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New operation asks ‘If it’s too good to be true, could it be stolen?’

People are being asked to consider whether bargain deals on second-hand goods could be linked to criminal activity as a new police operation cracks down on acquisitive crime.

Operation Impede is dedicated to tackling offences such as burglary and theft from vehicles, which traditionally rise as the longer winter nights set in.

Activities will also include high-visibility patrols in hotspot areas, use of ANPR technology to target offenders, greater community engagement to provide education and prevention advice, and helping improve home security for more vulnerable residents.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Hemingway said: “We want to raise awareness of how criminals use everyday outlets and online selling sites to move stolen goods on. If you find a deal that seems too good to be true, stop and ask yourself if it could be stolen.

“Everyone likes a bargain, but do you really want to be a part of someone else’s misery? This type of crime has a real impact on victims and we’re dedicated to tackling it at source and beyond.

“If you have any information or suspicions about people handling stolen goods we want to hear from you.”

Operation Impede is also linking in with Northamptonshire Police’s recently launched AIM repeat offender scheme. This identifies prolific offenders and works to rehabilitate them to reduce crime.

Offenders who choose to cooperate are given bespoke help in addressing why they commit crime, including substance abuse and homelessness, and supported into work. Those who do not engage are targeted by enforcement officers to disrupt their criminal lifestyle.

DCI Hemingway said: “Northamptonshire Police is committed to working with ex-offenders to support their rehabilitation and reduce their offending behaviour, however those who persist in offending or refuse the support offered with be disrupted with the same vigour.” 

Advice on protecting homes, possessions and vehicles is also being shared by officers, neighbourhood and crime prevention teams and members of the Northamptonshire Emergency Services Cadets.

Sara Postlethwaite, prevention manager at Northamptonshire Police, said: “Reducing your risk of crime can be as simple as always remembering to lock windows and doors, putting a light on when it gets dark and not leaving things in view in your home or vehicle.

“We advise people to get into a regular routine around crime prevention. You can significantly reduce the chances of being targeted by thieves if you have effective security procedures at home. It’s something the whole family can get involved with and doesn’t have to cost anything.”

Anyone with information on any crime, including the handling of stolen goods, is asked to contact the police or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.

Crime prevention advice for darker nights:

At home

  • Keep front and back doors locked at all times and keep keys and valuables out of sight and reach from cat flaps, letterboxes and downstairs doors and windows
  • Close, and ideally lock, all windows when you’re not in the room – approximately one in four burglaries in the county still happen because doors have been left unlocked or windows left open
  • If it’s dark before you get home, use timer switches to turn on the lights – change the times that the lights come on, to create the illusion that someone is moving around inside the house. Plug-in dusk-to-dawn lights are also popular
  • Make sure your door is well lit and fully visible from the street – dusk-to-dawn lamp adaptors are available from DIY stores
  • Check existing lighting is in good working order and replace any faulty equipment – remember to check batteries in torches and smoke alarms
  • Keep shrubbery and hedges at the front of the house pruned to below one metre – remove any cover for a burglar to work unseen and give your neighbours every chance to spot something suspicious
  • Keep curtains closed at night – if you are away, ask a trusted neighbour to close them for you, and open them again in the morning
  • On cold mornings, never leave your car unattended with the engine running to defrost the windows
  • Assess your property’s perimeter and check it is secure. Cut back overgrown hedges and repair broken fences and gates
  • Secure sheds and outbuildings with good padlocks and consider fitting alarms. Lock all tools and ladders away securely

When out and about

  • When out in your car, look out for Park Mark accredited car parks and remove all items from your vehicle when you leave it
  • Don’t leave your keys in the ignitions, even when filling up with fuel or popping into the shop
  • De-clutter your handbag – take out only what you need and avoid carrying large amounts of cash
  • When you’re out shopping, keep all bags firmly closed and on your person at all times
  • Carry wallets and phones in inside pockets of jackets or coats, not in the back pocket of trousers
  • When using your credit or debit card, shield your PIN and take the time to make sure you safely put away your purse or wallet
  • Never leave your bag unattended on the back of trolleys or pushchairs
  • Don’t be tempted to return to your car and drop off your shopping bags – keep them with you or take them home

If you see anything suspicious, or have an information about crime or criminals, call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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