Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Barnet BoroughWatch Newsletter Summer 2010

Welcome to the summer edition. First a few tips on safer driving and security.
  • Car crime is very common. Car security devices are available at all price ranges.
  • Contact several suppliers for advice before you purchase.
  • DO NOT leave valuables in a car when it is parked.
  • Make sure that your car is kept in good running order.
  • Do not put yourself at risk by running out of oil, petrol or water.
  • Take the time to learn the basics of car maintenance and have you car serviced by a reputable garage.
  • Consider joining a breakdown organisation as added security.
Keeping in Contact
  • If you feel vulnerable travelling alone it is worth considering purchasing a mobile phone.
  • Ensure the mobile is fully charged before setting off on long journeys.
  • Always let someone know where you are going.
  • Plan your route and take a map to avoid asking strangers for directions.
  • Take enough money with you for emergency phone calls and consider a phone card.
  • Take the details of your breakdown organisation and membership number.
Avoiding Assault
  • Keep doors locked and keep handbags out of view.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Avoid eye contact with aggressive or suspicious drivers.
  • If you are forced to stop, keep your engine running and enough room around you to turn around.
  • If a driver gets out and approaches you, flash your lights and sound your horn.
  • If you have an alarm, set it off.
On the Motorway
  • Call for help on an emergency phone (or mobile if you already have a contact who can assist you).
  • If you are a woman alone make sure you inform the contact of this fact.
  • Return to the car, but stay on the verge/bank. Lock all doors except the passenger door nearest to you.
  • Get back in and lock the door if someone pulls up. Remember that you should only stop on the hard shoulder in an emergency.
  • If you are lost it is safer to make your way to the nearest service station, roadside restaurant or town and establish your bearings there.
  • Do not accept help from passers by. If someone approaches get into the car, lock the doors and speak through a slightly open window.
How NOT to Appeal to a Pickpocket or Purse Snatcher
Pickpockets choose their targets carefully. They avoid people who look confident and aware of their surroundings and hone in on those who seem more oblivious, lost or distracted in some way.
As Arno said, "They [pickpockets] have no respect because they feel they recognize you before you recognize them."
To reduce the odds that a pickpocket or purse snatcher will target you, the first and most important rule is to be aware of your surroundings. Then:
  • Watch out for potential "set-ups," such as someone bumping into you or asking a question as a distraction while someone else steals your wallet.
  • Appear confident and look like you know where you're going. People who are targeted for street crimes look like victims.
  • Dress down. Don't flaunt jewellery or designer labels that let a pickpocket know you're likely to have money or valuables close at hand.
  • Listen to your instincts. If something feels strange, go inside a shop, cross the street or seek help.
Carrying Your Valuables Safely
Aside from how you look and act, the way you hold your purse or wallet can also be a deciding factor on whether or not you're preyed upon. Most thieves will go for the easiest target, which means that if your purse is left unattended in a shopping basket or your wallet is sticking out of your pocket, you're more at risk.
  • Keep your purse in sight at all times. Do not hang it on the back of a chair, the hook on a public loo door, or leave it unattended while shopping or trying on shoes.
  • Use a wallet that can attach to your belt (also known as a money belt) and keep it out of sight.
  • Always keep purses closed and carry them close to the front of your body, or held tightly under your arm. If your purse is slung over your head, consider wearing it under your coat (this makes it harder for a thief to pull on the strap).
You can also protect yourself in advance. In the event your purse or wallet is stolen, the impact will be less severe if you:
  • Don't carry all your cash in one place.
  • Carry only a small amount of cash.
  • Carry only what's necessary, and nothing more.
  • Keep house keys in your pocket, rather than your purse. If a thief steals your purse and house keys, they have your address and access to your home.
  • Leave irreplaceable items (photos, important papers, sentimental trinkets) at home.
What To Do If Your Purse Or Wallet Is Stolen
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you can't stop a pickpocket. The first thing to remember is that your purse or wallet is not worth getting hurt over. If someone tries to take your belongings, resist the urge to fight back. While some thieves will back down at the sign of confrontation, others are willing to fight and may be carrying a weapon.
Your safety is what's most important, and while your purse/wallet can be replaced, your life cannot. Here's what to do immediately after your purse or wallet is stolen:
  • Don't panic - try to think clearly.
  • Call the local police right away.
  • Make a list of everything in your purse or wallet, including credit cards, cheques, ID cards, cash and other items.
  • Call your credit card companies and report your cards as stolen.
  • Call your bank and tell them your bank cards/cheques have been stolen.
  • If your driving licence was stolen, contact DVLA to get a new one.
  • Monitor your bills for unusual activity, and report anything strange to the bank or police.
Keep in mind, too, that purses and wallets are not the only things that get stolen. With all of the new high-tech gadgets out there, thieves have a whole new world of possibilities. In fact, iPods and mobile are just as popular to thieves.
"iPods have made bus stops a choice location for purse snatching," said one police source. Luggage, leather jackets, gold chains and expensive trainers are also tempting to thieves.
Finally, 50% of all recent burglaries in Barnet have one thing in common: Open doors and windows. Don’t make it easy for them.
Have a good Summer,
Paul Hammond
Barnet BoroughWatch
0208 359 2168

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