THE CRIME FILE: Abergavenny burglary crackdown
POLICE in Abergavenny are in the middle of a campaign to help drive down burglary in the town. Two sergeants from the team spoke about their efforts.
“Burglary is a violation – this is your home, this is where you live.
We don’t want people going into other people’s homes. We want people to feel safe.”
Sergeant Jon Williams explains part of the thinking behind a six-week effort to drive down neighbourhood burglaries in the town.
Following a spike in burglaries, which have more than doubled compared to the same period last year, an effort to tackle the problem was devised.
Between January and August 2011 there were 21 burglaries in homes in Abergavenny.
This year, there were 44 – more than the whole of 2011, when there were 37.
Non-dwelling burglaries, those from places such as sheds and garages, have fallen, from 112 between January and August 2011, to 97 this year.
Sgt Ceri Carlyon said: “We have seen a slight rise and we wanted to jump on that immediately, we had a look at the root causes for the spike and it was generally opportunists.”
Sgt Williams said a lot of this crime is committed by opportunistic thieves – those who spot an open window, a door on the latch or a car with a sat nav on show – who take the chance when it presents itself.
They hope the operation, which runs until September 30, will remind people that they need to take certain steps to stop themselves becoming a victim.
The operation is a mix of enforcement and education – the two sergeants, four PCs and ten community support officers (CSOs) who make up the Abergavenny neighbourhood policing team are patrolling the streets on foot and on mountain bikes to act as a deterrent. If they see a car with valuables left on show, the owners’ details are looked up and officers send a letter to their home asking them to be mindful of what they leave on show and offering crime prevention advice.
Sgt Williams said: “If we can prevent crime, then all the better, we’d far rather prevent it than detect it.
We’re not bashing people over the head with this, it’s asking the public to help out a bit more by closing windows or putting your sat nav out of sight.”
Police hope to strike a balance between people feeling safe, but not getting complacent and thinking they won’t be a victim of crime because they live in a safe area.
Sgt Williams said: “There’s no skill or pride in somebody being a sneaky thief, but there are people out there who view that as their profession – we want to safeguard people being victims of these hyenas.”
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is also used to catch travelling thieves who come in from bordering areas – it reads the number plate and checks a number of databases to see if that car is linked to any outstanding warrants, people of interest or previous crimes.
Gwent officers can also get access to information from neighbouring forces’ ANPR.
Within the neighbourhood policing team, there is the senior citizen liaison team, which focuses on the sort of crimes aimed at the elderly, such as distraction burglaries, and bogus traders who target vulnerable people.
Sgt Williams said crimes committed against elderly people are under-reported as the victims don’t want to “make a fuss” or feel foolish at being conned, so officers will go out and speak to elderly people about how they can keep themselves safe and what to look out for in con artists or thieves who show up on their doorstep.
They also publish a magazine called the Senior Siren, a mix of articles and advice, and can speak to partner agencies such as Age UK, Monmouthshire Care and Repair and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, who can offer different kinds of help.
Sgt Carlyon said once the operation is finished officers will look at the results, as well as strengths and weaknesses, to see what can be done in future.
She said the feedback so far has been positive, contrary to what they were expecting: “We thought people would be a bit picky about us looking at their vehicles, we were expecting a defensive approach but we’ve had completely the opposite, we’ve had people say ‘thank you, it hadn’t crossed my mind’, it’s been really widely accepted.”
Big rise in burglaries over year
All figures relate to Abergavenny
Dwelling burglaries 2011
January – 1
February – 4
March – 3
April – 3
May – 2
June – 3
July – 3
August – 2
Total – 21
Dwelling burglaries 2012
January – 5
February – 4
March – 1
April – 10
May – 5
June – 9
July – 7
August – 3
Total – 44
Worst-hit areas in Abergavenny are:
Cantref ward (8), Castle ward (8) and Lansdown (7) dwelling burglaries in 2012 so far.
Non-dwelling burglary (sheds, garages etc)
Jan – August 2012 – 97
Jan – August 2011 – 112