The Crime Matters column with Acting Superintendent John Wilkinson

Acting Superintendent John Wilkinson is in command of policing in Harrogate, Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire.
Acting Superintendent John Wilkinson is in command of policing in Harrogate, Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire.

The festive period is a time of year when many people like to switch-off from the rigours of everyday life, turn the heating up or pop another log onto the fire, and sit back in their favourite chair with something comforting to eat or drink – or both.

You know what it’s like: that cosy, warm feeling of relief when you can finally relax after the mad rush of work, work-related parties and seemingly never-ending Christmas shopping trips.

You can stop opportunistic thieves from stealing your presents by taking some very simple steps.

You can stop opportunistic thieves from stealing your presents by taking some very simple steps.

Yes, you’ve guessed what happens next – you end up snoring louder than a St Bernard dog, contentedly oblivious to the outside world.

While this scenario, admittedly, plays on a certain stereotype, it nevertheless represents a very real issue at this time of year of people letting their guard down and becoming complacent when it comes to home security.

Doors left unlocked after guests have long departed, presents under Christmas trees in clear view of passers-by, and homes left in darkness when visiting relatives or away on holiday.

As much as we try our very best as your local police service to tackle and deter such incidents, the stark reality is that determined and opportunistic thieves will continue to take advantage of such easy targets. To help us to help you keep criminals at bay, I strongly recommend the following essential home security advice:

○ Lock all windows and doors – it’s an obvious one, but you’d be amazed how many people forget this most basic of crime prevention measures

○ Always secure garages, outbuildings, sheds and gates

○ Fit security lighting in your garden – remember, criminals hate being seen

○ Keep Christmas presents, valuable items and car keys out of sight and out of reach

○ Use timer switches to turn lights on while you are out – a well-lit home gives the impression that someone is in

○ Don’t leave curtains closed during the day, only in the evening and overnight

○ Contact your local officers to arrange dot peen property marking free of charge. If items are lost or stolen, this helps the police identify its rightful owner and provide evidence vital in securing prosecutions

○ Photograph your property and register it free of charge at www.immobilise.com

○ Always report suspicious activity to the police by calling 101 for non-emergencies

○ In an emergency if a crime is in progress or you feel threatened, always dial 999

○ If you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can pass information about suspected crimes to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

I realise this is not the jolliest of Christmas messages, but it’s one that I would like everyone to follow.

Being a victim of burglary can be devastating and have a life-long impact on individuals and whole families.

The more people who take it on board, alongside our ongoing proactive policing operations to catch and disrupt offenders in our area, the safer we will become and actually feel in our own homes.

For more information about home security and property marking, visit www.northyorkshire.police.uk/homesecurity or contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.

You can also download the North Yorkshire Police interactive home security iBook, available for free on iPhone and iPad – just search for “Securing your home” on iTunes.

If you haven’t got access to the internet, ask a family member or a friend to assist.