Sunday, 4 December 2011

4 thefts a day in the Bush: Some crime advice

Sgt Steve Gilbert
Sergeant Steve Gilbert, of the Shepherd's Bush Safer Neighbourhood Team, has been in touch with some crime advice he has asked me to share with you.

In light of the four thefts per day he mentions, and the graphic examples of how these thefts have occured, what he has to say is well worth listening to.

So here's Steve::

Are you looking after your belongings?

In recent months the ward of Shepherds Bush Green (including Westfield's) is encountering, on average, 4 items of personal property a day being stolen.

To explain what type of theft I am talking about I will give some examples:

Man goes into newsagents to buy a paper. He has his phone in his hand. He puts it on counter so he can get some money out of his pocket. He walks out and forgets his phone. He returns 30 minutes later and no one knows where his phone is. Someone has now stolen it.

Lady is in changing room of a large clothing shop. She takes her handbag with her whilst she tries on some new jeans. She puts them on and goes for a short walk, just along the changing room corridor to test them. She returns to her cubicle and discovers her bag is now missing. The changing rooms are busy but no one noticed anything unusual. Someone has stolen her bag.

Male goes to a music concert. He puts his iphone in his back jeans pocket. He thinks this is OK because it fits comfortably and snugly so couldn't fall out. He leaves the concert after dancing a bit and enjoying the atmosphere. He leaves and tries to call a cab. No phone, someone has stolen it.

Female has a tough week at work, together with a group of colleagues they go to a pub after work for a well earned drink. She puts her bag containing her work lap top under her chair. Her colleagues are sitting around so she feels everything is safe. She doesn't even get up to go to bar or toilet. After 1 hour she goes to pick up her bag and it is gone. Someone has stolen it.

The local police are committed to catching pick pockets and bag thieves. Plain clothes officers regularly patrol area looking for thieves. Officers investigating crimes do seek out CCTV pictures of suspects and try to identify them.

There are some organised gangs operating that steal thousands of pounds worth of belongings from people across the UK. They are difficult to recognise as they dress and behave to blend in with their surroundings.
There are also many selfish and greedy people that may never have been in trouble with police. If they see an unattended item their greed may and does cause them to take it.

Everyone has their own perception about how to look after their belongings. The police would like to give you all the benefit of their experience with some good advice.

If you regularly walk around with a wallet or phone in your hand please try and put it in your pocket rather than putting it down on a counter or table. Police do not advise people to walk late at night in quiet areas whilst talking or texting on the phone.

When shopping you are normally surrounded by like minded people and the process of buying things can be distracting. Do not leave your bag or belongings unattended even for a short time. This also includes trips to supermarket when you may be tempted to hang your bag or sit your bag in shopping trolley. It only takes a second, whilst you are browsing the shelf, for someone to pick up your bag.

Putting items in a back pocket is not a good idea. A wallet or a phone soon feels comfortably in place and you forget it is there. It is also the easiest pocket for a pickpocket to target.

Taking bags out when you are socialising can be troublesome. Finding somewhere safe for it to sit whilst you enjoy yourself isn't always straight forward. If you plan to have a few drinks try and organise the security whilst it is clear in your mind.

Simple tips would be….

Put your bag where you can see it (never under a chair or on the back of your chair).

If you will leave it for a short time make sure someone else is aware and can watch it.

Some pubs, coffee shops and restaurants have fitted "Chelsea Clips" under tables where bag is attached and takes a while and delicate touch to remove it (Thieves hate these as it takes too long to unhook it). Please use them.

Please make a note of serial numbers of your electronic devices. You can record them securely on line at . Police regularly recover items that may be stolen and check this database. A stolen item can then be identified where it came from and reunited with its loser.

If you are out and about be neighbourly, if you see someone going for a bag and you've plainly see it isn't theirs just a simple "Excuse me is that your bag?" A thief doesn't like being noticed and will put them off. If you see suspicious people that you feel may be a pickpocket or thief point them out to security or a police officer where possible.

And finally please pass on this message to all your friends and relatives. It is a big burden on your stress levels to lose a computer or your mobile phone.

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