‘You will be surprised to learn how many cars and properties are left insecure’, said one of the three officers in attendance during a Crime Prevention Webinar held on Wednesday evening, October 14.
The online event was offering advice to members of public, especially Orton residents, on staying safe.
This comes as Cambridgeshire Police say Orton has been badly targeted by criminals in the last two months, with a steep rise in crime.
Crime Reduction Officer Amanda Large recalled a series of offences that took place in the Orton neighbourhood between August 1 and October 14, including 29 thefts from vehicles, 21 offences of vehicle and property interference and 11 reports of vehicles being stolen.
The investigations are being developed; however, two arrests have been made so far and five cars have been recovered following these incidents.
Speaking at the webinar, Amanda said: “There’s been an increase in crime in Orton generally, it has been hit hard. However, the common theme we have found is that criminals are finding insecure cars and homes which is giving them an easy access.
“It’s common sense but we are still finding people leave their valuables or documents and other items on display in cars, or leave their cars and houses unlocked.
“Recently, we had a lady who had her passport taken, people are leaving their laptops in the cars which have been stolen recently.
“Do not leave items on display in unlocked vehicles – it’s common sense but still happening.
“People will break in for anything- The things you might not find valuable, for example a coat that you use to walk the dog, the criminal doesn’t know it’s not a fancy coat. They will break in for it. Some of them are desperate and anything is worth it for them.
“Our advice is to take everything from the vehicle, it will not attract the thieves.
“Be double sure you have locked your car and doors and windows to your house. There are too many people who don’t take this seriously.”
Green Councillor for Orton Waterville, Julie Howell was also present at the meeting. She thanked Cambridgeshire Police for the online event, and put forward questions on behalf of her ward residents to the police.
Cllr Howell asked: “If someone is flying a drone too low above my property – can it be criminals doing a ‘recce’ looking into my house before a potential theft…should we call the police?”
PC Craig Trevor said he has not come across any reports like this before where suspects use drones.
Cllr Howell further asked on behalf of members of public: “If I report a crime about my vehicle, will my insurance premium go up?“
The officers said that it depends on individual policies, but most likely it will go up only if there are many reports of the same thing from the area.
There was a further question about house prices being impacted if more crime is reported from the area.
Officers said: “We don’t know about that. But if you don’t report the crime, we can’t invest appropriate resources in the area. We encourage people to report as much as they can.”
Cllr Howell also raised a question put forward by residents which said: “I should have the right to leave anything in my car and the police should do more to protect us. One person said ‘this is the third time I had my laptop taken from my car’.”
The officers said it was a bit unfair to blame the police. Their first advice is always to lock your cars and houses and do not leave anything on display.
Amanda Large and PC Trevor said: “That is the first thing we advise people.
“We don’t live in an ideal world unfortunately where you can leave everything unlocked. The team can’t be everywhere. People need to be more careful and take their own responsibility.”
Cambridgeshire Police officers further gave advice on what more they can do to keep their houses and other belongings safe. Including investing in driveway sensors which pick up on movements and alert residents inside the house.
The officers said these are economical yet very effective and easy to install equipment. They can help prevent a variety of crimes, and if everyone had these, the crime levels would be much less than we are experiencing now. Video doorbells and CCTV are also effective methods.
More advice and information on the safety equipment can be found on the force’s website.