try to get the names and addresses of any witnesses
  • Make a note of the date, time and place of the theft and who saw the equipment last
  • Let the police have the plant identification document so that they can enter the correct information on the Police National Computer

If there is no plant identification document the police will need the following information:

  • Make, model and type of equipment lost
  • Colour
  • Registration number (if applicable)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN) product identification number (PIN) and or serial number
  • Engine number
  • Plant hire or fleet number
  • Any other identification numbers or distinctive features
  • Descriptions of any attachments and their serial numbers (VIN or PIN)
  • Approximate value

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting plant and machinery email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Download leaflets with more detailed advice on protecting plant and machinery from criminals and improving site security below.

Heritage security advice

Northamptonshire is a largely rural county which has many historic sites and properties. This guide aims to assist those with a need or responsibility to improve the protection given to our nation’s heritage.

UNESCO defines two forms of heritage – cultural heritage, such as monuments, buildings and sculptures, and natural heritage, such as areas of natural beauty or habitats of threatened species of animals and plants.

Heritage crime is any offence that harms the value of heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations. This covers harm done by owners, for example by allowing a building to fall into disrepair, as well as criminal threats such as theft or criminal damage, or other illegal activity which affects local businesses or residents.

The cost to communities of heritage crime is enormous, not just in monetary value but in social costs. History fascinates people, and the damage being caused could deny future generations the opportunity to enjoy our heritage.

By its nature most heritage property was created without consideration for modern criminal behaviour and owners can find that new threats appear regularly (such as the dramatic increase in metal theft in recent years) and place a heavy burden on them. This advice aims to provide a starting point for heritage security. More detailed advice is available from the British Security Industry Association.

Heritage security help

  • Advice for protecting regular commercial and residential property is equally useful at heritage properties – see our other crime prevention guides for more information
  • However, depending on the type of heritage property, its individual circumstances and contents some may need further, more specific consideration. A thorough risk assessment will help identify these specifics and will direct the protective measures taken
  • Successful crime prevention strategies should aim to reduce the risk to the property by increasing the risk of detection to the thief or other criminal. The types and level of security and protection used should be determined by the results of the risk assessment, which considers the way the property is used and when it is most at risk
  • Heritage security must also take into account and be balanced against any knock-on effects on the heritage item. For example, moving a statue from a park to a gallery makes it less available to the public, changes its aesthetic appeal, and reduces the quality of the park
  • Protective measures must not detract from a property’s character and must be unobtrusive – otherwise a Georgian shop front with external roller shutters becomes a bland modern building; fitting CCTV cameras to the front of a house is unappealing and can contravene regulations. Striking the right balance can be more costly than using standard measures
  • When assessing the risks to a heritage asset, a holistic approach is required. Look at the property and its surroundings as a whole. Think about things from a criminal’s point of view and work out the most likely targets and the ways criminals would attack the property
  • Once you’ve considered what could go wrong and how it might impact on you, then you need to think about what you should do about it. A mitigating action is something done to protect your property and broadly may take three forms:
  • Ignoring/accepting a risk
  • Exporting/transferring a risk
  • Addressing a risk
  • Having the right insurance is also vital for heritage properties – speak to your insurer or seek specialist advice to make sure your cover and any security measures you implement are suitable and acceptable

A simple piece of security advice for all types of property is not to place all hope in a single solution. Security provisions should be used in combination to achieve four things:

  • Deterrence: measures that will make a criminal think twice
  • Detection: the identification of a threat or crime
  • Delay: measures to slow a criminal’s progress and increase their risk of capture
  • Response: what happens when a crime is detected, e.g. the use of a security guard or arrival of the police

In many cases a solution will contribute to more than one of these. For example, a strong fence will deter a burglar and also cause a delay gaining entry.

Remember: When considering measures to prevent heritage crime and protect a heritage site, it’s essential you are aware of any regulations, laws and controls that are in place and may affect any work on your property.

To speak to our crime prevention team about preventing heritage crime email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Have a happy Halloween

We want people to enjoy Halloween, but it can be a worrying time for parents and homeowners. Taking a few minutes to talk about safety and respect before you go out trick or treating can help childen have a safe, fun time.

Remember, not everyone loves Halloween! If you see a ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster or sign at a house, don’t knock on the door. If you would like a free ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster for yourself, a relative or neighbour, please contact crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk or download one to print at home below.

If you’re a shopkeeper and decide not to sell flour or eggs to people under the age of 16 during Halloween you can download our 'Eggs and Flour' poster to put in your shop window.

Advice for a safe Halloween

  • If young children are going trick or treating, make sure you or a responsible adult are with them at all times. Know where they are going and when to expect them back
  • With older children, agree with them where they are going, a return time and if possible, which houses they intend to visit
  • Remind everyone to respect posters displaying ‘No Trick or Treat’
  • Never try to deliberately scare someone, especially older or vulnerable people
  • Don’t allow anyone to go trick or treating alone – always stay with a group
  • Eggs and flour are for baking. Don’t allow children to take these items out, and don’t throw them
  • As it’s likely to be dark, carry torches and only walk down well-lit streets
  • Remind children to NEVER enter anyone’s house and NEVER accept lifts in people’s cars
  • Be careful crossing roads in the dark
  • Ask children not to eat any sweets or other treats they are given until they get home. Check their treats before they eat any. Sweets and foods still in their original wrappers are safest

Dressing up safety

  • Costumes shouldn’t be too long or restrict your child’s freedom to move – you don’t want any unplanned bumps in the night
  • Stay away from candles, such as in pumpkins – homemade costumes and even some bought from shops can be highly flammable. When buying costumes, look for labels which say flame retardant
  • Masks can obstruct a child’s vision. This is dangerous, especially when they are crossing roads. Consider using face paints instead
  • Make sure children are going to be visible when they are out and about. Consider putting reflective tape on their costumes
  • Some costumes – coupled with the excitement of Halloween – can encourage aggressive behaviour. Remind all trick or treaters that even fake knives, swords and other costume accessories can hurt or scare people

Have a great time, stay safe and look out for each other.

If you or someone you know is in danger call 999.

Residents’ advice

It’s not just at Halloween when unexpected callers turn up. Follow these tips for doorstep safety:

  • Remember official visitors should always make an appointment beforehand
  • Look through the door spyhole, viewer or window to see who is outside
  • If you decide to open the door, put the chain or bar on first
  • Check the caller’s details and ID before you let them into your home. Telephone the relevant organisation to confirm the caller’s identity, but don’t reply on a phone number that the caller gives you
  • Don’t feel pressurised into buying items on your doorstep and be wary of callers who may offer home repairs or gardening. Report any unexpected traders to our doorstep crime hotline on 0345 23 07 702
  • Consider putting a ‘Sorry No Trick or Treat’ poster on your door or window. Download a poster below, or contact crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Report anti-social behaviour by calling 999 in an emergency, if a crime is in progress or life is at risk, or 101 for non-emergencies.

Protect yourself from Hajj fraud

The Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Muslims. Every October up to 25,000 British Muslims journey to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca, spending around £125 million in total.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, a number of people have been a victim of a type of fraud specifically targeting Hajj pilgrims. Many lose thousands of pounds on fake travel packages and accommodation arrangements, and are heartbroken to discover their pilgrimage dreams are ruined.

How to avoid Hajj fraud

Do your research - Don’t book without carrying out some basic checks on your travel agency/tour operator. A recommendation from a friend or family member does not guarantee the authenticity of the outfit. Go online and run a search on the travel company to see if other people have commented on their services. Check the company is accredited by the Ministry of Hajj at: www.hajjinformation.com

Make sure your travel company is a member of a recognised trade association such as ABTA - All ABTA members have to follow a code of conduct and meet rigorous entry criteria, minimising the chance of fraudulent companies joining. You can verify a company’s ABTA membership on https://abta.com/go-travel/before-you-travel-find-a-member

If you are booking a flight-based package make sure your travel company is ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - If the travel company closes down whilst you are in Saudi Arabia your return air ticket should be valid but you will probably be asked to repay for your accommodation. You can claim this cost from the CAA as well as a refund of your money if you have not travelled yet. You can check an ATOL at: www.cca.co.uk

Get everything in writing - Always get written terms and conditions as this details your contract with the travel company. Make sure your flight details, accommodation and Hajj visa are valid. Establish an auditable paper trail and keep records of financial transactions.

Do not pay the travel company by cash or direct bank transfer into an individual’s account - Most legitimate companies will have facilities with a bank to accept credit or debit cards. If you do pay by bank transfer or cash and the company turns out to be fraudulent it will be virtually impossible to get your money back.

If you have been a victim of Hajj fraud

Northamptonshire Police takes this type of crime very seriously and is working with partners from the Muslim community, the travel industry and other agencies to reduce this type of criminal activity.

If you have been a victim of Hajj fraud please report it by calling 101. Don’t suffer in silence or feel embarrassed about coming forward. The more we know about it, the more we can do to stop it.

Remember: if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is!

To speak to our crime prevention team about Hajj fraud email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Firework and bonfire safety

Fireworks can be great fun on Bonfire night on 5 November, Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.

However, fireworks can and do cause serious injuries if mishandled, and there are laws restricting their sale and use. Stay safe and out of trouble with the following advice:

  • The law says you must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight, or New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am
  • It’s illegal to set off or throw fireworks, including sparklers, in the street or other public places
  • If you’re under 18, you can’t buy certain types of fireworks, or have any fireworks in a public place – they’ll be confiscated if found
  • You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You, or your parent or carer, could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90
  • Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and check they are CE marked
  • Fireworks frighten animals – keep pets indoors when setting them off
  • Be considerate. Always inform neighbours if you’re planning to use fireworks, especially if they have pets or livestock
  • Follow the Firework Code
  • Build bonfires on the day they are to be lit, well away from any structures which could catch light. Supervise children, never use paraffin or petrol as an accelerant and use water to ensure the fire is out before you leave it
  • There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause – read more here

You can report any firework-related issues on the 101 non-emergency number.

Download a leaflet with more advice for enjoying fireworks and bonfires safely and responsibly below.

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Preventing doorstep crime

Doorstep crime is the name given to crimes carried out by bogus callers and rogue traders who call uninvited at people’s homes under the guise of legitimate business or trade.

This can be a particularly distressing type of crime because the perpetrator may have directly deceived you in getting into your home or extracting money from you. Victims are often older or vulnerable people, and may be left feeling betrayed, foolish and very distressed.

Protecting yourself

  • Make sure you can see who is at the door before you answer it. Where possible fit a spy-hole to identify callers. Alternatively talk to them through an adjacent windows
  • Don’t feel pressured into opening the door. Don’t feel you are being rude, genuine callers won’t mind
  • Remember that sadly not everyone is who they say they are, or may have ulterior motives, especially if they knock at your door to point out a supposed problem, such as damage to your roof
  • Don’t let people you don’t know into your home, even if they say they need help. If more than one person is at the door, one may try to keep you talking while the other slips away to see what they can steal
  • Set up passwords with your utility companies, genuine callers will need to recite this password to you. Always ask to see an ID card too
  • Don’t use telephone numbers on ID cards, if the person isn’t genuine the ID and the telephone number won't be either. Obtain telephone numbers direct from the phone directory. Alternatively make a list of your important numbers and keep them near the phone
  • If you’re still not sure that a caller is who they say they are, turn them away. Legitimate companies and callers will not mind
  • Display a ‘No Cold Callers’ sticker on your door or in your window
  • Contact the Northamptonshire Police crime prevention team if you’d like to talk to someone about protecting yourself against doorstep crime

Remember: If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.

Protecting someone you care for

Every day in Northamptonshire, people are at risk of falling victim to doorstep crime. Most of the victims are elderly or vulnerable. Whether you are caring for a family member, working as a professional in community care or safety, or just keeping an eye out for a neighbour, you may be the only person that has regular contact with them and can play a vital role in preventing them from becoming a victim:

  • Make the person aware that they are never required to open their door to unexpected callers and that it’s not rude to send someone away
  • Reinforce the message “If you’re not sure, don’t open the door”
  • Explain the tactics used by rogue doorstep traders and distraction burglars. Find more information on these in our downloadable leaflet
  • Encourage the person to set up passwords with their utility companies
  • Try to ensure that the outside of the property is well maintained, including the garden. Properties that are poorly maintained may be targeted
  • Advise the person not to keep money in the house and to keep credit cards, debit cards, cheque books, savings books and other valuables in a safe place
  • Display a ‘No Cold Calling’ sticker to discourage unwanted callers
  • If you know the person requires some work to be carried out, help them to select a reputable trader by directing them to organisations such as their local Home Improvement Agency, Care and Repair or the Trading Standards ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme 
  • Reinforce this advice on a regular basis and always ask if anything unusual has happened or whether anyone has called at the property uninvited. We need more
  • people on the look-out, so if anything has happened please report it using the 101 number
  • In Northamptonshire many agencies have come together to form the Doorstep crime Action Network (DAN). If you have any suspicions or concerns that doorstep rogue traders or distraction burglars are operating in your community or targeting someone you know, please contact our dedicated doorstep crime hotline: 0345 23 07 702

Who to call if in doubt

  • If a crime is in progress or you feel imminently threatened dial 999
  • Report suspicious callers to the doorstep crime team on 0345 23 07 702
  • For non-urgent enquiries or to report any concerns or suspicions call 101
  • It’s always worth having a trusted neighbour on call. A genuine caller will not mind being challenged and will be happy to talk with anyone. They will also not mind coming back if you are feeling in any way uncomfortable and will happily pre-arrange an appointment

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting against doorstep crime email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Find more detailed information about doorstep crime and avoiding it by downloading our guide below.

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Avoiding debit and credit card fraud

This kind of crime happens when personal information is stolen from your debit, credit or store card, or the card itself is stolen, in order for money to be taken from your account or to buy items in your name.

Fraudsters use different techniques to find out the details on your card. They may make up an excuse to see your card when you’re using it to buy something or withdraw cash.

If someone knows the details of your card, such as the 16-digit number, expiry date and security code on the back, they can use the information to buy in your name. This is done by making ‘card not present’ purchases, such as online shopping, when the seller doesn’t ask whoever’s buying for the actual card, just the information on it. Someone using your card’s information can have the goods delivered to them, but you pick up the cost.

Alternatively, they may use the information to create a counterfeit card, or clone the card by skimming the data held on the chip or magnetic strip.

Protect yourself with these simple steps:

  • Look after your cards – keep them with you everywhere you go. Never hand over a card, particularly if you’re paying using a contactless card machineBe protective of your banking information. Either keep your statements, receipts and documents stored safely, or destroy them using a shredderSign new cards as soon as they arrive, and cut old cards through the magnetic strip and the chip once they’ve expired or been cancelled

Signs of card crime:

  • Your card is rejected when you try to pay with it or withdraw money, but you’re sure there were funds in your account last time you checkedYou’ve spotted unusual activity on your bank statements, such as purchases you don’t remember making or cash withdrawals from places you don’t remember visitingYour bank or the police will never get in touch to ask you for your PIN as a ‘security check’. If you get a call, text message or voicemail like this, don’t give away anything

Your card can also be vulnerable if you’re using it at a cash machine. Know how to protect yourself using our guide to preventing cash machine fraud.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your financial information email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Protecting your business against robbery

Robbery is the term used when someone steals something by the use or threat of force. Businesses may be targets for robbery due to a range of factors, including the goods they provide or sell, location and opening hours, but there are measures you can put in place to reduce the risk to your business and staff.

Simple precautions

  • Keep windows clear. Remove advertising or posters from windows if they obstruct the view of staff and any passers-by
  • Don’t hold large amounts of cash in your till. Impose a realistic (£50-£250) till limit that you and your staff stick to
  • Don’t count cash in public view. Cashing up should take place in a back room, preferably where the safe is located, with the door locked
  • Extra vigilance is required from staff at opening and in the lead up to closing time
  • Staff should be trained in how to deal with the public in violent or confrontational situations. They should also be trained in the firm’s procedures, security measures and what to do in the event of a robbery
  • Keep a log of all suspicious incidents, including date, time, description of suspicious people or vehicles and what they were doing. Report such activity to the police on 101
  • Advertise your security measures with posters and signs in prominent locations

Security measures

  • Consider installing CCTV – find out more about different systems in our CCTV guide
  • Consider fitting intruder and hold-up alarms. Find details of approved alarm companies on the National Security Inspectorate website at www.nsi.org.uk
  • Install a remote locking device which allows you to control who enters the premises
  • Use a safe with a time-delay system to store any cash held on the premises. Minimise cash held by making regular bank runs

Simple steps for safer banking

  • Identify a number of safe routes to the bank
  • Use physically fit staff who have received relevant security training
  • Vary the days, times and routes of bank runs
  • Place cash in a rucksack, for example, instead of a cash bag or tin
  • If walking, face oncoming traffic and walk in the centre of the pavement
  • If driving, place the money in the boot and park in areas covered by CCTV
  • If you become suspicious during a bank run go to a place of safety, such as a police station or other retail premises and call the police

What to do if a robbery takes place   

  • Remain calm: Try not to panic and don’t make sudden movements
  • Think safety: Your safety, and that of your customers and staff is paramount. No-one should risk their life by trying to stop or detain a robber
  • Alarms: If there is a hold-up alarm (panic alarm) installed then use it, but only if safe to do so
  • Descriptions: It is important to remember as much detail as possible. Even if you have CCTV your description of offenders and events will play a vital part in any investigation. When the incident is over make notes of what you remember, especially about:
  • Suspects: How many? How tall? How old? Any visible features? Clothing (brands and labels), any items carried (bags or weapons)
  • Actions: Try to remember exactly what happened and in what order
  • Accomplices: Look out for accomplices outside or in a vehicle
  • Escape: Try to see the direction of travel that offenders take, and any details of any vehicle make, model and registration number
  • Reduce the loss: Your safety and the safety of customers and staff must always come first but you can reduce the loss:
  • If ordered to fill a bag, stuff small denomination notes and coins in (unless instructed otherwise)
  • Don’t look towards safes or other cash storage areas

What to do following a robbery

  • Close your business immediately as this will help the police crime scene examiners
  • Help customers or staff who may have been injured or who appear to be suffering from shock
  • Call police by dialling 999 and provide the operator with details. They will need the address, details of any injuries, and details about the offenders. These questions are important as police responding to the call will be looking out for the offenders while travelling to the scene
  • Don’t touch anything that has been handled or left by the robber(s). Firearms or other weapons should not be touched but left in place for police to deal with
  • Write down descriptions of the robbers and as many details as you can remember about what happened while you wait for officers to arrive
  • Inform your security department (if you have one)
  • Secure any CCTV images. Do not watch the footage, but tell police that CCTV exists
  • Don’t give any information to the media before speaking to the police. There will be information the police might not share if it could jeopardise the investigation

Robbery is a traumatic offence and affects people differently. If you or a colleague need help contact the Victim Support Helpline on 0808 16 89 111or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk, or Voice, a support service for victims and witnesses to crime, on www.voicenorthants.org or 0300 303 1965.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your business email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Have a safe, crime-free Christmas

The festive season is a time for giving, but sadly also for taking – the dark nights, social occasions, gifts and increased cash people have on them mean there are lots of attractive opportunities for criminals. We’re working hard to keep you safe, but there are simple steps you can take to help us.

At home

  • Don’t leave Christmas presents under your tree if they are in view of windows or doors. Make sure windows and doors are kept locked
  • Property-mark presents and valuables with your postcode, house number or name, then register them with Immobilise at www.immoblise.com.  Note down model numbers and serial numbers of all electrical items
  • Never keep large amounts of cash at home and check you have adequate home insurance
  • Be mindful of what you post on social media – don’t advertise you have expensive new gifts or that you’re out and your home is therefore empty
  • Make your house look occupied if you’re not at home. Invest in a timer to turn your lights on or, if you can, ask a family member or neighbour to pop in and do it. If they can also open and close your curtains at random times of the day it helps prevent criminals from seeing a pattern, making it harder for them to target your home
  • Dispose of boxes and rubbish discreetly. Leaving boxes outside will give away the fact that you have new and valuable items in the house

Personal safety

  • When Christmas shopping, be aware of how much you are carrying with you. Things like smart phones, digital devices and extra cash to buy presents mean you could be the ideal target for thieves. Don’t take out valuables you don’t need
  • When you are out and about at Christmas, don’t leave your bag unattended. Keep your purse safe in an internal pocket, and never write down your PIN
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended. It takes a matter of seconds for someone to tamper with your drink
  • Consider getting a personal safety alarm. Don’t allow threats of crime to intimidate you into never going anywhere alone. Just be aware of what’s going on around you and be confident that you can keep safe
  • Plan your journey home. If you use a taxi, ensure it is registered. If you have to walk home, only walk with friends you know well, stick to well-lit and busy streets, and make sure someone knows the route you are taking

Vehicle security

  • When you’re out Christmas shopping, look for a well-lit, busy area to park in. For additional security look out for the Park Mark security approved car parks
  • Make sure nothing is left on display in your car. Even small items can be tempting to a thief
  • Avoid going back to your car to leave your shopping part-way through your trip. If you have to keep presents in the car, make sure they are out of view in the boot, the car is locked, and keep the receipts with you
  • Car crime accounts for more than a quarter of all reported crime in the UK, so always lock your car and make sure windows are closed every time you leave it, even for very short periods
  • Never leave your keys in the ignition while your vehicle is unattended, even for a few minutes. Thieves will steal cars that have been left with the engine running to defrost the windows

Christmas can sadly be a time when family tensions are heightened and domestic abuse can occur or increase. If you, or someone you know, is suffering any form of domestic abuse, call us on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Help is also available from Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service – www.ndas.co or 0300 0120154

The festive season also presents extra fire hazards, from fairy lights to flammable decorations and Christmas trees. Find fire prevention advice at www.northantsfire.org.uk.

In the event of a fire get out, stay out and call 999.

To speak to our crime prevention team email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Users guide to CCTV

Closed circuit TV, or CCTV, can help prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and can also help identify and convict offenders. However, for CCTV to be most effective it must be planned, fitted and used correctly. This means you as the householder or business owner need to tell the CCTV supplier what you need, rather than for them to tell you.

If you’re thinking of using CCTV, the following advice will help you start to plan what kind of system you need.

  • It’s vital you know what your CCTV system is there to achieve – is it to watch for intruders in your home, monitor your driveway, garden or gates, or identify anyone who enters your home? Once you decide what you need CCTV for, you can tell your supplier who can then advise what type of system is best suited
  • There are four main CCTV image categories:
  • Monitoring – cameras provide a wide-angle view of an area, showing what people within it are doing. It does not allow for identification of those people
  • Detection – this shows people at a size where they fill approximately 10 per cent of the screen, allowing details such as clothing colour and type, and vehicle colour and make to be seen
  • Recognition – here people will fill not less than 50 per cent of the screen, allowing for recognition by those who know them well
  • Identification – people fill not less than 100 per cent of the screen, at a picture quality that enables their identity to be established beyond reasonable doubt
  • Installing CCTV to protect your property against intruders and trespassers within the footprint of your domestic property is entirely legal. However cameras must not cover part or all of any neighbouring properties
  • Modern systems using internet-based, or IP, CCTV mean footage can be delivered to mobile phones and accessed worldwide. Cameras can be motion activated, can deliver remote alerts to your phone, and be monitored remotely by professional companies
  • All cameras should be fitted with robust anti-tamper housing to reduce interference and vandalism
  • Regular maintenance is required to keep your system working properly, including cleaning lenses every two months and regularly checking image quality to check they are correctly adjusted to the conditions
  • If the system you choose allows images to be recorded, they must be time and date stamped, and the system should include a CD or DVD burner
  • Recording equipment should be kept in a secure area with restricted access. The hard drive where footage is recorded must be protected against theft or any evidence gathered would be lost
  • Your hard drive needs to be big enough to store seven days of footage. Any discs of CCTV recordings should be stored in a secure place
  • Software should allow for searches at specific dates and times, and for a stand-alone video player to be included on each disc burned
  • Signs stating the use of CCTV act as a deterrent and should be large enough to be easily seen
  • If you want your CCTV to function at night, you must specify this to the supplier so suitable lighting options can be installed alongside the cameras
  • Always use a reputable company to install your CCTV – both the National Security Inspectorate (www.nsi.org.uk) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (www.ssaib.org) list companies that meet the essential standards
  • As with alarms, CCTV alone cannot fully protect your property – you also need to ensure you have good security habits and physical security measures. Read our home security guide for more information 

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your property with CCTV email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Preventing catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converters are designed to remove toxins from vehicle emissions, and contain small amounts of three precious metals: platinum, palladium and rhodium. The value of these metals means the theft of a catalytic converter can provide a substantial return to a thief.

If your catalytic converter is stolen, you’ll know about it because your vehicle will sound different. Transit/Sprinter vans and other high clearance vehicles are especially vulnerable, but there are steps you can take to help prevent this crime:

Advice for motorists

  • Where possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage, as close to your home as possible or in a parking spot overlooked by residents
  • Consider installing a Thatcham approved alarm to your vehicle. Ones that activate if the vehicle is lifted or tilted are particularly effective
  • Consider using a catalytic converter protection device or marking system approved by www.securedbydesign.com. For further advice email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk
  • If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to police. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations

Advice for businesses

  • Employ defensive parking to ensure vehicles that are most vulnerable to theft are parked where they are least accessible to thieves. Consider blocking high clearance vehicles in with low clearance ones to prevent a would-be thief from getting underneath
  • Check your perimeter security. Ensuring your business has an appropriate boundary fence will act as a deterrent to opportunist catalytic converter thieves
  • Use lighting to illuminate areas where an intruder may be seen or attempt to operate
  • Consider investing in monitored CCTV to provide protection for your vehicle fleet
  • Check vehicle protection measures you are considering are approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Secured by Design scheme: www.securedbydesign.com

If your catalytic converter is stolen, contact police immediately by calling 101.

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your vehicles email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

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Avoid cash machine fraud

Cash machine fraud occurs when your credit or debit card – or the card’s information – is taken by fraudsters when you use a cash machine or ATM.

There are a number of ways cash machine fraudsters can operate, from hidden cameras to devices to trap your card. Knowing what to look for will help you to protect your card:

  • Check the cash machine before you use it – if you find a wobbly or bulky part which doesn’t seem to belong, it could mean the cash machine has been tampered with. If you have any doubt, don’t use it
  • Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Take care your hand movements don’t make it obvious which buttons you’re pressing
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If someone is standing close to you at the cashpoint, get your card back without withdrawing cash and walk away
  • Some cash machines are built entirely by fraudsters. Be cautious using a standalone machine, rather than a hole in the wall, which is embedded in the front of a building such as a bank
  • Your safety is the most important thing. Don’t approach anyone you think has been acting suspiciously and if you find loose parts on a cash machine don’t take them away with you. Report any concerns about cash machine tampering to police on 101, or dial 999 if a crime is in progress
  • If you spot purchases and withdrawals on your account that you don’t remember making or cannot have made, contact your bank immediately using your card issuer’s emergency number – store it in your phone so you always have it with you
  • If your card is retained by a cash machine for whatever reason, call your bank straight away so it cannot be used
  • Report what’s happened to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk

To speak to our crime prevention team email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Download a leaflet with more detailed advice on understanding and preventing cash machine fraud below.

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Boat and marina security

After spending time and money on your boat, the last thing you want is to become a victim of crime. Thieves are attracted to all kinds of items found in marinas and harbours, but taking steps to keep your boat secure will help protect it.

  • Before you go ashore, place all valuables out of sight in a strong, padlocked locker
  • Don’t leave anything loose in the cockpit or on deck – thieves steal first and think about value later
  • Fit an alarm and use visible markings such as window stickers to advertise its use
  • Always keep your boat locked when no-one is on board, even for a short time
  • Don’t leave your engine key in the ignition - always take it with you
  • Keep your boat keys separate from your engine keys
  • Make sure your life raft and outboard motor are secure. If you leave things unlocked and a theft occurs, your insurance may not pay out
  • Use strong padlocks or rimlocks on all your hatches, entry points and cockpit lockers
  • Keep unused ropes, fenders and other items out of sight in your cockpit lockers and cupboards – and always lock them
  • Mark everything you buy for your boat with your home postcode
  • Be a good neighbour – get to know other owners in your marina and keep an eye on other boats
  • Report any strangers to the harbour master or yard master, and don’t let anyone you don’t know in, however genuine they may seem

To speak to our crime prevention team about protecting your property email crimeprevention@northants.pnn.police.uk

Download a leaflet with more detailed advice on protecting your boat below.

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