Dear Neighbour, I am the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator for three roads in the Brislington area, covering 121 homes, a NHW coordinator since 1998 covering two areas, Brislington and the other in the countryside. I hate seeing hard working people upset because they are a victim of crime and in most cases could have been easily and cheaply avoided, and usually the crime committed by not so hard working person. This advice is to give a brief summary of the popular crimes Brislington people fall victim to and brief details of the main risks. This is not meant to be comprehensive as the following websites cover that already, you can click on these links and they will take you to the websites:
National Neighbourhood Watch website: OurWatch.org.uk
Avon and Somerset Police website: AvonAndSomerset.police.uk
National Police website: police.uk
This advice applies to Greater Brislington and most of Bristol. For most people security is boring and something one would rather not have to think about. I used to think the same before I moved to Bristol, sadly as with most major UK cities you can’t ignore it because if you do you will eventually become a victim. The good news if you know the things criminals target usually with a few minor changes you can protect yourself, and most within £100 or so, the only exception van security.
This was last updated February 2022:
- 1) STREET SCANNERS, in Bristol we regularly have individuals working separately systematically scan Bristol streets including ours looking for easy high value things to steal and sell on. For instance builders electric tools, bicycles, motorbikes, money, tablets, jewellery, garden electric tools, laptops. Usually one of these street scanners will visit your street once a month, their favourite times 22:30 to 04:00 but consider anytime after dark is when the risk significantly increases. For risk mitigation after dark you should ensure nothing left with value on display in your vehicles including clothing with pockets, generally thieves will not break-in unless they think there could be something of value. Ensure your vehicles are locked. Check garage doors are secure and some may need extra security, even new doors can ‘pop open’ easily with a little pulling sided to side. Side gates are locked, front and back doors locked, car keys hidden out of sight from letter box or windows. These same individuals will also try and break into garden sheds so things like trellis are good to stop them climbing over fences and walls as it will make noise and thieves don’t like noise and lots of light. Finally from the public road look at your house, car, etc. and think if you were a street scanner what do you see you could steal and could be sold for £20 or more.
- 2) VANS, thieves are mainly looking for power tools to steal and sell on for quick cash, and some are quite happy to steal from big supermarket car parks in daylight as some vans are ridiculously easy to break in to, yes I mean ridiculously easily (a second time). When buying your next van for use in the Bristol area then ‘dead locks’ is a must, it seems to deter most Bristol thieves breaking in to cargo area, but not all, they want the whole theft done in a couple of minutes and little noise, an alarm is also great to have but increases the costs, a much cheaper option if possible remove any signage to suggest your van contains power tools or items of value for instance ‘flower delivery’ van is little interest. You need to risk assess the areas where you leave your van when working daytime and a second assessment for overnight parking. For more van security advice:
- 3) MOTORBIKES/SCOOTERS, most standard OEM steering locks are useless and never consider leaving motorbike with just steering lock as your only security in Bristol, even just stopping at cash point machine or picking up a take-away. Thieves hate motorbikes that have multi-layered security. As a minimum for Bristol you should have an alarm and immobiliser fitted, this will cover the cash point and take-away, and when leaving longer then a physical security device like a disc lock (£40 or more) or chain and lock (£100 or more) or U-lock (£40 or more). If motorcycle under 600cc then secure to something solid or another motorbike or park another vehicle like a car to block it in. Motorcycle covers also help deter some thieves. For more motorbike security advice:
- 4) BICYCLES, Bristol is really terrible for bicycle theft, really, really bad, the best thing is to try and keep out of public access when not in use. Multi-layered security is a must so chain and padlock, electronic security like alarm and/or tracker, and security marking of parts. Avoid using a cable lock and never use combination locks for overnight security as they are easy to defeat. Don’t assume locked shared bicycle sheds are safe, always properly secure your bike. Most of us use the soldsecure.com as a great guide on quality locks. Further advice click here.
- 5) GARDEN SHEDS, in Bristol we have a lot of garden sheds broken into, the main issue people keeping fairly high value items like bicycles, mopeds, electric tools, in their garden shed with small weak locks and tiny locking bolts. If keeping valuable items in garden shed then use quality locks that can resist bolt cutters or crowbar, if not possible then add a chime that sounds in the house or alarm. Always better to have multi-layered security (multiple protections) so in addition to a physical device like a door lock add an alarm or chime that chimes in the house when someone goes in the shed or garage, they start from £20 on internet search “remote chime alarm”. If shed is well away from houses where a thief could work unheard then best not to store valuable items, unless you have an alarm that rings in your house. For more shed advice:
- 6) PHISHING AND INTERNET CRIME, far too many people falling victim to internet scams, the main give away is they ask you for your bank details, or panicking you in to taking action urgently, so this could be an email pretending to be from somewhere official, you have won some money for a competition you have not entered. If asked for your bank details think are you really sure these people are who they say they are, are they really the bank or police, probably not. Also when making purchases on the internet consider is there a genuine company behind the website, some websites are fake and want to get your credit card details, for instance a genuine shopping website will have a land address which can easily be checked on Google Maps, and also see the Google reviews, other review sites: TrustPilot, Reevoo. Remember if address is abroad your rights may not be as well protected as in the UK because of the different laws. For more information click here.
OTHER CRIME PREVENTION INFORMATION
A & S Police running fraud prevention sessions: Mar, Apr, May, Jun 2022.
- NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH Neighbourhood Watch Coordinators are none paid volunteers like myself who act as a local liason for the police and their neighbours. My main goals are: 1)try and stop my neighbours becoming victims of crime by prevention and education, 2) let neighbours know what to do if they see suspicious activity, or become a victim, or other community matters, 3) make the area a more desiable place to live.
If you are an existing Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator please log your group on the OurWatch website, it is a little confusing but you need to create a login account first and then create the scheme, it will take a few days, click here to setup OurWatch account
If you are interested in becoming a Neighbourhood Coordinator then follow this link: Avon and Somerset Neighbourhood Watch Team
What is involved in becoming a Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator? In fact you can do very little to be a NHW Coordinator but if you do have more time that would be great and it mainly focuses on crime prevention by doing things like posting leaflets through doors, talking to neighbours when out and about, to let them know where they can find prevention information and other help. Coordinators are purely focused on crime prevention, and making our roads a better place to live. Catching criminals is the police’s job. The Neighbourhood Watch Groups are probably best described as overseen by a national team called OurWatch on the website www.ourwatch.org.uk appointed by the government Home Office.
- ON DISCOVERING A CRIME IN PROGRESS Lets say for example you saw burglars were inside your garden shed, the temptation is to shout at them but usually nine times out of ten this is not the best practice because they could start to threaten you or your family. The Police really want to catch these people, and you can help by giving them a head start by one person calling 999 making sure the bright phone screen cannot be seen by burglars, and tell the police a burglary is taking place now. The police call handler can advise from there. Another person covertly watches the burglars taking notes on what they have touched and items discarded, which could be used later in prosecuting them. This strategy has a far greater chance of catching the burglars, a better chance of prosecuting the burglars, removes the risk of them returning another time, and less likely having a revenge attack on you and your family.
- Another approach if you are away from home in a vehicle travelling and think the situation looks a little odd then you might want to consider hooting your horn. For example I saw some CCTV of an incident at 23:45 three males wearing helmets and standing next to a van with doors open, clearly something doesn’t look right, but two cars at different times doing 20mph drove past and did nothing, and they could clearly see the three thieves wearing motorbike helmets. The next morning the van owner found his van broken in to. We can all help by being extra eyes for the police. Another situation we can help, someone pushing a moped but has no helmet, after 23:00, call 999 straight away or better still covertly follow to an address and then call the police on 999. Let the police decide if it needs investigating or not. We don’t want to make criminals feel welcome in our roads, we can all do our bit to help our very overstretched Avon and Somerset police.
- FINAL NOTE, by adding better security you not only help protect your possessions, it also helps our community as it means our police can focus on more serious crime rather than having to process incidents that could of been easily prevented. From my experience most victims tend to be new to living in Bristol so if you have a new neighbour move in please say hello and let them know about this local crime prevention advice, and in turn this will help keep your household insurance lower, make our area more desirable to live and in turn increases your house value, impress friends and family by living in a lovely desirable area, help keep council taxes lower, the benefits are many, and we can all help Other ways we can all help make our area a better place to live, and less desirable to criminals, by removing dumped rubbish, reporting graffiti to council along with broken street furniture. Again your friends and family will notice the difference of a well kept and cared for street.
Regards, Alex Padgett
You are welcome to contact me, please use this website and include “FAO Alex”: https://greaterbrislington.orgGBT on Social Media