To Catch a “Pink Panther”

Stephen Armson-Smith, Crime Prevention Tactical Advisor with Essex Police, gives us advice in the wake of the Portland Tiara theft.

A gang of thieves smashed an armoured glass display case at The Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire on Tuesday night and stole the famous Portland Tiara – seen by countless members of the public and described as a ‘national treasure’.

I don’t know if you saw the above in the newspapers, not the thing of iconic movies featuring diamond thieves, but a group of ruthless organised criminals depriving the nation of a work art.

Is this the start of a spate of similar crimes like that in the past with Jade collections that I cannot say, but this would be a wise time look at your collections especially if they contain valuable jewels and review the security you have in place to protect them. Check your CCTV and case/intruder alarms are working correctly, is the time/date on CCTV correct, are the cameras clean and free from obstruction, the earliest activation of the alarm is important, thought about a “fog generator”? are you flaunting the security that you have with good signage (remember some of this could be put away whilst open so as not spoil the “Visitor Experience”).

Then the staff – time for some reminder staff training? in a lot cases it will start with “hostile recognisance” a supposed innocent visit to the collection to establish what security you have in place and the best exit routes, or that person that is on property out of hours or that “lost (?)” person in private areas, ensure your staff keep a look out for and report any suspicious activity – a diplomatic challenge will not upset an innocent visitor but may put off a potential thief (if you can discreetly steer the suspect into CCTV view would be an advantage), BUT NEVER PUT YOURSELF AT RISK. Keep a notebook and pen in your pocket to record time/date and description of people and vehicles including index numbers that are suspious.

 

Just a few tips, not an exhaustive list and hopefully not needed.

Invitation to join Heritage Watch

 

This guest post is by Stephen Armson-Smith from Essex Police

Heritage Watch was launched in Essex on 23rd April 2015 following the pattern of those already in existence in Cheshire and Hertfordshire. Since that date there have had numerous mini launches around the county membership currently stands at 135 members. We have also assisted Kent and the City of York with the launch of their Heritage Watch schemes.

Heritage Watch is an Essex Police led partnership between agencies that are committed to protecting our heritage, as well as members of the public who want to help preserve our heritage.

The watch scheme looks to maintain and preserve important places of interest, encouraging vigilance and reporting of suspicious activity around sites. This is to prevent any theft or crime that may damage assets beyond recovery, which may lead to the loss of a piece of history for this and future generations.

Heritage Watch locations would include ancient earth works and archaeological sites, listed buildings, museums, galleries, religious buildings, historic visitor attractions buildings and objects of importance to the local community and others.

We aim to inform Heritage Watch members; of crime prevention advice, incidents affecting heritage assets, events and general information relevant to heritage assets both local to Essex and further afield. Naturally no news is good news in relation to crime reports, but we hope also to source other relevant news of interest too. This information will provided by Essex Community Messaging (ECM) and e-mail messages via your local Essex Watch Liaison Officer.

Who can join?

Anyone with a heritage interest including those entrusted with the care or management or ownership of a heritage asset as listed above, or even as an heritage enthusiast or frequent visitor to heritage locations, you can all help each other within Heritage Watch.

For further information and an on-line application form go to:

https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/essex-watch/heritage-watch/

Like other watch schemes we hope that Heritage Watch will be a two way flow of information, with general relevant information and events sent from members via their local Essex Watch Liaison Officer to other members, and members reporting crime and suspicious activity to the Police either by dialing 999 in cases of emergency or crimes in progress or for non-emergencies by dialling 101 or by reporting online.

Lead Roof Thefts

Stephen Armson-Smith, Crime Prevention Tactical Advisor with Essex Police, advises on how to improve the security of your historic lead roof:

Around the county we are seeing a number of thefts of lead from roofs again from churches, historic buildings and also some more modern buildings too. All too often the theft of lead from a roof is only discovered after a downpour of rain and then the value of the theft is often exceeded by the value of the water ingress damage, sometimes with heritage properties irreversible. For this reason it is important to know your building, where those attractive metals have been used and check regularly that these are intact.

I have listed below a few crime prevention tips in relation to metal theft, but not all will apply to your property as each location may have site specific issues:

  1. Make it difficult for the thief; where possible remove any climbing aids.
  2. Make it difficult for the thief; metals can be heavy so make them walk a distance by securing gates when possible, and keep wheel barrows and wheelie bins locked away.
  3. Make it difficult for the thief; keep sheds and outbuildings secure with good locks (see www.soldsecure.com ), it adds insult to injury if they have used your tools and ladders.
  4. Maximise surveillance by sympathetically cutting back shrubs and trees where possible.
  5. Cultivate the neighbours to watch over your property and report any suspicious activity whilst it is happening, crime being committed 999, after the event 101.
  6. External lighting for security? If someone will see what is being lit up or notice the lights have come on if PIR activated light it, if not the only person to benefit from lighting is the thief.
  7. Illusion of occupancy – a light and radio left on inside ect.
  8. Consider using a forensic marker suitable for roofs (see www.securedbydesign.com ), and if you have it ensure that you have clear signage at possible climb points like downpipes and at your perimeter.
  9. Consider a roof top alarm and possibly CCTV (see www.nsi.org.uk or www.ssaib.org ); again if you have security flaunt it, ensure you have clear signage displayed.
  10. Consider planting prickly shrubs at possible climb points and to reinforce boundaries to deter the thief.
  11. Consider the use of anti-climb paints, but remember not below 2m and signage must be displayed.

Further useful advice can be found on the internet including these webpages:

https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/theft-metal-church-buildings/theft-metal-church-buildings.pdf/

http://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/other-crime-prevention/728/metal-theft/

If you know who is committing crime contact the Police using the 101 non-emergency number or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

 

For more information on local heritage crime, read this previous post about the Essex Heritage Watch