The Met is reminding Londoners to be extra vigilant during the Christmas period to stop burglars ruining their festive fun.
A retired couple who were burgled earlier this month have said, if only they had double locked their door, their terrifying experience may have been prevented.
The couple, who do not wish to be identified, were targeted at their home in Barnehurst, Bexley by thieves, whilst they were asleep on Tuesday, 4 December.
At about 03.30hrs, the female victim was woken by a noise coming from downstairs. She looked out of the bedroom window and saw their blue Audi Q3 being driven away. The couple later realised their front door had been forced open with a tool.
Other items that were near the front door were also stolen; these included the electronic key for the Audi, a camera, a laptop, bankcards and a quantity of cash.
The 73-year-old male victim of the burglary, said: "My wife had to endure the longest four minutes of her life after she heard an intruder raid our family home. He quickly gained access to our home and walked straight into the kitchen where he found our car keys. On the way out he helped himself to anything else he could carry, including my wallet, my camera and our laptop. He then drove away in our car.
“Not wanting to be heard, my wife was frozen to the spot upstairs. When she saw him leave she dialled 999 and four police cars were on scene within a couple of minutes. We also had a Crime Scene Examiner arrive later that morning. We have received so much support from our neighbours and Neighbourhood Watch who we alerted as soon as possible. We would like to say a huge thank you to them all.
“This incident has clearly upset my wife who feels that her home has been violated.
“At what should be an exciting time of the year where we should be preparing for our grandson’s first Christmas, we are instead having to deal with having no car and no bank cards and making numerous other enquiries to get our life back on track. It’s been a nightmare and all because I didn’t double lock our front door before I went to bed. Having lived here for years, I didn’t think we needed to. I’m now looking over my shoulder every time I leave the house. ”
Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews, the Met’s burglary lead, said: “One of the most important things you can do is to fully close and lock windows and doors when you go out. Many burglars are opportunists, so don’t allow them an opportunity to enter your property. Don’t allow anyone you don’t know into your home and thoroughly check credentials of those claiming to be genuine officials. If in doubt close and lock your door. Inform the police if you believe someone isn’t genuine and is trying access your home.
“The following basic advice will help make it more difficult for those who want to enter your home and steal your possessions. Finally don’t be afraid to ask for crime prevention advice from your local police teams or your local authority.”
Keep your home safe by considering three areas of burglary protection: Remember the 3 Step Protect advice - Building, Valuables, Outside.
1. Safeguard your building
- A significant number of burglaries could be avoided by always locking windows and double locking doors when you leave your premises regardless of the length of time you are likely to be out and keeping external doors locked when you are in your home to prevent “Walk in” burglaries.
- Make your home look occupied: use timer lights when the nights get longer, and cancel deliveries if you are going away.
- Don’t make a burglars life easy: Keep tools and ladders secured, minimising the opportunity for a burglar or opportunist thief to use them in accessing your property. Fit British standard locks, Join a local neighbourhood/street watch or similar scheme.
2. Protect your valuables
Don’t advertise your goods online. Always keep valuables such as tablets and laptops out of sight from windows and store keys away from the letterbox. Similarly don’t leave empty boxes outside that may advertise the goods that you have purchased.
- Help police identify your property if stolen by using a property marking kit and taking photos. The Met is currently providing SmartWater kits as part of the MetTrace operation visit. www.met.police.uk/mettrace for more information.
- Consider buying a safe or using other safe storage providers.
3. Secure the outside of your house/building
- Keep gates, sheds and garages locked
- Keep hedges at the front low and install outdoor lighting, so burglars have nowhere to hide.
- Install trellises and spiky plants to stop burglars from climbing over fences.
Officers have released an image of the stolen car in relation to the crime mentioned above. No arrests have been made and enquiries continue.
Anyone with information about the crime mentioned above is asked to contact Police Constable Steve Batley, based at Bexleyheath Police Station, on 101. If you do not want to give your name you contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
To find out more on how to protect yourself and your property visit: www.met.police.uk/crime-prevention