Posts Tagged 'break in'

She’s a waterfall…


What do the burglary team do all day? Sometimes we fight foes on top of waterfalls. We do other stuff too though…

What do the burglary team at Local CID do all day?

The obvious answer would be that we look for clues with our magnifying glasses, try on deerstalkers and place pins on large wall maps.

To be fair, this is pretty accurate.

Without magnifying glasses, we’d miss the vital piece in the jigsaw that cracks the case.

No deerstalkers and nobody would know we’re from CID, no randomly-placed map pins and our office wouldn’t look professional.

Whilst it is pretty accurate, the role does involve more than just fighting nemesis at the top of the Reichenbach Falls*.

For the burglary team, one of the first things we do in the morning is to check overnight crime to see what’s been happening on our beats.

Any house burglaries that we find, we look into to see what areas they’re in, how they’ve been committed etc and then will give the victim a call for an update.

We’ll chase up any forensic results, check out the intelligence using our clever computers and follow up any oustanding enquiries with witnesses and CCTV.

One of the most important things we’ll then do is to liaise with a magpie.

This isn’t the result of something funny being slipped into our pipes, rather the ‘magie’ officer is a specialist who links in with the pawn shops and helps track down stolen property.

Aside snooping around the second hand market, the magpie officer also makes enquiries with the National Mobile Property Register – the ‘PNC of property’ – to check that outstanding items are correctly listed.

If there’s sufficient evidence, we speak to the Local Priority Team and Offender Managers who can lend assistance with arrests, we then conduct property searches to help locate evidence before interview suspects at the station.

If all goes to plan following an arrest then hopefully we’re able to charge and remand (keep in the cells) our suspect and dispatch him or her to court the following day.

Whilst this is a flavour of the sort of work the burglary team does, it’s important to point out that by following some simple crime prevention advice, many of the burglaries that come to us could be avoided.

You’re likely to pick up some handy tips on our Safer Homes website on how to keep your home secure, equally important though is to register all of your goods on the property register.

Doing so is quick, easy and will cost you no pennies whatsoever.

Simply log onto and start listing your valuables Рdoing so makes it much, much easier for us to identify them so please make it the next website you visit! 

* Realistically this only happens once or twice a month.

How low are you willing to go?

Stolen in a recent charity shop burglary, can you help with enquiries?

Stolen in a recent charity shop burglary, can you help with enquiries?

The below press release was issued by our Corporate Communications department recently following a burglary at the St Giles Hospice Shop in Walsall Town Centre, I’m republishing it here too in case anyone missed it.

I’m in charge of the case and with the victim being a cancer charity, I’m obviously keen to do all I can to find out who was responsible.

Please feel free to forward on this appeal and as per the below, if you have any information that may help then please let us know or pass it on anonymously via Crimestoppers.

Walsall Town Centre Charity Shop Targeted

Walsall Police are appealing for information following a burglary at a charity shop in the town centre.

Thieves smashed their way into the St Giles Hospice Shop on the High Street at some point between Saturday 22 March at 3:40pm and Monday 24 March at 8:20am.

A grey Navman iCN320 sat-nav was stolen from a display cabinet before the thieves made good their escape.

PC Stanley, from the Walsall Investigation Team, said: “This was a particularly cruel break in with the victim being a charity shop run by volunteers.

“The St Giles Shop raises money for people suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses, we are keen to catch and prosecute the persons responsible as soon as possible.

“We urge people in the local area to think if they have been offered such an item for sale in recent and if they may have information to pass to the investigation team.”

Anyone with information is urged to call PC Stanley on 101 or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

You’re the devil in disguise…

There’s been a slight rise in ‘distraction’ burglaries in Streetly and Aldridge – beware!

To write this blog, I’ve had to battle with several competing distractions. They were in no particular order as follows -

  • Looking out window to see if there were any interesting shaped clouds to be spotted
  • Watching some videos of geeks completing ‘speed runs’ of old video games (‘Zelda: Ocarina of Time’ to be specific)
  • Browsing the Krispy Kreme doughnuts website

All in all, none of these distraction actually helped me write the blog. You could say they hindered me.

Anyhoo, the reason that I’m now writing this blog rather than searching YouTube for a ‘perfect’ video combining cats AND bacon is that I need to bring to your attention a slight rise in ‘distraction’ type of burglaries that we’ve experienced recently in the Streetly and Aldridge areas of Walsall.

The exact method varies but often it’ll be some heartless miscreant knocking on an elderly person’s door claiming to be offering roofing insulation, gardening work or maybe even stating that they’re from the police.

Having gained entry, they’ll then use the opportunity to take what they can before making a swift exit with some of their victim’s property.

As I’ve written about lately, a recent variant of this type of crime is the ‘Courier Fraud’ scam whereby the victim is phoned by someone who obtains their bank details and then sends round a courier to pick up their bank card claiming it’s required as evidence.

These crimes are particularly cruel and so I’d ask that everyone remain vigilant for suspicious persons in their neighbourhoods and keep an eye on elderly neighbours in case they receive unwanted visitors.

Please spread the word to those folk not yet wired into the internet and remember, if you do notice something or someone that happens to set off you ‘there’s something about this that isn’t right’ alarm, please contact us straight away.

You can phone us on 101 or in an emergency, dial 999.

Gather as much detail as you can safely do – descriptions of people, vehicles, registration plates etc – and let us know so that we can swoop in and investigate before another local person falls victim to the scammers.

Fight crime by PUNCHING IT ON THE NOSE at the following websites:

I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree…

Dear Santa,

This year I feel I have been exceptionally well behaved. I have arrested lots of bad guys, I have kept my pocket note book up to date and I’ve even done my best to stick to my ‘fewer doughnuts’ resolution.

As such I hope you don’t mind me sending you a little Christmas list, seeing as I should be on the good list and all?

I’m not asking for a Dreamcast, a Furby or whatever else it is that the kids are wanting this year – what I’m actually asking for is you to do something for me.

I know that each year you zoom around the planet at 1,800 miles per second, diving into people’s homes and distributing presents to all the (good) boys and girls.

What I’d really, really like is that whilst you’re disregarding the flying sleigh speed limits, you take into account the following few requests and help ensure that you make this my jolliest Christmas ever.

Here’s what I’m asking that you do:

  • I know that to make things a little easier on yourself you sometimes leave presents out a little early. Do you think you could put them somewhere out of sight until the big day, just so that no naughty elves walk past and spot them through the window?
  • When you’re nosing around people’s houses for mince pies, carrots and brandy, please check that people’s doors and windows are closed and locked
  • If when you’re up on the rooftops you happen to spot suspicious folk loitering around below, could you give the police a call on 101 and let us know so we can check it out?
  • Should you have time between mince pies, maybe you check out our 12 Days of Christmas website and find out more about festive crime prevention?

Thank you!

(PC) Richard

You should have known by now you were on my list…

Want to increase the chances of your stolen property finding its way back to you if recovered? Get it registered on the Nation Mobile Property Register for free!

The other day I was sat in the Investigation Team office with a serious look on my face as I was busy with some very serious police work. I would have continued with said serious work were it not for two response officers wondering in with a PlayStation 3 under their arms.

What was happening? Why weren’t they out fighting crimes?

Well, I think several on my team were hopeful there was about to be an impromptu FIFA tournament – teams were picked and the location of the nearest TV was discussed.

Luckily for me this was not to be the case (my FIFA skills extend no further than repeatedly pressing the ‘hoof the ball into the stands’ button), rather the console they thought might be stolen and they wanted someone to check it to confirm it as being ‘hot’ property.

Breaking my concentration from a particularly engaging prosecution file, I volunteered to help out as I am one of the many officers with access to the National Mobile Property Register (NMPR).

The National what you ask?

Well, as I’ve referenced previously, the NMPR is a big old archive of property that we bobbies can browse when we recover items to see if they’ve been nicked.

By using the totally free Immobilise website, you can build up a ‘vault’ of all your valuables with their serial numbers and even photographs which is then added to the NMPR. We then use this incredibly useful system to help reunite stolen goods with their rightful owners.

Having logged on, we took down the console’s serial number and I tapped it into the NMPR to see what results we got.

Internet cogs turned, the computer made a few grinding noises and half a second later we got a bright red notification linked to the serial number confirming that the PlayStation was indeed stolen property.

This wasn’t all we got though, we also got crime details relating to the original theft meaning we were able to contact the police force that had dealt and arrange for the item to be returned to its rightful owner.

To work as it did in this example, property needs to be registered in the first place so without hesitation I’d encourage you to go and do the following:

  1. Make a note of the serial numbers on all your various gadgets and gizmos
  2. Take photos of jewellery and other keepsakes that might lack serial numbers
  3. Get yourself over to and register everything on the National Mobile Property Register for free

So there we have it, three simple steps that you can take here and now to drastically increase the chances of getting your wares back if they fall into the wrong hands.

There was no FIFA tournament for either us or the criminals as arrangements were made to get the console returned to its rightful owner, all because that owner had taken the very sensible step of registering it in advance.

Behind That Locked Door…

Everyone knows that by exploiting a weak point in the Death Star’s design, the Rebel Alliance blew it up. Did you know that your household locks may have a similar weakness that criminals could exploit? (Image from mharrsch)

For reasons known only to Darth Vader, when the engineers were designing the Death Star they built in a vent that should someone happen to shoot down, the entire space station would instantly be rendered inoperable by virtue of it being scattered across the galaxy.

This wasn’t a good idea but then weak points, deliberate or otherwise, rarely are which raises the question of why they exist in the first place.

Even though the whole Death Star thing happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, weak points are still things that crop up from time to time and at the moment in the world of home security, are causing a few issues in relation to a type of lock commonly used on uPVC doors.

The ‘Euro cylinder’ is a type of lock that’s often found on plastic doors and like the Death Star, unfortunately has a weak point that criminals with tools a lot less sophisticated than proton torpedoes have been able to exploit.

The method, known as lock snapping, involves using a tool to apply force to the lock cylinder which then responds by snapping at its weakest point. It takes minutes to do and and allows the bad guy to simply open the door and step inside.

In Yorkshire the lock snapping method has been a factor in a quarter of their burglaries and unfortunately, criminals in other areas are getting wise to this simply way of gaining access to people’s homes.

What can you do to secure your own Death Star then?

First of all you need to identify whether your locks are the type that are vulnerable to being snapped.

It’s hard to tell just from looking at them which is Euro cylinder type although this photo shows what they generally look like. Better, ask a locksmith for advice as to which locks you have.

If you have Secured by Design standard doors (fitted after 2010) then you should be okay, older locks though may need to be checked.

Having identified any Euro cylinder style locks, you then want to consider upgrading the barrels to break secure models. You need not replace the entire door, just the mechanism which should be a fairly quick job for a professional.

Combined with following the other sensible crime prevention tips I have offered on this blog over the years (here, there, here, here, here and there too), as well as our Safer Homes advice, you should considerably lower the chances that you’ll return home to discover a break in.

The weak point in the Death Star is generally considered a good thing, depending on whose side you’re on. The same can’t be said about your locks though so go check them before a criminal does it for you!

I don’t think I ever seen so many headlights…

Seen the helicopter up overhead and five police cars dashing off in the same direction? A sign of a huge incident perhaps? Not necessarily, how we allocate resources to jobs depends on a variety of factors as you’ll see below.

Fairly frequently I receive the following tweet from a curious member of the public – ‘There are six police cars blocking off such and such street and I’ve just seen the helicopter drop a police dog down somebody’s chimney, do you know what’s happening?’.

Often I’m off duty when I get these messages so am in no better position than anyone else to say, sometimes if I am in and have heard what’s occurring on the radio I may be able to give a general idea, although the best place to look for information is usually our official departmental social media feeds.

As it is, the sight of police car after police car zooming by usually gives the impression that something big is going down nearby, ‘big’ as in headlines of the news at six and front page material.

Curiously though it isn’t necessarily true that the more the officers, the more serious the incident they’re on their way to. How we allocate resources to jobs depends a range of factors extending beyond simply that Godzilla is kicking down bits of Streetly.

Some jobs require as many officers to attend as possible in the first instance as without ‘flooding the area’ as we call it, we determine it’s likely that we won’t get the outcome we’re looking for.

Young missing children would be a good example of this – the usual response when we get a report of a toddler having wondered off in the Saddlers Centre is to ask anyone available to make the location straight away and help with the search.

The longer we leave it, the further an inquisitive young explorer can crawl and so with each passing minute, our search area grows.

The same logic applies to other incidents too – a robbery for example will (literally) attract every man and his dog as we want to maximise our chance of catching suspects.

Sometimes you may see large number of vehicles at an incident because we have some information that we might need a large number of officers for safety or perhaps to stop someone slipping out the back door.

Prior to arrest attempts, for example, we’ll check what we know about the person we’re after and if there are suggestions that he or she has been violent in the past or has a tendency not to stick around, we’ll then ensure we have enough pairs of boots to prevent issues.

Deciding who goes to what is largely the job of the control room who will allocate cars to incidents as soon as they’re sent across from the 999 operators.

Jobs involving violence or some other disturbance will usually attract pairs of officers, as some of those responding may well be patrolling single crewed then you may see the cars stacking up outside a neighbouring house giving the impression that something huge is happening whereas in reality, it’s simply down to the fact that officers have brought a car each.

When it comes to deploying the helicopter, probably our most visible bit of kit, its presence doesn’t necessarily mean there’s been a Holby City-style disaster, rather that officers on the ground have determined that asking for a flyover would likely help them spot something not visible at street level.

Metal thieves laying low on rooftops, criminals running off down footpaths or vulnerable people wondering through large open areas are all the sort of situations that may well involve us calling up the chopper.

As for who comes out to jobs, sometimes who might find that the type of unit arriving isn’t quite what you might expect.

I’ve heard recently firearms officers arriving at car accidents and police vans checking out trouble causing drunks in the town centre – this isn’t because they were specifically asked for, rather because the officers will have overheard jobs on the radio and volunteered to attend in the first instance because they may have been close by and are willing to help out until a more appropriate unit arrives.

So in short, the number of officers arriving at an incident doesn’t necessarily indicate that something major has happened and nor does the type of vehicle or officer that we send.

It’s all down to what’s happening on the day – it could be Godzilla on a rampage, equally so though it could be that another officer or two is needed to help with some traffic control.

The jobs where there has been a major incident with us calling in officers from far and wide – the bomb scares, large fires and serious road accidents as examples – usually attract a tweet or two from @WMPolice or one of the local feeds so if you’re ever curious to know what’s happening, check them out as they’re your best source of information.

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