There always seem to be new scams making appearances every year at Christmas, and this year it is the London Borough of Wandsworth which is suffering first, leaving Wandsworth Council to warn homeowners of a new burglary scam. Gang members trawl the area to find vulnerable properties and if they spot one as being suitable for burglary, they will place a marker on the property to alert other members of the gang. This is a horrible, premeditated and heartless crime.
The gangs have made “24 hour locksmith” stickers, which are see-through except for text which appears to be advertising a locksmith service, complete with a fake phone number. They have been placing them on the doors of properties in Wandsworth. The Council has warned people to look out for these stickers for whilst they may look like an innocent advertising ploy, the police have made it clear that if someone has a sticker on their property, they have been singled out as being an ideal target for burglary. They say there has already been one burglar linked to the stickers and they are following up on a number of leads.
People in the area have been warned that if they find a sticker on their property, they should remove it immediately. Being vigilant to any change to the outside appearance of your property is vital. It is also worth asking yourself why you have been targeted? Perhaps there is insufficient lighting, perhaps your locks on the doors and windows are not very robust or you need to consider installing an alarm. Take a few moments to take stock of your security and act without fail to remedy any potential weak areas.
At the moment, these stickers have only been spotted in South London, but this is an incarnation of an old criminal approach. Elsewhere, gangs may leave chalk marks on the pavement or garden wall. In September, Greater Manchester police warned that there had been a rise in marking of property, which was being nicknamed the Da Pinci Code! A cross on the outside of the property was thought to mean a good target, a flower symbol indicated wealth, and a book showed the homeowner was a vulnerable woman.
At this time of year with the darker evenings, burglaries traditionally rise – particularly between 3:00pm and 7:00pm. So if your home is unoccupied at this time, it is worth considering whether your home is going to keep out unwanted intruders.
For those times when your defences are breeched, your insurance policy should kick-in and help you secure your premises and replace damaged and stolen items. It is at times such as this that it is vital to have the services of a first class insurance broker to help you through the trauma. At Westhill Insurance Services we have a team of dedicated, professional and friendly staff who will help you with advice and guidance, making sure you have the right policy at a price you can afford.