Surrey Police is today (25 October) launching a dedicated campaign to tackle an increase in burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud and cyber-crime offences during the winter months.
As the nights get longer and darker, we traditionally see a rise in burglary and anti-social behaviour across the county, but in recent years we have also begun to see a rise in online offending, including seasonal fraud and cyber-crime.
This campaign will raise the awareness of the public on what these offences can look like, where to report them and how to not fall foul of them. Activities will include increased and targeted patrols, community engagement events, including a pumpkin carving competition where officers will be able to directly engage with the community and talk about local issues, a social media campaign and three Facebook live events, where members of the public will be able to ask our specialist panellists questions and raise concerns.
From March 2020 to February 2021, we have seen residential burglary offences in Surrey drop by an average of 39% across the county. This is thanks to people being at home more and burglars having less opportunity to break in. However, with restrictions lifted and the festive season approaching, people are expected to be out of the house more, which may give burglars more opportunity to commit crime.
The campaign will focus on raising awareness of how best to secure your home and your sheds/garages, and how to make best use of free prevention techniques such as defensive planting.
Detective Chief Inspector Jak Bowers, Force Lead for Burglary, said; “Burglary is a crime that we are all vulnerable to and is one that can leave victims really feeling traumatised and unsafe in their own homes.
"Although you can never say that you have completely ‘burglar-proofed’ your house, there are certain things you can do to help make this crime less likely to happen to you. These include installing video doorbells, CCTV, security lights, making sure your house looks occupied when out and even using 'defensive planting' by putting spiky or thorny plants around your garden to keep would-be thieves out. We are hoping that this campaign will help people feel more secure in their house and be proactive in preventing burglars ‘at the front door’”.
The other crime type that we normally see increase in winter with the darker nights, is anti-social behaviour (ASB). Examples of anti-social behaviour can include street drinking, groups of people hanging around, noise nuisance or rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour. However, any behaviour that is aggressive or intimidating or destructive, that damages or destroys another person’s quality of life is anti-social behaviour.
Victims may also not know who to report what offences to, which may put them off reporting at all. This campaign aims to change this by engaging directly with residents and making it clear where they can go if they have a problem in their neighbourhood.
Surrey Police ASB Manager Jo Grimshaw said, “ASB is one of the crimes types that many people may not report and just assume it is something they have to live with. This may be because they are unsure about who to report incidents to, fear of reprisals or because of a feeling that it isn’t important enough. However, we know that repeated anti-social behaviour can have a devastating impact on victims and local communities.
"We hope this campaign will show that we take this crime very seriously and will deal with it robustly with our partner agencies. Victims should feel confident in reporting ASB and knowing they don’t have to live in fear or anxiety.”
In recent years we have also seen an increase in seasonal fraud and cyber-crime offences. This is most likely due to the increasing popularity of online shopping, especially around the Black Friday and Christmas shopping period.
These offences may include online shopping scams, doorstep and courier fraud, phishing, and hacking. In the last 12 months, there have been 102,025 reports of online shopping scams across the UK. The total reported losses are a staggering £74.8m and these figures rose consistently from September 2020 and peaked at January 2021.
Likewise, so far this year, Surrey Police have received 157 reports of doorstep fraud and rogue trading, relating to vulnerable victims. This has amounted to £325.75k total loss, with 81 victims losing an average of £4,034.
Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said: “We hope that this campaign will be successful in raising awareness of these types of scams, what to look out for and how to report it.
"Fraud and cyber-crime can affect anyone, but especially the vulnerable and elderly. This is why we are working with partners in the community to reach those who are most at risk, through doctor surgeries, community centres and other similar organisations. You can also find crime prevention advice on our website.”
If you think you have been the victim of a crime, report it to us via: