Crime: reporting & preventing

Crime and suspicious activity

If you see anything you think the police should be aware of, please report it as below.  There are several ways to report it – please use one that is the most convenient for you.

999   Emergency (threat to life or property), requires immediate police attendance.
101 Non-emergency (the threat has gone and there is no further threat to life or property), anti-social behaviour and any other non-urgent calls which do not require immediate police presence (cost of the call is 15p whatever the length of the call, and the waiting times can be long, so do persevere and don’t hang up).
0800 555111 – Crime Stoppers or https://crimestoppers-uk.org/ A non-emergency confidential phone line to report any suspicious activity anonymously to police with regards to people, vehicles or properties, without having to give out your personal information or contact details.
www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/how-to-report-a-crime/ To report crime or other matters online.

Note also, that if you are reporting an ongoing problem (e.g. persistent Anti-Social Behaviour at a location) you do not need to file a report for every single occurrence. If it is a regular event, then keep a log of each occurrence over a period of, say, a couple of weeks, and then file one report with the log of activity.

Please make sure you only use these mechanisms to advise police of crimes, suspicious activity or indeed anything that concerns you which you think the police should know about. These are the only routes that the police recognise as being valid reports they are allowed to log and action. IF you “report” it via an email to the police, a WhatsApp message, or any other means, the police will NOT recognise it as being a valid report they can action.

Please also do report everything to the police. If you’re worried you are wasting police time (“they have more important things to worry about…”) do report it. They will decide what to do with it.

And if you feel there is no point in reporting it as “they never do anything about it” that is absolutely not the case. These days the police do not have the resources to personally follow up and visit you regarding every report filed with them. But every report is logged, and matched with other reports. This analysis is invaluable to the police in spotting emerging patterns, allowing them to target their resources where they can be most effective. So if, for example

  • You see someone tried to force the lock on your garden shed but didn’t get anywhere so nothing was stolen – so “no point reporting it”
  • You see someone behaving suspiciously (e.g. walking along the road and stopping to look in each parked car/ trying car door handles to see if they are locked) – but think it was “probably nothing”
  • You notice that a rented house nearby seems to have lots of visitors at all times of day and night who only stay a short time – as if they were going there to buy something – but think it’s “just me jumping to conclusions”

Report it to the police and let them decide.

Crime Prevention advice

Your Home

  • All external doors should be protected by a mortice lock.
  • All windows (upstairs and downstairs, especially Victorian sash windows) should be fitted with at least one appropriate lock.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors and especially when going out.
  • Your house should look lived in, even when you’re out. Close the curtains and leave a light on.
  • Please do not alert criminals by posting up on social media when you are away on holiday/away for a few days – it just advertises that your home is empty.

Your Garden

  • Outbuildings (sheds, garages, etc.) should be secured with a weatherproof padlock.
  • Lock them when not in use and don’t leave keys in shed or garage doors.
  • Don’t leave possessions such as bicycles outside and unsecured in your garden. Either store them in a locked outbuilding or secure them to an immovable object a stout chainlock.
  • Do not make it easy to get into your rear garden. If you have a side-gate, make sure it is locked. Make sure your rear garden fence is difficult to climb over.

Your Vehicle

  • Close car windows and lock car doors when leaving your car
  • Do not leave anything tempting on display in your car; even an empty shopping bag can tempt a thief to smash a window in case it contains something of value.
  • Register your bike on this website https://www.bikeregister.com/ ; you can report a stolen bike here too.
  • Secure mopeds/motorcycles/cycles to street furniture with decent locks.

Online/Phone Scams

Scams rely on people convincing you they are someone they are not. To minimise the risk of being caught out by a scam

  • Be suspicious of anyone who calls up “out of the blue” (someone at the door, someone calling you up, an SMS message, an email, etc.)
  • Be especially cautious if they try and get any personal information from you (including any financial details such as bank account, credit card details, etc.).
  • Avoid anyone who asks you to do something quickly/without telling anyone else (e.g. move your cash to a different account because “it has been targeted by scammers”).

We’ve gathered a number of aids to help you spot a scam – some of the examples here are quite devious.

It might seem we are over-emphasizing scams, but they really are a most iniquitous type of crime. People feel secure in their own homes and scammers exploit that to take advantage of you.

  1. The police have just released a video on three new scams that criminals are trying out. We watched this ourselves and all the scams were new to us, and we could easily have fallen victim to them
  2. Another video is from Richmond Council and shows examples of scams that involve bogus charities, pop up fake shopping sites, subscription traps, E-season greeting cards that contain viruses, loan scams, fraudulent ticket websites, and more. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Watch the video made by Richmond Council here.
  3. This article warns you of an SMS scam that claims to relate to Royal Mail trying to deliver a parcel to you (which claims to be a “new iPhone 11 you have won” in a Currys-PC World prizegiving). Remember – if it’s too good to be true, then it IS too good to be true….
  4. The attached article on telephone scams references the Christmas period, but its advice is still highly relevant. Please note the examples of scam calls and be very suspicious if someone calls you up and tries to
    • Get personal information from you (please tell me your PIN number for security reasons)
    • Tell you something needs to happen very quickly (your bank account has been hacked, we need to quickly move your money to another account) or
    • Congratulate you that you’ve had an unexpected stroke of good luck (you’ve won a lottery you didn’t remember entering).
  1. This article from the Nationwide Building Society has a very good list of the types of scams and how to spot them. Scroll down to the “Learn more about the telltale signs of common scams...” section.
  2. Finally see this website for government guidance on avoiding being scammed https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/frauds-tricks-and-scams/fraud-tricks-and-scams

Out and About

  • Do not use your mobile phone or any other gadgets in the street without being aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid displaying items of value when walking on the street (e.g. expensive watches).
  • Make sure bags cannot be easily snatched (e.g. laptop bag worn with strap across the body rather than carried in one hand).

Workmen claiming work is needed

  • Never accept a quote or offer to do work from someone knocking on your door who you have never met before.
  • The more someone says you need to act now, the more suspicious you should be.
  • If you are tempted, please take the time to phone the company to verify the people you are speaking to, check on Checkatrade (www.checkatrade.com) and make an appointment for them to come back at a later date in order that you are not rushed into making a decision.