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

Simon Lawrence

Simon Lawrence - Credit: Archant

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.

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.”


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“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.

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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.

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