I have to report that the following crime occurred in or near to your area. Can you please circulate the details of the crime to the members of your Watch /Anyone if you think it will be of value.
Any suspicious incidents should be reported to the police on 101 quoting the Crime reference number as appropriate.
- Ensure your vehicle is always locked. Lock the back doors while driving.
- If your vehicle doesn’t have an alarm, get one fitted. Insurance companies will often give a discount for properly installed and approved alarms.
- Never leave personal documents in the vehicle’s cab.
- Never leave tools or equipment in your vehicle overnight.
- Keep your van keys safe while you are working. Never leave them in your vehicle.
- ‘High clearance’ vehicles are common targets for catalytic converter theft. Mark yours to deter thieves.
- Security mark all your tools and equipment to make items uniquely identifiable
- Don’t buy cheap, second hand tools from a building site – they may be stolen. If you are suspicious – tell the police.
- Keep stops for fuel, food and other goods to a minimum. The fewer stops you need to make (leaving your vehicle unattended) the more secure it will be.
- Make sure you have fully comprehensive insurance for your vehicle. Thieves will often ‘smash and grab’ causing damage that is expensive to repair and may take you off the road for several days.
A third man has been sentenced in connection with 35 incidents – including one in Leatherhead – where elderly people were accosted in the street, followed home and demanded money for work which had never been completed on their homes.
Jesse Webb, 19, of The Paddocks, Lyne Road, Virginia Water, worked alongside his brother and father, travelling far and wide, looking for older people to target.
They would stop the victims, usually close to their homes, claim they had completed roofing work on their property and had returned to collect payment for the work. Often their victims, some of whom suffered from memory impairment through dementia or Alzheimer’s, would believe them. In some cases the victim would give them cash from their home or, if they didn’t have cash, the gang would drive the victim to their bank and get them to withdraw large sums of money.
Upon entering the victim’s house, they would also commit a distraction burglary, distracting the victim whilst the other searched the house for more cash.
The complex investigation was led by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s specialist investigation team, Operation Manhunt, a unit set up to investigate distraction burglary, frauds and other crimes against the elderly.