With over 5,000 homes burgled in London last year by thieves simply walking in through an unlocked door, police today are urging Londoners to lock their doors every time they leave the house.
“The number of burglaries in London is falling, but basic crime prevention measures can reduce it further. 5,199 burglaries occurred last year simply because of unlocked doors,” Metropolitan Police spokesman Alastair Campbell told East London Lines. He explained that burglary rates rise substantially in autumn every year, with thieves taking advantage of the darker afternoons and evenings. For example, in June, July and August last year, there were about 4,900 burglaries a month in London; by November the figure had risen to 5,600.
Today’s ‘Lock before you leave’ campaign is aimed at reminding London’s homeowners about locking their doors with a series of breakfast radio ads, digital displays at key underground connections, direct mail shots to people’s homes and a special awareness campaign aimed at new university students who may be living away from home for the first time.
As Superintendent Martin Rusling, head of the Met’s anti-burglary task force Operation Bumblebee stresses, “Burglary, on the whole, is an opportunist crime and a burglar will look for an easy way to get in that won’t take long or arouse suspicion, so many try the front door first…It’s easy to leave your front door unlocked, especially when you’re in a hurry or distracted. But even if you only do it once, that could be enough to get burgled.”
Alongside the awareness campaign, the Met say they also recognise the need to target known or suspected burglars and that Operation Bumblebee is continuing to investigate and pursue suspects and bring them before the courts. Officers have also been going out to communities to offer crime prevention advice, including awareness roadshows. As well as remembering to lock all doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes, the campaign is reminding householders to:
• make sure side and/or back gates are locked
• lock sheds and garages
• make sure that any valuables are out of sight
• leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home
• not leave car keys or ID documents near doors, windows or your letterbox
Residential burglary rates are down 9% on last year for London as a whole. While they have remained virtually static for Lewisham (2,051 in 2010/2,059 in 2009) and Tower Hamlets (1,005 in 2010/995 in 2009), Hackney and Croydon have seen significant reductions in burglary rates over the last year, by 12.3% and 9.1% respectively.