Harlow Community Policing Team: Monthly Report

OFFICERS from Harlow Police have continued patrolling in different areas of the community since the move to Tier Two restrictions for Essex. The first weekend went well with the majority of people abiding by the new restrictions. We will be continuing these patrols as well as our day to day business in Harlow. Now that we have entered another period of Lockdown. We know this will be tough for some people and we appreciate the sacrifice everyone’s been making to help keep us all safe.

Our approach will continue to be, engaging with the public, encouraging people to do the right thing and, explaining the regulations. 

We are very grateful to those of you who have reported issues. We cannot deal with these issues without your help and will do our best to respond where possible. Prosecution will be a last resort when all else has failed. #ProtectingandservingHarlow.

Over the past month we have continued to tackle crime throughout Harlow and in the Town Centre. 

Officers from our Town Centre Team arrested a male for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply and have been working with members of the Council Community Safety Team, carrying out High Visibility foot patrols to target violent crime and provide reassurance to the public. They also responded to a young male that had his phone stolen. Suspect quickly located in the town centre and arrested after a stop and search. 

Elsewhere in the town we have been experiencing reports of car’s being stolen, when delivery drivers are leaving their vehicle’s unattended. This could be an opportunist theft, or they are being targeted. Please look out for suspicious people or vehicles. If you do deliveries yourself or know somebody that does. Please make them aware and encourage them to be careful not to leave their keys in the ignition or the car running, making themselves a target.

As well as the thefts of vehicles, we are still receiving reports of thefts of Catalytic converters across Essex and here in Harlow we have had our fair share. Vehicles which have a high ground clearance, Vans, 4×4, Pickups and people Carriers are particularly vulnerable. Thefts from vehicles also seem to be on the rise, mainly tools left inside vans overnight. We would ask everybody to be vigilant and report any people or vehicles acting suspiciously.

Our Police Community Support officers have been out in Harlow helping with local initiatives. By preparing children’s lunches for the half term period. Speaking to our young people at the ‘Eat Healthy, Stay Active Camp’ run by ‘Changing lives community services’. Even getting involved in cooking demonstrations.

Halloween passed without too many issues. Generally, very few people went out door to door Trick or Treating and those that did, were all well behaved. One exception was a young male found to be carrying a collection of Fireworks when stop searched. These were subsequently seized for destruction. 

The return to lock down has seen the majority of people following the restrictions and complying with the current government guidelines. The Policing of these restrictions remains the same with enforcement being the last resort once all other options have been exhausted. The Ripped Gym in Harlow were an example of this recently whereby the management and members of the Gym were given advice and guidance not to ignore the restrictions. They chose not to comply. This resulted in the subsequent arrest of the manager for failing to provide details when issued with a £1000 fine and about 10 people who were using the gym at the time were given £200 fines.

A protest was held on the following Sunday by members, showing their support for the Gym by working out, outside the premises. This was a peaceful protest and the Gym has since posted on social media that they will be closed until December.

This week has seen officers out on foot patrol in Harlow Town centre, working with the staff from the Council Community Safety Team. They have been carrying out searches in relation to Operation Sceptre, which is a knife crime initiative. They have had some success in finding knives and potential weapons that have been hidden in and around the Town centre. This is good news following a stabbing that occurred not far from the Town centre over the weekend. The offender was arrested soon after the offence, but we still strive to do everything we can to reduce the risks from knife crime and ensure Harlow remains a safe place.

Crime Prevention:

As stated in our last newsletter the nights are getting darker earlier, Houses are more likely to be targeted and burgled. They will see that houses/properties are in darkness and see this as an opportunity to try and break into your house, before you return home from work.

There are things that you can do/use around your house to secure, protect and prevent your property being broken into. One of the things you can do is using timers on lights. This will give the perception of someone being in your house before you are getting home from work. 

As you begin your Christmas shopping, criminals start their shopping season as well. 

Your guide to pickpockets and distraction theft.

The observers

These include people loitering in public places who appear to be checking out passers-by, paying particular interest to their handbags, shopping bags and where they might place their wallet or purse.

This also is a tactic used near cashpoints where one person will stand close and distract you while another is watching you input your pin number. 

The opportunists

Pickpockets also operate in shops and department stores, where people are more likely to be standing still, distracted and so paying less attention to their belongings, making them an easier target.

Be more aware of your surroundings in busy shops and shopping centres because they’re ideal places for pickpockets, as it’s easier for them to brush past people, take items and blend into the crowd.

Team tactics

Pickpockets don’t always operate alone, they may work in teams to distract the target while someone unseen removes the items and blends back into the crowd. Another member might step in as an enforcer in the event of an altercation.

Crowding in

Thieves vary their tactics based on the location and the density of the crowd. One tactic is where a group of them push up against a victim in a crowded shop or street then quickly reach into the victim’s pocket and steal their wallet, phone or purse.

Dirty tricks

Remember, pickpockets are very skilled at what they do. They know all the tricks and are extremely light-fingered with most of their thefts only taking a second or two. One of their tactics is ‘hugger mugging’ where a thief will appear to be over-friendly for no particular reason and hug you while pickpocketing you. Another ploy is for the thief to stumble into you and place their hands on you to steady themselves, whilst removing your wallet or phone!

The point of distraction

Pickpocket teams are adept at creating distractions. This could be anything from a game to a loud shout, all designed to avert your attention while an unseen accomplice steals your valuables. So do try not to be easily distracted. Waving a sheet of paper in your face while asking directions means they can use the other hand to steal your stuff.

Are you a prime target?

Do’s

• Do keep purses and bags closed and secure at all times.

• Do carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest.

• Do return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it.

• Do use a purse that’s difficult to open. One that zips or snaps shut is best, and keep it closed. Invest in some purse bells as well.

• Do use a money belt if you’re carrying a significant quantity of cash.

• Do conceal your wallet in a buttoned or zipped pocket where it doesn’t bulge.

• Do keep a list, separate from your wallet and phone, of contact numbers of family in case your phone is stolen.

• Do keep a photocopy of your airline tickets, passport, credit cards and any other documents that would be impossible or inconvenient to replace if stolen.

Don’ts

• Don’t hang stuff on the back of a chair.

• Don’t leave anything on the back of a pushchair.

• Don’t place your belongings out of sight on the table or floor.

Remember, having a zipped bag doesn’t mean you’re totally safe. Thieves have been known to walk behind victims while slowly unzipping bags. Yes, they can be that bold. So, never underestimate a pickpocket.

If you have any information about these types of crime you can report anonymously via crime stoppers, contact police through 101 or make us aware via e-mail [email protected]

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