A new scheme to tackle an increase in burglaries where vulnerable residents are being tricked has been trialled in two parts of Ealing.
Ealing Council’s safer communities team discovered, through analysis of crime data over the past year, a marked increase in the number of distraction and artifice burglary in Northolt and Southall when compared to other postcodes in the borough.
They also found that 25% of these burglaries, where vulnerable residents are targeted by criminals using trickery, distraction or lies to gain access to their homes, were being carried out in Northolt alone.
Most of the offences reported have involved criminals pretending to be from the Water Board, or builders, claiming they need to carry out checks on the water supply for a variety of reasons. Other identities used to gain entry have included police officers and council officials or, in some cases they have just asked to use the residents’ phone. The offenders would then usually take money and jewellery from the properties.
To help tackle and prevent this type of crime the safer communities team, working in partnership with sheltered housing managers and the local police, initiated and jointly implemented a trial of the burglary prevention scheme.
The first step in October 2014 was to train staff working in sheltered housing schemes to help them identify and deal with distraction and artifice burglary. This included information about what to look out for; how to support and give advice to victims; and also how and where to report concerns.
The next step of the pilot then focused on the residents living in sheltered housing. Five sheltered homes in Northolt and Southall were visited between January 12 and 22 and residents received presentations from the council’s teams and the police. They were provided with tips and advice on the dangers of distraction and artifice burglary, including what to do whenever someone unexpected comes to the door.
During these visits, residents were also given Smart Water to mark their possessions and staff helped arrange for alarms to be fitted on the windows of all ground floor flats.
Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “The council is committed to helping our residents feel safe in their own homes. So it is particularly distasteful to have unscrupulous people targeting those who are vulnerable to the extent where they may end up living in fear of an unexpected knock on their door.
“The trial of this burglary prevention scheme is a welcome initiative that will allow residents to have better control over their own safety, and show potential perpetrators how determined we are to stamp out criminal activity in our borough.”
The pilot in Northolt and Southall has been well received by both residents and staff. Residents said the presentations made them feel more secure and helped them understand the different kinds of burglary that can take place today. One even had a new spy-hole fitted at a more appropriate height for their use as a result of the visits.
The success of the scheme will now be evaluated with the aim of the safer communities team extending it to other areas of the borough.
For more information and tips to help tackle and prevent burglary, visit www.ealing.gov.uk/staysafe or contact the council’s safer communities team on 020 8825 5994.