With over 12,000 powered and non-powered tools stolen so far this year, the Metropolitan Police Service is raising awareness around the importance of home and business security.
Tools can be extremely valuable possessions and when stolen, can greatly impact on both businesses and residents alike.
Police regularly recover stolen tools, however identifying their owners is a huge problem.
Thames Valley Police recently highlighted this problem following the recovery of over 2,000 power tools. The Met’s MetTrace project team linked up with them in an attempt to trace some of the owners. Unfortunately, none of the tools had been security marked by either SmartWater, a forensic property-marking product, or other products. Had they been so, the process of identifying the owners would have been quick and simple.
Thames Valley Police did however manage to identify some owners through months of hard work by checking serial numbers and crime reports.
Detective Sergeant Shay Harper of Thames Valley Police, said: “Unfortunately only around 12 per cent of the stolen tools had any identifiable marks or security tags on them. A small number of the remaining 88 per cent had distinctive marks; scratches or memorable words written on them, but most were not registered making it incredibly difficult to ascertain who they belonged to. If we are unable to prove beyond all reasonable doubt who the true owner of a stolen item is, then we will not be able to return it.
“I urge anyone who owns tools, regardless of whether they are kept in a van, garage or shed, to mark them and make a note of the serial numbers. This could just be taking a photo of them or, preferably, registering them on a national database, as this will help us to prove ownership when we make seizures of stolen items.”
Inspector Matt Turner, from the Met’s Prevention and Partnership team, said: “This is a great example of officers recovering stolen property and working hard to identify ownership. We will do all we can to ensure this happens, but need the public to mark and register their property to make this possible. Whether you are a tradesperson or DIY enthusiast, please record and register the serial numbers of your tools, and mark the tools and boxes so they can be easily identified. Use a combination of visible marks e.g. fluorescent paint, stickers, permanent marker, along with a forensic property marking solution.”
Owners are being urged to follow these simple steps to prevent them becoming a victim:
- Consider buying a shed alarm. These are usually quite cheap but still effective.
- Add an extra layer of protection to shed windows with laminate sheets of film or internal metal grills.
- Always lock/immobilise vehicles. Do not assume your vehicle has locked properly using a key fob lock - always check your doors are locked before leaving your vehicle unattended.
- Consider fitting an internal security cage to your vehicle.
- When tools and equipment are not being used, ensure they are kept securely in a lockable store rather than in your vehicle.
- Always remove tools from the vehicle when it is left unattended for long periods of time and overnight.
- If you have a garage, use it. If your vehicle is parked on a driveway, consider installing security lighting. If neither of these apply, always try to park in well-lit areas.
- Keep a list of tools, together with serial numbers and any identifying marks. You can do this at www.immobilise.com. This will help to trace them back to you if they are recovered.
MetTrace is a London wide burglary reduction initiative designed to protect London homes with forensic property marking products. Specifically targeted areas have or will be receiving a free SmartWater property marking kit under this scheme. Since 2015 when MetTrace began, it has reduced residential burglary in the targeted areas by 20.8 per cent, which is 5,770 fewer burglaries committed across London. This has also saved 82,632 police officers hours allowing them to concentrate on other areas of policing.
Further information on how to secure your home and how to secure your business can be found on the Secured by Design website http://www.securedbydesign.com/crime-prevention-advice/. Secured by Design is the UK Police flagship initiative that is founded on the principles of designing out crime and crime prevention. At its core, Secured by Design aims to bring together elements of physical security with environmental design, layout and construction.
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