Police launch crackdown on outdoor property crime

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With the weather set to get warmer over the coming months Horsham police is launching its annual crackdown on outdoor property theft.

The campaign, named Operation Tulip, will be launched this spring with officers out and about speaking to residents on how to prevent their outdoor properties from being broken into.

A spokesman for Horsham Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “As the warmer weather arrives, the opportunities for thieves can increase with open windows, insecure sheds and gardening tools left out.”

Officers will be hosting four events at garden centres and nurseries across the district to help raise awareness of the issue.

On Sunday March 13, PCSO Damian Cecil and PCSO Sue Poynter along with representatives from Horsham Neighbourhood Watch will be at Hillier Garden Centre, in Brighton Road, Horsham, from 10am to midday to offer advice to customers on how prevent their outdoor properties being broken into.

The team will then be popping across to Newbridge Nurseries, in Billingshurst Road, Broadbridge Heath, for the afternoon (between 2pm and 4pm) to continue issuing advice.

On Sunday April 3 PCSO Anika Clough and representatives from Horsham Neighbourhood Watch will be holding a similar event at Old Barn Nurseries, on the A24, near Dial Post, between 11am and 1pm.

PCSO Tracy Bicknell and representatives from Horsham Neighbourhood Watch will also be at Squires, London Road, Washington, on the same day between 2pm and 4pm.

As well as officers being on hand to offer advice Horsham Police has released the following steps to keep your outdoor properties safe:

- Secure your rear garden by shutting and locking any gates. You should also check any boundary fences to make sure they are secure and well maintained.

- A gravel path is a good crime prevention alternative to paving slabs or paviers. If the gravel is laid fairly thickly it will crunch underfoot and act as a deterrent to the thief.

- Put away tools and gardening equipment securely after use - they could be stolen or even used to break into your home if left lying around - and remember to lock your shed. Fitting good quality locks to all doors. Padlocks should be at least 6cm / 2.5ins wide, of hardened steel, have at least 5 pins and be a closed shackle type (to reduce risk of being forced). Try to ensure that you fit British Standard approved locks.

- Remember to always lock your garage door securely. Metal ‘up and over’ doors can be secured with extra locks fitted to either side and/or a floor-mounted locking ‘T’ bar with a closed shackle padlock. Wooden garage doors can be secured with two substantial hasps and staples and closed shackle padlocks.

- Security mark or paint property such as lawn mowers, furniture and tools with your postcode and house number.

- Advertise the fact that your property is marked and keep a note of serial / make / model numbers.

- Register your property for free and improve your chances of getting it back if it is lost or stolen at www.immobilise.com

- Take photographs of any valuable garden ornaments. If they are stolen, police can circulate the photographs to help with identification. If an ornament is going to be placed to the front of the home place the item in clear view of the house or a main road so that attempts to steal it may be seen. Have experts permanently fix the item onto a purpose made concrete foundation block.

- Ensure that bicycles are security marked and secured to an anchor point inside the shed or garage using a high security lock.

- Security lighting which is activated by movement offers a great deterrent to burglars as well as offering comfort for the owner. It should be fitted on the front and rear of the house to illuminate the garden area.

- Newly planted trees and shrubs can also be stolen. Remove evidence of recently disturbed soil by washing down paths and drives and placing bark around the planting area and a couple metres either side of the new plant and remove the plant label. There is also a range of plant anchors specifically designed to protect new shrubs and trees. These consist of a high tensile steel cable which loops around the base of the plant and is attached to an anchoring device which is driven deep into the ground.

- There have been instances of flagstone theft, and in particular York stone. Mark each stone with an identifiable mark or etch your postcode so they can be identified if stolen. Also consider the use of SmartWater to mark flagstones. SmartWater is a uniquely coded forensic liquid which is only visible under UV light. It provides undeniable proof of ownership, and is capable of linking criminals to the crime scene.

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