Think like a burglar once the clocks go back, urges Hackney’s borough commander

PUBLISHED: 12:06 22 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:07 22 October 2014

Simon Lawrence

Simon Lawrence


Hackney’s borough commander has warned residents to beware of burglars once the clocks go back this weekend, when criminals traditionally intensify in their prowl for valuables, gifts and cash.

+ Top ten tips for securing your home:

■ Don’t leave your keys or ID documents within easy reach of doors, letterboxes or windows.

■ Close and lock all doors and windows. If you have multi-locking door handles, lift the handle, lock it with the key and remove it. Remember - LIFT - LOCK - REMOVE. Put the key in a safe place out of sight in case of fire.

■ Lock garages and sheds so garden tools and ladders can’t be used to break into your home.

■ Keep side gates locked and wheelie bins stored behind them.

■ Use timer switches linked to lights and a radio so it appears that someone is at home.

■ Invest in a safe for valuables and sentimental items and securely fix it to a solid surface.

■ Install a visible intruder alarm system - burglars don’t want to be seen or heard.

■ Install low-level ‘dusk till dawn’ lighting to increase visibility and deter burglars.

■ Keep side and rear boundaries high to restrict access and front boundaries low to remove hiding places.

■ Photograph and mark valuables and sentimental items with your postcode and house number/name. Register items with serial numbers at

For more help and advice 

Hackney’s borough commander has warned residents to beware of burglars once the clocks go back this weekend, when criminals traditionally intensify in their prowl for valuables, gifts and cash.

Ch Supt Simon Lawrence urged everyone to “think like a burglar”.

He told the Gazette: “You can see every October when the light goes out burglary increases massively.

“In this borough it’s less than a 10 per cent increase, but in some boroughs residential burglary doubles the day the clocks go back, because they’ve got that extra two hours of darkness to find an unoccupied property.”

“If you walk past a house would you think it was occupied or not, burglars don’t like light, they don’t like it when a security light comes on, they don’t like it if there’s a dog in the house, they will pick somewhere else.”

His warning coincided with this week’s launch of Operation Bumblebee, a London-wide Met initiative to tackle residential burglary during the winter months encouraging people to take simple steps to reduce crime.

About a third of residential burglaries show no signs of forced entry, suggesting either doors or windows were not properly secured.

Ch Supt Lawrence was responsible for rolling out predictive mapping to all 32 London boroughs in his previous job at the Territorial Police HQ.

A computer generated programme produces maps which change daily based on crimes which took place the previous day, flagging up areas which police then patrol.

Ch Supt Lawrence explained: “The theory behind it is the foraging theory, which sees an animal go the nearest place to get food and it will keep going back until it runs out or they are in danger.

“Burglars will go back to where they have previously had success, they will keep going until either there is nothing worth stealing or it becomes too hot, say if the police are there to prevent the burglary through patrol or they decide they have done too much in that area and they move on.”

Another method of crime prevention comes through “cocooining”, which sees safer neighbourhood teams knock on the doors of neighbours of crime victims, encouraging them to take preventative steps.

Ch Supt Lawrence said it would be positive if they could prevent just one person becoming a burglary victim by them following the advice.

He said: “I could talk all day about burglary, but it’s about the personal possession that goes missing, it’s the insurance, it’s the “now I’m scared to go into my home”, from a police resource we have then got a police investigation - just one burglary does that.”

“We haven’t won the battle with burglary, it is relentless, but traditionally at this time it will increase so we need to send out a prevention message to make sure people are vigilant.”

On Sunday, October 26, the clocks will go back one hour at 2am.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hackney Gazette