For those of you who have been a victim of burglary, you will know first-hand that gut-wrenching feeling of your home and property being violated by strangers.
It’s truly sickening and frightening, and it leaves a deep sense of anxiety that can stay with a person or a whole family for the rest of their days.
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 offenders will continue to seek easy targets.
Now that autumn has arrived and the nights are drawing in much earlier, this remains a prime time for criminals to strike.
All too often, householders are making their properties an attractive proposition for burglars and thieves by leaving them in darkness.
However, a few simple steps are all it takes to counter this risk. Our key ‘dark night’ crime prevention advice includes:
l A well-lit home gives the impression that someone is in. Use timer switchers to turn lights on while you are out
l Don’t leave curtains closed during the day, only in the evening and overnight
l 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 measure
l Keep valuable items and car keys out of sight and out of reach
l Always secure garages, outbuildings, sheds and gates
l Fit security lighting in your garden – remember, criminals hate being seen
l 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
l You can also photograph your property and register it free of charge at www.immobilise.com
l Always report suspicious activity to the police by calling 101 for non-emergencies
l In an emergency or if a crime is in progress, always dial 999
l If you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can still pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
I realise this is a scary subject and will leave some people, especially those who are elderly and vulnerable, feeling frightened. Believe me, this is the last thing I want to do.
However, it would be wrong to bury our heads in the sand and naively hope that nothing will happen. None of us can afford such complacency.
I will be satisfied if even just a handful of you good folk take decisive action to secure your home and property after reading this column.
You will be taking a positive step in keeping criminals at bay.
The more people who take on board the crime prevention advice, alongside our ongoing proactive policing operations to catch and disrupt offenders in our area, the safer we will become and the safer we will 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.