String of burglaries ‘may be connected’

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A string of nine burglaries across Hertfordshire may be linked, admit Herts Police.

Between Wednesday, June 29, and Friday, July 1, two burglaries were committed in St Albans, one in London Colney and six across Harpenden and Redbourn.

Detective Inspector Pete Frost of St Albans’ Local Crime Unit said: “At this time there isn’t any evidence to suggest these crimes are linked but we are not ruling out the possibility and are currently working on a number of positive leads.

“In a few of the burglaries, access has been gained through jemmying doors and windows. I would, therefore, like to remind residents to take all possible steps to make homes secure and remember to lock doors properly, by lifting the handle and turning the key on PVCu doors.

“Keep windows closed when leaving the house, including upstairs windows and make sure garden gates, sheds and garages are locked with good quality locks, preventing tools from being stolen which are often used in burglaries.

“It is also important to be vigilant when at home, and make sure accessible doors and windows are locked when you are in the garden in the warmer weather, opportunist thieves will target insecurities.”

He added: “St Albans has had 27 fewer burglaries, which is a reduction of 29.7 per cent on the previous year. However, with 64 burglaries since the beginning of April 2016, this is still too many. I would like to reassure our residents my officers are doing everything they can and we are deploying additional resources covertly and overtly, from across the county to tackle this series. Local officers are currently conducting house to house enquires and issuing crime prevention advice in the affected areas.”

Police are issuing the following crime prevention advice to homeowners:

· Make sure you double-lock any UPVC doors by lifting the handle and turning the key (to engage the security features) at all times;

· Check all doors are locked and all windows, including those upstairs, are secure before you go out or go to bed;

· Make your home look lived in by using timer switches, preferably in well used rooms (lounge, bedroom, kitchen etc) to front of property;

· Consider installing alarms and ‘dusk to dawn’ security lighting;

· Secure your rear garden - lock your shed, shut and lock any gates and keep fences maintained. Don’t leave ladders and tools outside - they could be used by a burglar;

· Consider installing a CCTV camera outside your property (guidance on the law is available from the Information Commissioners Office www.ico.org.uk);

· Check with your insurance companies that all your jewellery/valuables are covered – will require evidence either through receipts or photographs;

· At home, or if wearing valuable items out in public, try to keep them out of sight if possible;

· Make sure safes are of a good quality and comply with official insurance rating standards. They should be secured to a wall or floor;

· Postcode marking your valuables with a UV pen and registering them on a free property database like www.immobilise.com can work as a deterrent to thieves and increase the chances of your property being recovered if it is stolen.

Anyone with information on suspicious activity in the area is asked to contact the Hertfordshire Constabulary non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively you can contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will never need to go to court.

If residents would like advice on crime prevention then please contact your local officer through the Hertfordshire Constabulary internet page, www.herts.police.uk or by calling 101.