St Albans residents warned to be crime cautious over Christmas period

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Residents warned to be crime cautious over Christmas period Residents warned to be crime cautious over Christmas period

The city’s Chief Inspector has warned St Albans residents not to leave presents on display in the lead up to Christmas.

In a festive message wishing people a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year CI Ken Towsend said “sadly, while Christmas is traditionally a time of giving, there are a few whose only interest is in taking.”

CI Townsend is responsible for the city’s policing by reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

In the weeks leading up to the festive period he said police will be conducting extra proactive patrols in areas which traditionally see a rise in crime at this time of year, including shopping centres, to prevent thefts, and in residential areas, to prevent burglaries.

He said: “I’d like to wish our communities a very Merry Christmas on behalf of all the policing teams across the St Albans district who are working hard to ensure our residents have a safe and crime free Christmas.

“I spent a couple of hours in a burglary hotspot with one of my policing teams on foot patrol on Monday and I was shocked to see so many houses in darkness – making them an open invitation to an opportunist burglar.

“Side-gates were also left unlocked. Mid to late afternoon is an ideal time for burglars now that it is dark and often residents are still at work.

“Residents can help protect themselves from burglary by fitting timer switches to give their home the lived-in look. This simple action could make the difference between residents having a fun - or a miserable - Christmas.”

CI Townsend went on to warn residents to be aware while doing their Christmas shopping and using cash points.

He said: “Whilst we’re working to tackle crime, we’d ask people to take steps to help themselves. During the busy Christmas shopping season, shoppers need to be aware of purse dippers (pickpockets) and keep their purses, wallets and mobiles phones, safely tucked away and out of reach of opportunist thieves.

“Also be careful around cash points and watch for ‘shoulder surfers’ who try to read pin numbers.”

Police are also urging people not to leave presents on display in their cars “as this can be a gift to a criminal who can break into the vehicles and remove property in seconds.”

CI Townsend said: “Burglary remains low across the St Albans district. This year to date, St Albans has seen a 25 per cent reduction in residential burglaries. We are working hard to keep it that way through proactive patrols, at a time when burglaries tend to increase.

“We are doing our bit by increasing police patrols, we expect residents to play their part to help keep St Albans a safe city and remember Christmas for all the right reasons.”

Presents such as iPads, mobile phones and games consoles are a draw for burglars, who may enter a property if they think no one is in. Residents are advised to leave a light on inside the property, using a timer switch so it comes on when it gets dark.

CI Townsend added: “And after the Christmas presents have been given out, please don’t leave empty packaging outside your property as it lets a burglar know what is inside.”

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