Oct 4 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
MAKING your home look occupied when you are out can help stop you becoming a victim of burglary as the nights draw in.
That is the core message of the Autumn Nights campaign just launched by Harrow Police.
It encourages families to ensure their home does not become a target for thieves during the darker evenings, as criminals, often from another part of London, go on the prowl.
Borough commander Chief Superintendent Dal Babu said: “We have an 11 per cent reduction in the number of burglaries, year on year, and we are trying to make sure people are aware of what then need to be doing to make their homes safe.
“It’s about making sure their homes look occupied. it’s very unusual for someone to break into a home when somebody is inside.”
Mr Babu said there are a few simple steps people can take to put off thieves:
n Invest in good locks for doors.
n Make sure uPVC doors are double-locked.
n Use a timer switch to turn a light on and off while you are out.
n Switch the radio on when you go out.
n Do not leave valuables on show in windows or in cars.
More than half of burglaries in Harrow – 52 per cent – are not actual break-ins, because the offenders entered through open doors or windows.
There were 788 burglaries and attempted burglaries between April and September 2011 and 769 in the same period this year, with Roxbourne, Roxeth and Rayners Lane, and Edgware, Queensbury and Belmont, being the hotspots.
One of the specific Autumn Nights activities is urging year seven children in the borough’s secondary schools to survey how safe and secure their family home is, while officers are attending synagogues, churches, mosques and temples across Harrow, often at festival time, to spread the advice.
Chief Inspector Russell Hughes, responsible for safer neighbours and partnerships, said more analytical work was also being done to study crime patterns to estimate where offences are more likely to occur, and why particular properties were targeted over others.
He said: “Too many times we have gone to neighbours of burglary victims and they have said ‘Oh, I did hear something but didn’t report it’. That is why it is so important we change people’s psyche to become more crime prevention aware.”