Many thieves simply walk through unlocked front doors, London police warn

September 27th, 2010 - 12:37 pm ICT by BNO News  

LONDON (BNO NEWS) — More than 5,000 homes in London were burgled last year simply because their owners did not lock their doors, according to statistics released by Scotland Yard on Monday.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of London is now launching an awareness campaign to urge Londoners to “lock before you leave”. It aims to remind homeowners to lock their doors before they leave the home.

Police will air radio ads to target listeners in their cars or at home while digital displays will reach commuters at key underground connections throughout the British capital.

“Although most residential burglaries involve criminals forcing their way into homes, many thefts occur when suspects simply walk in or climb in,” said Assistant Commissioner Ian McPherson, head of MPS Territorial Policing. “Our simple message is always ‘lock before you leave’. If your home is locked up and secure, burglars will find it much harder to get in.”

The launch of the campaign on Monday comes just one month before clocks go back one hour in the country, which traditionally is a time of increased criminal activity.

“Burglary, on the whole, is an opportunist crime and a burglar will look for an easy way to get in that won’t take long or arouse suspicion, so many try the front door first,” said Detective Superintendent Martin Rusling, head of the MPS anti-burglary task force Operation Bumblebee.

“Over half of all burglaries occur through the front door. Mostly they are forced, but many are simply opened either from the front, or by putting something through the letter box,” Rusling continued. “It’s easy to leave your front door unlocked, especially when you’re in a hurry or distracted. But even if you only do it once, that could be enough to get burgled.”

One Londoner who recently suffered a ‘walk-in’ burglary spoke of her shock at becoming a victim. Dalia Majeed, a housewife from Brentford, woke to find her back door open and her husband’s wedding ring, wallet and other items missing.

Speaking two weeks after the burglary, which happened at her home on September 13, Majeed said: “We left a small window slightly open by the back door as it was very warm. I woke up around 6.45 in the morning to find the window and door wide open. I then noticed my husband’s wedding ring was gone - my name was inscribed on it so it has great sentimental value.”

“It was awful,” Majeed continued. “The burglary has been very distressing to our family. My children have had difficulty sleeping and keep waking in the night wanting to know if the doors are locked. Most of the things can be replaced but I’m very upset that we may never get my husband’s wedding ring back.”

The campaign material highlights the 5,199 homes that were burgled in this way in 2009, and carries the reminder ‘Always lock before you leave’ while encouraging the public to visit the MPS special anti-burglary website - http://www.metbumblebee.org - for more information and advice.

The statistics released on Monday also showed that the total number of residential burglaries in London was slightly down during the period April to August of this year. This year during the period, a total of 23,976 residential burglaries were reported. It represents a 9.2 percent decrease from the 26,393 residential burglaries during the last period in 2009.

Most of the burglaries - 68 percent - were break-ins where force was used to gain entry, including 54 percent of which were through the front door. Thirteen percent of the residential burglaries were walk-ins where no force was used, of which 64 percent was through the front door.

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