Posts Tagged 'burglary'

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

If you’d call me now, baby, I’d come a running…

Metal theft – give us a call and help us scrap it!

Just a quick one this to say how much difference it can make when you good people (the general public) take the time to pick up the phone and let us people (police types) know when something just ain’t right.

I’ve spent today dealing with a prisoner arrested for metal theft.

It’s a big problem in the Midlands, metal being nicked, and we’re keen to tackle the problem as we know nobody likes their roof leaking when the flashing has been taken, or their train being delayed because some silly sausage has taken the cabling.

My prisoner became a prisoner because a vigilant member of the public had noticed him up on a factory roof acting in a suspicious manner, ducking down when cars went by.

Thinking ‘Holy smokes, something’s awry at the old foundry!’, our goodly member of the public dialled 9 on his phone. Then 9. Then finally 9 once more. 999. My number.

The operator took the details, agreed with him that something wasn’t right and dispatched officers immediately.

As officers happened to be patrolling just around the corner, they arrived literally about two minutes after the call had been made and bumped into a dodgy chap who just happened to be covered in what appeared to be lead. Oh dear, oh dear.

He’s arrested, he’s charged with metal theft shortly afterwards and as I don’t much like letting prisoners go, I ensured that he’s been kept in our dingy cells until court on Monday morning.

Without that initial call, the above might not have happened and the same dodgy chap may well be out and about now causing misery for someone else.

If something doesn’t seem right to you, the best thing you can do is call us either on 999 or on 101 in a non-emergency – you never know how valuable your call could be.

P.S. Apologies that the flow of bloggles has eased off a little recently, it’s been a busy period but will try kick-starting things again after Santa has been!

Take it where you find it…

Should your stuff be stolen, what can you do to help increase the chances that you’ll get it back?

The first question I’m often asked when taking a report of a theft concerns how likely it is that the victim will get their stuff back.

The likelihood sometimes comes down to how ‘clever’ (relatively speaking) the thief has been in disposing of the goods, although there are steps that it’s always a good idea to take in the short term as they can only increase the chances of recovering goods.

When we arrest folk under suspicion of theft, we have a power to go and search their homes and this is something that we do to see if they’ve been stupid enough to leave behind any evidence of their crime.

We’re not always lucky when it comes to searches and this is because when it comes to offloading stolen goods, it’s something that criminals will want to do as soon as possible to avoid getting caught red handed.

Wanting to be rid of the ‘hot’ goods, it’s a buyer’s market and the items will be sold for a fraction of their value.

With goods being quickly offloaded, there are some sensible steps that you can take to follow the trail yourself and help raise the chances of seeing your stuff again.

Said sensible steps that I’d be looking to take following discovering a theft are as follows:

  • Have a search around the local area: Particularly in burglaries, criminals sometimes stash goods in hedges etc so that they can return at a later point and ‘find’ them with it then being harder to connect them with the crime. Have a good look around local undergrowth, wastelands and woods to see if there are any signs that something has been stashed.
  • Browse online: I recently dealt with a job where the victim found his stolen goods for sale on eBay and was able to alert us so we could follow up the lead. Check the auction sites, message boards, local papers etc and see if your goods have appeared.
  • Check the pawn shops: Most respected pawn brokers take photographs of people bringing in things to sell and ask for ID too, this isn’t to say that it’s not worth checking though.

The above tips go hand in hand with the advice I’ve given before and will continue to give until I’m about to retire with a long Gandolf beard, this is that you should make a list of all of your valuables and register them on Immobilise.

It’s simple enough – without serial numbers, identifying features or photographs it can be frustratingly difficult to tell who things belonged to when they’re been recovered suspected stolen.

Immobilse is a totally free online property register allowing you to put together a list of your valuables that we can then check and use to get goods back to you.

Pawn shops check serial numbers against the database also and in another real life example I’d dealt with recently, a pawn shop had stopped the sale of a PS3 when they found it was nicked.

We then checked ourselves, confirmed the theft and contacted the rightful owner to arrange its return.

So there they are, a few handy tips for property recovery and there’s little else for me to add than another reminder, this time in shouting capital letters and bold font, that if you take nothing else from this blog, it ought be that you should GO AND REGISTER YOUR VALUABLES ON IMMOBILISE – please, please, please!

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 www.immobilse.com 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!

In it for the money…

None for you, pimps! The lovely Proceeds of Crime Act enables us to seize back criminals’ ill-gotten gains and it’s the Payback Team that makes it all happen.

Pimps. Things they like: Big hats, diamond encrusted canes, fur coats, monster trucks, rubies.
Things they don’t like: The Proceeds of Crime Act and the good people at the West Midlands Police Force Payback Team.
Yes, there are few things little criminals like less than being told by a wig-wearing judge that they now owe several hundred thousand pounds following a calculation of a ‘benefit figure’ indicating ‘this is is what we reckon you’ve made from crime and so this is the amount we want back’.
I’ve written about the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 before, focusing on the legal side of what we can and can’t do when we’re looking to seize a drug dealer’s pet tiger from their rear garden in Goscote.
As for who are the people who makes the POCA wheels turn, allows me to introduce the Force Payback Team who are a specialist group of officers and support staff dedicated to ensuring that crime does not pay.
Working as part of a centrally based team, the Force Payback Team tend to become involved when as part of their investigations, officers out on the street come across people living the kind of lifestyles that their benefits payments probably wouldn’t cover.
Cash over a certain value can be seized and forfeited by the courts regardless of whether they are accompanied by a criminal prosecution.
The Force Payback Team can also apply for confiscation orders through the courts following a criminal conviction and includes a calculation as to how much someone has profited from their illegitimate pursuits.
Should the criminals ignore orders made against them, they can be sent to prison for up to 10 years and still have to pay the money back.  If not paid the courts can get receivers in to gather up all the Bugattis, cash, houses and anything else of value and haul them off to sell.
So far this financial year the Force Payback Team have been responsible for recovering over £3 million in cash and nearly £2.5 million in assets.
Of the recovered bounty, 50% is returned to the force and 50% finds its way to the Home Office whilst for assets, the force receives 18.5% of the total reflecting the work and greater number of agencies involved in recovering assets.
So then, we’ve done the hard work and one day an anonymous civil servant from the Home Office turns up at Force HQ with a suitcase of cash. What are we going to do with it? Where does it go?
Well, whilst I have had my eye on those voice activated Apple iHandcuffs with the built-in wifi, the true benefit of the cash is really in enabling us to reinvest in some very important community projects.
Local examples of where POCA cash has ended up include a £750 to the Sea Cadets and funding Walsall’s futuristic Cyberbus which floats around the LPU addressing ASB issues.
Many of the successful seizures to have come from the Payback Team’s work will have started off with a phone call from a member of the public to their local officers suggesting that someone on their street seems to be managing the income from their paper round remarkably well as they’ve just picked up a new BMW.
As such if you suspect that someone’s income isn’t entirely legitimate, please give us a call on 101 or approach Crimestoppers anonymously.
Criminals only stand to lose and the community stands to gain – this is the way things should be!

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout – I’m telling you why…

Christmas is just around the corner, are you prepared for a ‘reverse burglary’ by Santa Clause though? Read on!

Christmas time is here. Check out www.isitchristmas.com tomorrow and it’ll confirm as much – December 25th is only hours away and with it will almost certainly come a massive rise in strange ‘reverse burglaries’.

What exactly is a ‘reverse burglary’ you ask? Well, you may recall last year I featured several posts from Force CID’s DS Kimo on our attempts to capture a suspect known to us as ‘Santa Clause’.

First of all there was our appeal for witnesses which was followed by the arrest of Clause the very next day. We thought we had the case nailed but then on Christmas Eve there was shocking news – our suspect turned out to be an imposter and the real Clause was still at large.

We’d failed and the consequence was that Clause broke into millions of houses around the world over the next few hours, stealing small amounts of brandy but leaving behind high value goods under people’s Christmas trees.

One year on and whilst the operation to capture Clause is ongoing, it’s looking unlikely that he’ll be located before he strikes again this evening.

As this is the case, the best I can offer is a few Christmas crime prevention tips from DS Kimo on how you can best safeguard your house against a strike by Clause himself.

Here’s the advice from the man in the know:

  • Hide the mince pies – Never leave small plates of mince pies and a glass of brandy on open display. We know that Clause pretty much lives off these and they’re as good as an invitation for him to come in and wreak havoc.
  • Block your chimney – Any hardware store should be able to supply the tools you’ll need to ensure that the chimney is not accessible. This is essential as 99% of the time Clause gains access to properties by the chimney.
  • Throw away your ‘Santa Stop Here’ sign – At any other time of year would you put up a sign welcoming burglars? Of course not, don’t encourage the jolly fat man!
  • Obstruct his landing strip – All available intel suggests that Santa reaches rooftops by using a magical sleigh drawn by reindeer. Litter your rooftop with barriers to frustrate his landing and maybe slop a little anti-vandal paint around too.
  • Know what to look for – We believe Clause usually wears a bright red suit with white fur lining and heavy boots, he shouldn’t be hard to spot.
  • Listen out - As well as wearing a bright red suit, Santa seems to have trouble keeping the noise down. If he’s nearby you will probably be able to hear him laughing loudly and encouraging his reindeer to take flight.
  • Don’t write to him – Clause operates in a strange way, he seems to receive letters sent to him up the chimney and then a few weeks later arrives with many of the requested items. Don’t make it easy for him, if he doesn’t know what you want he may not come in the first place.

Now I’m on duty this evening on a special ‘Santa watch’ team so we’ll be keeping our eyes open for any Clause-related activity in the Walsall area and we’ll need you to do the same.

If you do suspect that you’ve seen Clause, please get in touch with me via Twitter and I’ll see what I can do about sending a car or two over.

Beyond this stay safe and have a very merry Christmas!

Rich

Burglary and fireworks, the skies they were alighting…

When I was younger, around this time of the year Michael Burke would usually dedicate an episode of 999 to the dangers of fireworks.

In a frighteningly realistic re-enactment of a real life accident, ‘Johnny’ would bound over to his stunted firework, peer over it and casually get a rocket blasting up his left nostril.

The real life Johnny would reflect on the accident from a studio and then Burke would come along and remind everyone that pretty as fireworks are, they’re also filled with explosives as determined to blow you up as they are to entertain your marshmallow-filled guests.

As it is the case that fireworks are ‘ooooh, aaaahh’ inspiring and potentially dangerous in equal measure, the law imposes certain controls on their sale and use.

Today is November Fifth and so in the best British tradition of not setting of fireworks at any time other than Guido Fawkes Night itself, here is a quick overview of some of the key regulations covering the only explosives you’re likely to come across without falling fowl of the terrorism laws.

First of all, you need to have reached the wise old age of eighteen before you’re legally allowed to purchase any kind of fireworks, including sparklers.

Not only is it illegal for under eighteens to buy fireworks, it’s also against the law for them to have them in public.

Retailers need to hold an appropriate licence and buying fireworks privately from a dodgy bloke in a pub car park is as sure a way to get an arm blown off as wearing a bracelet made of hand grenades.

As for when you can set them off, the curfew set by the Fireworks Regulations 2004 states that you usually need to have your last rocket in the air by 11PM or 23:00, whichever you prefer.

There are certain exceptions to this curfew though, which are as follows -

  • November Fifth – the curfew is midnight
  • New Year’s Eve – an extra two hours of fireworks fun, a 1AM curfew
  • Diwali – this year on November 13th the curfew is 1AM
  • Chinese New Year – a 1AM curfew for February 10th 2013

So that covers who can have fireworks and when they can be set off, now how about where you’re allowed to get ballistic?

Moving away from our modern, iPod generation Fireworks Act, we look to S. 80 of 1875′s fluffy side burns, stove-pipe hat wearing Explosives Act which prohibits any person ‘throwing, casting, or firing any fireworks in or into any highway, street, thoroughfare, road or public place’.

For us police types, setting off fireworks in the street is a particular concern as not only being dangerous, it also causes a great deal of bother to residents who’d rather not re-enact the bombardment of Fort McHenry. Hit 9, 9 and 9 again if you see it happening.

Fireworks displays on private land aren’t an issue, although be mindful that you need the landowner’s permission beforehand.

So there we have it, a very quick run down of some of the most explosive laws on the books. Have a safe evening, enjoyable evening!


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