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Are you safe and secure for winter?

NOW THAT THE clocks have gone back and the evenings are darker, we all need to think about our safety and the security of our homes. Crime is still rare, and the chances are very much that you will not be a victim. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your personal risk even further.

If you don’t get back from work till late in the evening, casual burglars will be able to see there’s no one at home because there’s no lights on. They can then use the cover of darkness to try to gain entry to your empty home. The Metropolitan Police advise that you leave lights on so that your home does not look obviously empty. Don’t just leave the hall light on. Buy timer switches and plug table lamps into them. Modern timer switches don’t just have on/off settings, so set them so that the lamps come on and go off at different times, giving a more natural look.

The Metropolitan Police do not have the resources to investigate every burglary exhaustively, but they do visit every burglary they are called to. If you do come home and find that someone’s been in, try not to disturb anything and call the police straight away. The less you have disturbed the site, the easier it will be for the police to collect forensic evidence – which could be key to investigations and, eventually, a conviction.

The Metropolitan Police are working with other police forces across the country to reduce the number of burglaries by targeting criminals who are handling stolen goods. The Met is also targeting criminals who target vulnerable people and pretend to be officials in order to gain access to their homes.

However, the most successful initiative is probably the Met Police MetTrace kits, which have been handed out to over 287,000 London residents and will go to another 108,750 households in the next ten months. The kits contain free SmartWater forensic marking equipment, as well as crime prevention advice. To date, they appear to have been successful in reducing burglaries in the areas where they have been distributed.

Metropolitan Police safety advice

Keep your home safe by following the Three Step Protect Protocol: Valuables, Building, Outside. Consider all three areas to protect your home from burglary.

Protect your valuables
·Don’t advertise your goods. Always keep valuables like tablets and laptops out of sight from windows and store keys away from the letterbox.
·Consider buying a safe or using other safe storage providers.
·Help police identify your property if stolen by using a property marking kit and taking photos. The MPS is currently providing SmartWater kits as part of the MetTrace operation. For more information go to:
www.met.police.uk/mettrace

Safeguard your building
·Lock all windows and double lock doors when you go out, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
·Make your home look occupied: use timer lights when the nights get longer, and cancel deliveries if you’re going away.
·Make sure your locks are strong enough to keep burglars out.

Secure your outside
·Keep gates, sheds and garages locked and don’t leave tools lying around as they can be used to break in.
·Keep hedges at the front low and install outdoor lighting, so burglars have nowhere to hide.
·Install trellises and spiky plants to stop burglars from climbing over fences.

For more advice on how to keep your home safe, visit www.met.police.uk/burglary.

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