Police to play burglar in the middle of the night
(DAILY MAIL) A shadowy figure lurking in the garden in the early hours. A rattle on a window latch. It must be a burglar.
But don’t panic too soon and call the police. That could be them outside.
Officers have begun testing windows and doors at night as part of a campaign to increase home security.
If they find one open, they are under orders to knock on the door and drag sleepy residents from their beds and lecture them.
The move is part of an initiative called Operation Golden which aims to slash burglary rates in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Police say their actions are necessary as almost 40 per cent of all burglars gain access through an unsecured window or door.
But some residents have condemned the plan, saying it could cause alarm and increase the fear of crime, especially among the elderly.
One 82-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: ‘If they’re not careful the police will end up arresting their own officers.
It’s going to get very confusing for them. If I got a knock on my door at 1am I’d tell whoever was there where to get off and I wouldn’t be polite about it.’
Resident Adrian Dodd, 42, said: ‘I think it is preposterous. It is all well and good advising people but you can’t come trespassing on property in the dead of night and waking people up. Someone will have a heart attack.
The operation should be restricted to daylight hours.’
Inspector Gareth Woods, who is heading the operation, said that it would be in effect from 4pm until 2am.
He admitted that some residents will not be happy about the wake-up call, but said: ‘If we’re told to get lost then that’s a risk we take.
The bottom line is officers get a mixed reception when doing anything like this, but I would say to any of my officers that if they see an unsecured car or house to let the owner know no matter what time of day or night.
Chief Inspector Peter Crowcroft said: ‘There are burglars who specialise in sneakins. They walk around streets, nipping in and out of gardens and trying doors until they find one unlocked.
‘Even if the family is in the next room watching television or eating, the criminal will walk into the kitchen or hallway, grab a bag, purse, or some other item of value and be out again in seconds. These burglaries can be avoided by locking the door.’
Last year a 38-year-old woman from Hove in East Sussex was stunned when she walked into her lounge to find a PCSO clambering through her window. The woman, who did not want to be named, was then given a stern lecture by the officer on home security.
‘I thought it was a bit much really, but it did make me think,’ she said.
Officers and police community support officers are also distributing thousands of door hanger cards which list security checks to be carried out before anyone leaves home.