With dark nights upon us, rural areas can provide rich pickings for criminals – so the CLA is issuing some top tips to help protect homes and property.
CLA South East represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.
Regional Director Michael Valenzia said: “We might be approaching the season of goodwill, but criminals will think nothing of taking advantage of this time of year.
“Under reporting makes rural crime figures look less of a problem and this reduces the likelihood of police resources being focused on the issue, so we would urge any victims to report incidents, including any suspicious activity, to the police.
“This will also help inform their intelligence picture for longer-term police action.”
Here are some of our tips:
Homes: Do not leave any keys in sight of doors and windows (which should be locked). It is not uncommon for thieves to ‘fish’ for keys through letter boxes or small open windows.
Oil theft: Basic security measures such as making the tank difficult to access, well-lit and locked can discourage the potential thief.
Online fraud: Watch out for fraudsters telephoning and posing as your bank or another trusted organisation. The message is clear: never give personal or bank details over the phone even if you think it is genuine.
Poaching and wildlife crime: At this time of year, food rises to the top of everyone’s wish list and poachers are no exception, so make sure it is difficult for them to access your land. As well as the damage caused to property and wildlife, any meat or fish sold on could be unfit for human consumption. So be sure that you know where your food comes from. Do not challenge poachers yourself but call the police via 999.
Business burglary: Criminals know many businesses close over the holidays, so double check all doors and windows are locked, set alarms and make sure security lights are working.
Fly-tipping: Over the festive season all that Christmas wrapping, trees and old white goods and electrical items need to be disposed of, but unfortunately some people do not wish to pay or simply cannot be bothered to dispose of such waste responsibly. Fly-tipping can also be on an industrial scale and contain dangerous and hazardous items, so please report any incidents to the police if in progress or your local authority.
Use of technology: Consider how you might use technology to deter or capture criminal activity. If the police run WhatsApp groups, join them, both to inform each other and the police. Also try to get to know your rural crime police unit.
If you see anything suspicious, or are a victim of crime it is vital you report it by calling police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.