Wednesday, December 23, 2009


WEST MIDLANDS POLICE has stepped up action to tackle thieves who are taking advantage of rising scrap metal prices across the region.
The Black Country has seen a particular rise in the number of metal thefts over the past few weeks, with numbers being stolen from doors, items being taken from cemeteries and skips being taken from industrial sites.
Inspector Dale Randle from Sandwell command unit said: "We have recently conducted some research around metal related thefts, which confirmed that there has been an increase in burglary offences where metal has been stolen.
"We have particularly seen a big increase in offences away from the home, such as on industrial estates and substations, where copper in particular has been targeted.
"With rising scrap prices again being offered we are concerned that the number of these offences will continue to increase, as it did two years ago, and so we are stepping up our efforts to tackle this type of crime."
Operation Steel was originally launched across the Black Country back in 2007 following a significant rise in metal thefts from homes and businesses in the area. The operation enjoyed significant success, with over 900 people arrested over the course of a year.
Statistics that year showed a gradual decline in the number of theft and burglary offences relating to stolen metal, partly attributed to such proactive policing tactics and also due to the decline in prices offered for scrap metal. Gradually, the tactics used during Operation Steel became part of everyday neighbourhood policing for the force.
Insp Randle added: "We have continued to do some good work around metal theft over the past year, but unfortunately the offence seems to be on the up again and so we are responding accordingly.
"We will be revisiting all scrap yards in the area to ensure they are working within the law and not accepting stolen goods, as well as conducting stop checks on vehicles we believe may be involved in suspicious or criminal behaviour.
"We have always taken a robust stance against this kind of crime and saw hundreds of arrests, with many of those brought before the courts.
"Our position has not changed since last time – if you are caught offending, then you will be prosecuted."
West Midlands Police issued the following tips to prevent metal theft:
1. Conduct a 'recce' of your premises – especially the external areas and the fabric of the building. What metal items do you possess or are part of the building? How easy would it be for a thief to steal them? Lead flashing and copper piping are especially attractive to thieves.
2. Lock garages, sheds, gates and doors – 'good housekeeping issues'. Consider ground anchors to secure large metal items inside such sheds.
3. Remove or padlock and chain any ladders, beer kegs, wheelbarrows, shopping trolleys, wheelie bins, etc. Wheelie bins are increasingly being used to transport stolen metal.
4. Remove easy means of access onto building roofs, such as water butts, wheelie bins and any other such object near to the building.
5. Prune back or remove entirely overhanging shrubs that could act as a climbing aid or provide a screen to hide criminal activity.
6. Use anti-vandal paint above two metres (6'6") high – together with a warning notice(s) highlighting its use. Such paint can be used on drain pipes, roof guttering, etc. to 'target harden' your property.
7. Property mark and photograph metal items (including unusual and high value metal items such as statues, garden urns, seats and fountains), in order to aid identification if they are stolen.
8. Establish good house-keeping rules to challenge those attempting to impersonate authorised persons gaining access.
9. Consider installing a 'bells only' intruder alarm, or upgrading to a central station monitoring system to warn off intruders.
10. Businesses could consider installing a CCTV system with a minimum seven day, real time recording facility.
11. Ensure that your security lighting works, especially during long winter nights.
12. Report suspicious behaviour to the police. In an emergency or when you see the crime is actually taking place, dial 999 and quote 'Operation Steel'. In all other situations telephone 0845 113 5000 and ask for your local police station. If you have information about any crime, please phone CRIMESTOPPERS 0800 555 111.

(Reproduced from West Midlands Police web site Dec 22nd 2009)

GARDIEN TIP: Security products to help you protect your premises and possessions can be found at

'Get sheducated', Hertfordshire Police warn

HOMEOWNERS are at risk of having their homes burgled using their own garden tools, police have warned.
Hertfordshire Constabulary warned people to get "sheducated" about the risks of keeping garden tools in unsecured sheds.
Sheds are an easy target for burglars, and police have seen a rise in burglaries taking place using victims' tools.
In the past, criminals have used a trowel, garden fork, shears and a shovel to break into houses.
Crime reduction officer Gary Sibson said: “Burglars generally don’t like to carry tools with them that they could use to break into someone’s home in case they get stopped by police.
"They will target places that make it easy for them – often choosing the homes that have been left insecure, with doors unlocked or windows left open, but also, as our crime reports are showing, where the householder has given them a helping hand by leaving something in the garden that they can use to gain entry."

(Reproduced from 22nd December)

GARDIEN TIP: Don't leave tools outside but if they are in your shed, read the advice at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Defensive planting - the natural way to prevent burglary

The ever-increasing popularity and sophistication of gardening has not gone unnoticed by the criminal. Garden crime is a reality. According to police statistics, the most likely items to be stolen are mowers, strimmers, chain saws, hedge trimmers, garden furniture and plants.
Nature herself provides one of the best solutions to many garden crimes. With careful thought and planning you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of garden crime, whilst at the same time creating an attractive garden. Take a moment to read the information below, and take note of the carefully selected plants. For instance you can create an impenetrable hedge, which looks far more attractive than security fencing but is just as effective. Planting prickly shrubs around vulnerable windows can also serve as a deterrent to the burglar. By careful planning you can produce a beautiful garden and reduce the risk of being the next victim of garden crime.
Top Ten Tips
1. Sheds and Outbuildings usually contain valuable items that might either be stolen or used as a tool to gain entry to the house. Check how vulnerable your shed is and make it more secure. Metal grills over the windows, reinforced hinges and locks are a worthwhile investment. Consider securing valuable items inside using security cables or chains with robust padlocks. Thieves do not like to hang about - the more obstacles you put in the way, the less likely they will be to bother.
2. Garden Equipment marked indelibly and boldly with the post code or by using a DNA type liquid property marking system with the signs displayed stating its usage will be less of a target for a thief. It will identify it to the owner and the thief will have to spend time trying to remove the marking. Don’t make the mistake that many gardeners make, leaving equipment out whilst popping in the house for a cup of tea, only to return to find your mower gone, and a half cut lawn! You may only be gone for a minute, but your mower will have gone forever.
3. Good lighting around the property will enhance your garden, extend its use into the evening, and be a major deterrent to the thief. The best type to install is low level lighting on a dusk to dawn sensor which will give good illumination, is cheap to run and is on all night. Security lighting operated on movement detectors can increase the fear of crime. This comes on and off during high winds, when trees sway or when animals walk past. It can also be annoying to your neighbours.
4. Plants and trees can be very attractive to the thief, and difficult to secure. If you are using plant pots, buy the heaviest you can. Pots can be secured to the ground using a variety of methods from strong glues to bolts through the patio. Expensive plants can be secured in the ground using wire and pegs around the root ball. These are hidden from view when planting is completed, but make the plant very difficult to remove. Expensive plants should be planted where they can be seen from the house or by neighbours.
5. Thieves don’t like to be heard. Crunchy gravel on the approach to the house which gives away their presence is ideal.
6. A water feature not only looks great in the garden but a pond can also form a barrier to prevent a thief from getting to a vulnerable shed or house window.
7. Front Garden. The general rule for the front of the house is to keep boundary fences and hedges low to allow as much natural surveillance as possible from neighbours and passing pedestrians and traffic. Keep shrubs and trees well pruned to avoid any hiding places.
8. The rear garden should have a secure boundary and gates which should be of sufficient height to make scaling them difficult. A thief hates to be cornered and will always be looking for escape routes. The traditional country hedge provides an attractive and impenetrable boundary. Prickly shrubs planted along an existing fence are effective and attractive but may take a long time to grow and thicken up.
9. Patio furniture, hammocks and parasols are stolen from gardens every year. Take time to mark the items with the post code as boldly as possible or use a DNA type liquid property marking system with the signs displayed stating its usage thereby making them less attractive to the thief. Tables and benches can be secured to the patio using bolts. Any items that can be put away easily should be stored in a secure shed or garage (but leave room for the car!). Planters, statues, staddle stones and garden ornaments are very valuable and often the target of thieves. Photographs of the items will help the police identify them if they are stolen. Securing them to a concrete base using metal pins is effective.
10. Defensive Planting. Nature’s own way to reduce crime. Criminals do not like climbing through prickly plants and hedges. They know that a small item of ripped clothing or blood can help the police identify them.

(Reproduced from Dec 19th)

GARDIEN Tip: All the above is sound basic advice. For more information and products to prevent problems see

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tewkesbury family's woe at bikes theft

The mother of an autistic boy is calling for justice after thieves stole his precious bicycle.
Brwyn Sweet, nine, who also has learning difficulties, loves anything with wheels, such as vacuum cleaners and bikes.
So when his parents bought him a new BMX-style bike for his birthday a month ago, he was thrilled.
It was just like a new stunt bike they bought a few months before for his 13-year-old brother Dominic.
But now both bikes have been stolen from the front garden of their home in Wenlock Road, Prior's Park, Tewkesbury.
Mum Nikki said: "I think it's disgusting. Brwyn was amazed someone would do that.
"He loved his bike because he's obsessed with wheels. I don't think it's really hit him yet that's it been stolen."
The family are appealing to anyone with information that might help them recover the children's bikes to contact the police.
She said the value of the two bikes is nearly £500 and the family can't afford to replace them.
Nikki's husband Brett is an undertaker in the town, but she has recently given up her job as a florist to spend more time with her children.
Nikki said Brwyn needs close attention. The family hope to have him transferred from Tewkesbury's John Moore Primary School to the town's Alderman Knight School, which caters for children with special needs.
She said: "He has the brain of a five-year-old and yet he's very clever with his hands.
"Everything has to be perfect and he spends ages on his writing.
"The garden is enclosed but someone had the nerve to come in. It's almost like we've been watched."
The thieves stole the bikes between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Anyone with any information should call Gloucestershire police on 0845 090 1234

(Reproduced from 16th December)

GARDIEN Tip: See our article on Bike Security at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As a result of an investigation into Tack thefts, Sussex Police have recovered a substantial amount of equestrian equipment, garden furniture and garden ornaments from a location near to the Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire borders. Police are now seeking assistance from the public, in particular victims of crime, who may be able to identify these items.
Click here to view this property. If you believe that any of these items are yours, please contact Sussex Police, DC Scullion on 0845 6070999 ex 80266

(Reproduced from BumbleBee Auctions, 15th Dec 2009)

GARDIEN TIP: Use property marking to help the Police return goods to their rightful owners. See