West Barnes crack down on burglars and car thieves


A crackdown on car thieves and burglars has been stepped up by the West Barnes Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team.

By Ima Jackson-Obot

A crackdown on car thieves and burglars has been stepped up by the West Barnes Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team.

In the coming weeks they will start night patrols into the early hours, prompted by the two most recent burglaries taking place at night, even-though crime rates in the area have fallen.

They will be highly visible in their uniform, to put criminals off directly and in plain clothes, to give them a better chance of catching the criminals in the act.

West Barnes Safer Neighbourhood Sergeant Graham Chapman said: “Burglaries can have a traumatic effect on the victims.

“It is a priority with us, and that is why we’ve been working hard to drive it down.”

Sergeant Chapman explained that a lot of burglaries are committed by opportunists who come across vulnerable properties and vehicles.

The most recent break-in was two weeks ago, at a hair salon on West Barnes Lane, where a brick was thrown through the window at night.

The manager who didn’t want to be named said that the incident had affected her emotionally and financially.

“It’s horrible. You come in and see the whole place turned upside down and your reaction is Oh my God!” she said.

“It makes you feel paranoid and you don’t really expect it here because it’s a family oriented area.”

Recent figures shows West Barnes SNT were able to significantly reduce house burglaries, and though the number of vehicle thefts had also dropped, they did not reach their target.

They set targets to reduce house burglary by 25% and thefts from motor vehicles by 15% between October 2009 and March 2010.

In March this year, there were two reported burglaries and four vehicle thefts, a reduction from the previous year of eight burglaries and ten vehicle thefts.

“I am very pleased with the statistics that house burglaries and vehicle crime has come down,” added Sergeant Chapman.

The Ward Panel, consisting of residents and police officers had met in September 2009 and agreed that house burglaries and vehicle crimes would be their priorities.

Since January, Safer Merton, which covers all the SNTs in the borough has introduced four initiatives to assist in a Drive out vehicle campaign.

These include providing screws to secure number plates to cars, UV pens to mark property, a  Don’t bother kit with stickers notifying people that the vehicle is empty, and wipes to clean the windscreen of any marks left by satellite navigators.

This drive will be reviewed after seven months depending on how successful it was.

West Barnes SNT regularly hold drop-in surgeries to ask residents their views on issues concerning their area.

They are also working with Raynes Park SNT to start a youth panel, involving pupils from Raynes Park High School, to find out what issues concern them the most where they live and study.

The officers from West Barnes run their own vulnerable vehicle and property scheme, where they inform property or car owners if they have left valuable items in clear view, thereby susceptible to thieves.

Sergeant Chapman said they have already received positive feedback from residents, who have said how happy they are to see police out on the street.

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