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Tony Allen

Security Matters - Back to Basics!

Thu 3 Dec 2009

By Tony Allen
Personal security is all about preventing attacks on oneself or one's property. So how about a few reminders of practices we can all take responsibility for ourselves.

Pedlars and other unwanted individuals knocking on doors: use your peephole in the door, or have a chain fitted to your main entry door, so you can check on callers without risking allowing them entry. Put up a "No cold callers" sign in the window nearest the entrance door. One of my neighbours has, and I can see all sorts of door-to-door sales types (and canvassers) walk on without disturbing him. So it works!

Garden sheds: if you keep valuable items in your shed, don't just lock it, secure it properly. We had a shed on display at the Bovey Tracey Horticultural Society Show in August with all types of equipment available for securing items. 

The Teignbridge Crime Prevention Officer (Brian Graham) can provide free security checks for homes (including sheds) and is contactable on 01626 215158. Use him if you need to. He provides a service paid for through your Council Tax, and is extremely good value for money, as you will find if you meet him. An added bonus is his wide repertoire of anecdotes about what is nevertheless a very serious subject.

Cars and contents............

With Christmas just having gone, you will no doubt have been made aware of the risk of leaving presents on show in parked cars (and even through downstairs windows). Yet still we constantly get stories about parked cars being broken into at various parking areas on the moors and in other beauty spots, because items such as handbags and shopping have been been left on view in the car. Please be sensible and place these items in a locked boot. It seems so obvious, but still some people don't do so. 

Likewise with valuable Sat Nav equipment. If it is detachable, hide it away if the car is left for any length of time, and clean the dust marks left on the dashboard that will show that's exactly what you have done. Then a potential thief should have no grounds for breaking in to remove it!

Keys and locks............

This one really astounds me. If you've got them, use them! While delivering Focus newsletters around the Bovey, Lustleigh and Moretonhampstead area over recent years, I've been shocked by the numbers of front doors I've come across left wide open and unattended, unlocked or have the keys hanging in the lock. The same applies to vehicles. What on earth are people thinking who do this? The opportunist thief is the one most likely to carry out a burglary or a theft of or from a vehicle. This type of security lapse is beyond belief really, and there is no excuse for it!

Rogue Traders............

Firstly, treat them as you would other cold callers, as described above. If however you do get approached by a doorstep trader, who may want to fix your roof, tarmac your drive, clear your gutters, or whatever, my advice is to never agree to anything on the spot, and certainly never pay them any money. If they seem threatening, say you will call a neighbour, and certainly call the police on 999 as soon as possible.

Email scams............

Not everyone in Bovey has a computer, as I've been told many times, but for those that have, email scams are something to be very aware of. We've all heard of or read about people that have lost hundreds or even thousands of pounds by responding to an offer that must have seemed too good to ignore. Maybe you are acquainted with a Nigerian businessman who is anxious to put his great fortune into your bank account in order to transfer his monies into the UK banking system. Or one that has found some long lost ancestor of yours who has left a lot of money and you are the only known descendent. It's all rubbish of course, but some seem to succumb to the most improbable and implausible stories. Just ignore!!!!

Likewise organisations purporting to be able to reclaim tax for you, or needing to check your bank account details: neither HM Revenue & Customs, local authority, nor the clearing banks will ever ask you for these details by email or even on the telephone. They will always write to you, and you can then phone them to check validity of the request. If you receive a scam (by email or post), the best thing to do is record what details you can, including any details of the sender, and notify Devon County Trading Standards (tel: 08454 04 05 06) or your local police (tel: 08452 777 444). Alternatively log on to www.consumerdirect.gov.uk and report it there.

Join or establish a Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Scheme............

In the Bovey area we have an excellent neighbourhood policing team, who are very supportive of NHW. We hold regular meetings, often with guest speakers, and have a useful network for giving warnings about criminal activities in the area. We have recently recruited three new NHW group schemes, covering some eight roads and streets. We are also trying to re-establish some schemes that have lapsed due to people movements. So, if you feel it would be beneficial to the security of your neighbourhood to be in a NHW scheme, then, if in Bovey Tracey or Heathfield, please contact either me on 01626 836 239 or bowdens.nhw@btinternet.com, or the neighbourhood policing team at Chudleigh police station on 08452 777 444 or on chudleigh@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk. One of us will get back to you.  

Finally, install a smoke alarm............!

Two young people died unnecessarily in the recent Ellacombe fire tragedy. An installed working smoke alarm could have avoided this. The Fire Service has been approached about installing over 1,200 in Torbay since. If you haven't got one, then please contact the local fire service now by email at firekills@dsfire.gov.uk or use FREE PHONE 0800 731 1822 about arranging a free safety inspection at your home. You know it makes sense, so don't just ignore it, do something about it now!!!     

Other columns by Tony Allen

TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” - Tue 9 Nov 2021
TONY ALLEN’S COLUMN “COMMUNITY MATTERS” GETTING INVOLVED WITH YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL - Mon 2 Aug 2021
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WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON IN OUR LOCAL COUNCILS…? - Thu 1 Aug 2019
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RUBBISH, SPEED, LIGHTS OUT, BADGERS and more! - Mon 7 Nov 2011
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Helping Ourselves In Time Of Austerity - Sun 9 Jan 2011
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The Ultimate Deterrent or Not - Tue 6 Jul 2010
NHS Summary Care Records  Will Your Personal Health Information Be Secure? - Mon 3 May 2010
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Security matters - are you being conned? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security matters - ID cards and hotel key cards - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security matters - Personal security - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Who owns your identity? - Wed 4 Nov 2009
Security Matters - Victim of crime - need help? - Wed 4 Nov 2009


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