Neighbourhood Watch Alert September

Since my last communication I am pleased to report that the level of crime locally has been low with reported incidents mainly non-dwelling. There are still areas, however, where the Police advise continuing vigilance:

Supermarket Distraction Scam

Police are investigating a series of incidents where shoppers have been duped in shopping centre car parks by people asking for directions and showing a map. One such incident at Tesco, River Way, was featured on local television news. Hampshire Constabulary have released CCTV footage of such a scam that shows how the offender distracts the shopper to allow an accomplice to enter the victim’s vehicle and steal from their handbag. The stolen cards are then used to withdraw money or buy high value items, often before the victim has even realised their personal property has been taken. The link to the CCTV footage is:

Police tips to keep your belongings safe when you are out shopping:

  • Never leave your bag on the trolley unattended and always ensure your bag is zipped up;
  • When putting shopping away in the boot always ensure your handbag/wallet is with you;
  • If you are distracted for even a moment whilst putting shopping away – keep handbags with you or lock them in the vehicle before speaking to / helping anyone;
  • If asked for directions or to look at maps – ensure you lock personal items in the vehicle first;
  • When filling up with fuel, lock your vehicle when re-fuelling and when you go to pay;
  • If you are approached by anyone suspicious, report it to the police as soon as possible.

Cold Calling

This covers both telephone and doorstep activities. I received a call from a Monxton resident a few days ago, they had been telephoned by someone apparently selling (of all things) nuisance call protection. The caller quoted the first four digits of the person’s credit card and asked them to confirm the remaining eight. Sensibly the person declined to do this, called me and I advised them to call 101 and report it. What they did not know is that the first four digits of any card number are unique to the issuer (e.g. Barclaycard Lloyds etc.) and card type (debit, credit, gold, platinum etc.) and are identical for all similar cards, so it does not take many guesses to come up with the right number.

Never give bank, card, or personal details over the phone or on line unless you are sure to whom you are talking – and this usually means that you have called them. Banks and Building Societies never ask you for such information.

The Police have also received information about phone canvassing informing residents of sales operatives calling in their vicinity giving advice on home security. The canvasser is allegedly indicating that the sales team are ‘approved’ by Police. There is no knowledge of any such approved campaign in our area.

Be on your guard against strangers. It is difficult to tell whether the person is genuine, a rogue trader offering repairs or improvements, or a bogus caller trying to get into your home.

You are under no obligation to allow anyone to enter your home and can refuse access. The Police advise you to say ‘No’ to all doorstep cold callers. You should never allow anyone access to your home without valid identification. Legitimate callers will not mind being challenged and will expect you to ask them for identification.

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