The Crime Prevention Website


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Dog versus Alarm

I saw this in a chat room where the discussion was about the merits of alarm boxes versus owning a dog to deter a would-be burglar. All very serious until someone wrote:

‘ I was also told that an Alsatian would be better than an alarm box, so I got one, but the RSPCA made me take it down.’ 

It tickled me.

Mark Zimmer
Interlock Security Ltd

Things Told to the Crime Prevention Officer

Back in the day that the Metropolitan police operated an articulated crime prevention lorry I would book the thing for a few days during the Ealing festival or maybe for a Neighbourhood Watch event and invite people to come on board to view the various displays and ask their crime prevention questions.  Sometimes the questions and stories were quite funny and here’s a selection I collected over the years.....and they’re all true!

“This security lark is all very well but, my old mother had all the right locks on her doors and windows and an alarm and we helped her postcode her valuable property and we put trellis on top of her fence and we put up extra lighting and we bought her a dog and then she got knocked on the head and robbed in Acton High Street!”

“I’ve decided to electrify my back fence.  If someone gets killed is there any chance that I might get prosecuted?”

“I’m a registered firearms holder and will not hesitate to shoot the next person who enters my house uninvited”

“They wouldn’t dare break into my house.”  “Why’s that?” I asked. “Because I’m a Magistrate”

“Don’t talk to me about safes!  I had a really good one; insurance approved with key and combination and all the trimmings.  I kept the wife’s jewels in there and the house deeds and the passports and a few quid I wanted to keep away from the tax man, but I forgot to bolt it into the floor – so they nicked it!”

“I’ve dug a long three feet wide trench behind my garden fence.  The next burglar who comes over the fence is going to be somewhat surprised when he lands on the six inch nails at the bottom of it!”

“Yeh, I can see all these door locks and alarms and things, but they can still break in, so I don’t bother.”  “How many times have you been burgled?”, I enquired. “Six times” came the reply.

“My husband is a mountaineer and practices climbing the back wall of our house.  He’s re-laid some of the house bricks so they stick out to put your feet and hands on.  Do you think this has increased my chances of burglary?”

“My neighbour opposite had an alarm that kept going off for no reason, so we stopped bothering to look out when we heard the damn thing hooting.  Then he had a new one put in and that bloody thing went off as well” “What happened?”, I asked.  “He got burgled.”

“I asked my neighbour to leave one of his three vehicles on my driveway while I was away on holiday, to make it look as if someone was in” “That was a good idea” I remarked.  “Well I thought so too”, he retorted, “Until I got back home to discover that he’d parked his huge delivery van right in front of the entrance door, the very door that the burglars broke through”

My late Father-in-law (a farmer) once said to me; “Calvin, I’ve had to get one of those buggering shotgun cabinets for me shotguns and cartridges.  Bloody waste of time and money if you ask me” “Let’s see it”, I asked.  “It’s in the wash room” he said, pointing vaguely in its direction.  “Where’s the shotguns?” I enquired, finding the cabinet empty. “By the back door, where I always keep ‘em!”

Calvin Beckford was that Crime Prevention Officer and all the above is true!

The General’s Departure

One of the regular and sad duties of a police constable is to deal with sudden deaths, often of people who have no relatives or whose relatives live far away.

It was a bright and crisp Sunday morning in sunny Acton in ‘82 when I took a call to a very large Victorian terraced house along the Uxbridge Road.  We’d been telephoned by the third floor tenants of the house who hadn’t seen the resident landlord for 24 hours and were concerned for his well-being.

Fortunately they had a key to his small flat located in the loft of the house, which was accessed via a rather tight metal spiral staircase. In fact one of the narrowest spiral staircases I had ever walked up.  I let myself in and found the gentleman dead in bed with a half drunk glass of scotch on the bedside cabinet, a copy of Mayfair magazine and the radio tuned to Radio 1.  He was quite cold and had been dead for quite a few hours.  I called for the Divisional Surgeon to attend and afterwards notified the Coroners Officer to arrange the removal of the body and to contact the relatives.  With the Doctor’s view that there had been no foul play it was my job to find out who these relatives were and to take away things of value from his flat so that they could be secured back at the police station.

During the course of my enquiries I discovered that this gentleman was 98 years old and had been a General in the Polish Army.  I recall seeing a photograph of him sitting proudly upon his horse holding a rather menacing sword.  The tenant who’d called us was called Albert.  He was also Polish, as were all the other tenants living on the next two floors below and the basement.  Albert took pride in explaining to me that during the Second World War the General had ridden his horse towards the advancing German tanks!  This was one very brave man!  I recovered an enormous quantity of medals and wartime photographs from one of his bedroom drawers, but little else of value as it seems he had lived a simple and somewhat frugal life, although evidently one that was brimming full of memories and stories to tell.

Having completed my tasks in the old General’s flat I went downstairs to interview the tenants, all of whom were very upset indeed by the General’s sudden departure.  I recall being quite sensitive towards the residents of the house as I could clearly see that the General had been a very kind person and a most popular landlord whom they were going to miss a great deal.

I had completed my interviews and drunk my cup of over-milky cold tea when the doorbell sounded the arrival of the Funeral Directors.  I took them up to his flat and one of them remarked that they might have some difficulty with the spiral staircase. As there were three of them to do the job I didn’t give this remark much notice and returned to Albert’s flat to complete my paperwork.  By this time Albert and his wife had cheered up a little and their eyes had begun to dry.  I suspect this had something to do with the Vodka they had been drinking and kept offering me.

It was then that I started to hear a series of dull thuds.  Have you ever been in a situation when you’ve put two and two together with other facts already acquired and know just exactly what’s going on without actually seeing it?  Well this was just one of those occasions.  Albert knew what was going on too and was looking at me with that look of disbelief when realisation of something quite awful suddenly dawns.

“Oh Gawd”, I muttered to myself as I heard yet another thud and slowly rose from the comfort of my chair to investigate the origin of the noise.  Knowing perfectly well what it was I gingerly opened the door by no more than 2 inches and peered out towards the spiral staircase.  There was the General, encased in a body bag, coming head-first down the spiral staircase with one bloke at his head end and two guys holding onto to his legs for, dare I say it, grim death!  Each step down the staircase resulted in yet another thud as either the General’s head or the rather unfit undertaker’s boot hit the next step below.

I closed the door quickly and explained to Albert in a slightly raised voice that I would be returning to the police station to file my report and that he should expect a call from the Coroners Officer.  I managed to extend this explanation sufficiently to cover the remaining thuds and when I was satisfied that the General’s departure from the house would now be more of a horizontal nature I left for the nick.

Considering what the General had been through during the wars I rather suspect that his final journey from his house would have somewhat amused him – at least I hope so.

A true account (slightly gilded) by Calvin from The Crime Prevention Website.  Names and addresses have been changed.

Early Christmas Shopping

It was approaching Christmas and after a few sherries during lunch the slightly cut Magistrate asked the defendant to remind him of the offence for which he had been charged.

“Doing my Christmas shopping early, your Worship” came the reply.

“That’s no offence”, said the magistrate. “How early were you doing it?”

“Before the shop opened” replied the accused.

10 per cent chance...

Did you know that 10 per cent of all car thieves are left-handed and that all Polar Bears are left-handed?  This means that if your car is stolen there’s a 10 per cent chance it was taken by a Polar Bear!

Not so innocent finder

A woman dropped the purse from her handbag while Christmas shopping in a very busy store.   It was found and returned by an innocent looking young lad.  The woman looked in the purse and remarked “That’s strange. When I lost my purse there was a £20 note in it and now there are four fivers.”  “That’s right”, quirked the young lad. “The last time I found a lady’s purse she didn’t have enough change to reward me”

Dogs and lead-lined umbrellas

One autumn morning, back in the eighties, I was walking on my beat along Goodhall Street NW10 (one rarely ran) heading for Mrs Biggs cafe for a well-earned cuppa tea and bacon sandwich when I spied out of the corner of my eye a front door opening just ahead of me.  Being a young Constable at the time I took note of this happening just in case I had to give evidence about it at some later court hearing.

Having duly noted the event I almost missed the little white dog with red velvet collar exiting the door clearly with intent to do me some harm.  As the little darling ran towards me I smiled to myself and went to mouth the greeting ‘Hello lad’.  Before my tongue could hit the back of my teeth to complete the word ‘lad’ the mongrel’s gnashers had implanted themselves into my ankle, just above the top of my size 11 steel reinforced boot (fat lot of good they were!)

Now it’s not the done thing for a uniformed policeman to squeal out in pain in public and nor is it ‘cool’ to swing ones leg back and forth in an attempt to loosen an animal’s grip.  But that was the scene.

On the fourth attempt at leg swinging, by which time I must have looked like someone from the Ministry of Silly Walks, I freed the dog’s grip.  At the top of my swing the dog’s teeth, some of my flesh and a few parts of my regulation trousers (pronounced ‘trarsiz’ in this part of the country) departed my company and took to the air with some gusto.

Little Fido, was about halfway across the street and still making height when Doris Philpot, his owner, came out from the same door.

Imagine what she must have thought.  There was me with my leg at 90 degrees above the horizontal and Fido apparently off to meet its maker some six feet above the tarmac.

Now Doris was not a small lady, in fact she cast a fair shadow on an autumn day, and although in her late 70s she was fit and fast as I was to discover.  Before I was able to explain what had taken place and point to my now copiously bleeding ankle and damaged regulation trarsiz I had already taken at least four blows from her lead-lined umbrella. (She used to take this with her when collecting her pension at the Post Office after her neighbour got robbed one day)

The pain in my ankle was now completely forgotten as the lumps and grazes began appearing on my head, face and hands and just at the moment that I thought I would have to blow air over the pea in my regulation whistle for assistance a neighbour on the opposite side of the street, who had seen the whole incident, came running out with a smile on her face.

Doris withdrew and on hearing her neighbour’s full account joined her in a bout of raucous laughter. Doris patted me on the back and forgave me for launching Fido into space and with that they both ambled down to the Post Office with the completely unharmed Fido following on behind, smiling at me (at least that’s what I thought he was doing)

I suppose I must have stood there with my mouth wide open looking rather clueless watching the laughing couple meandering up the street.

My interesting day was far from over as it was off to the Central Middlesex Hospital for me to have yet another anti-tetanus jab (fourth dog bite in my two year’s probationary period).  I remember the nurse telling me to drop my trarsiz for the injection, which I duly did, only to turn around to see another half a dozen giggling angels having a good laugh at my buttocks, predicament and obvious embarrassment (police and nurses had an interesting relationship).

I never followed up the incident.  Doris was a charming elderly lady, whom I met on several occasions afterwards, and by all accounts and according to our old dog-bite register this was the first time her dog had ever done something like this.  Perhaps the dog was acting to defend her from a great big dark shadow wearing a strange hat.  Who knows, but I left it at that and as far as I know the dog never did anything like it again.

I never did get my bacon butty.

A true account (slightly gilded) by Calvin from The Crime Prevention Website.  Names and addresses have been changed to protect the guilty.

Nothing like a bit of pre-planning

Hi Calvin - this is a true story.

In my Community Policing days in Harrogate in the late eighties (while on patrol) I was directed to a small Victorian ‘Two up - Two down’ terraced house on my patch to investigate a burglary report. On arrival I was greeted by the complainant, a widower in his eighties.  He explained that despite his house being secure, someone had broken in and stolen all the 'meat off the chicken’ he had cooked the previous day. When questioned he said the house was still secure and no signs of a forced entry were found.

I asked him to show me his security. The complainant closed the front door which led directly onto the street.  He locked the mortice lock and then secured four large bolts on the inside. Then he took a length of builder’s plank and dropped it into two brackets in the door frame securing it like a barn door.  He then took another length of plank and laid it on the floor with one end on the door and the other against his sideboard, which was resting against the opposite wall. “That is secure!” I told him.

He then took me to the kitchen where he showed me his back door security. The door only had one 2-lever lock - probably the original ‘builder’s lock' fitted when the house was built. 

After suitable advice about the 2-lever lock not being fit for purpose a cat appeared from upstairs. ‘Ah, another burglary solved', I thought, but the complainant immediately dismissed any possibility of his pet being a Cat Burglar. 'It is not the cat!’ he insisted.

I promised I would investigate, but while he was removing the planks, bolts and other devices from the front door I told him I was concerned for his safety should he need to get out of the house quickly - should he have a fire in the kitchen, for example.  

He stopped what he was doing, went to the sofa, reached underneath it and pulled out his World War Two RAF Tin Hat and put it on. He then said "I've thought of that.  I put this on and dive through the window and do a forward roll on the pavement when I land!"

Set in his ways, happy and otherwise content, I left the complainant with his crime reference number and adjourned back to the nick. The matter was recorded as ‘No Crime’.

John McPartlan

May 2013

The Robbery Trial

At the conclusion of a very long trial of a man accused of several bank robberies the judge turned to the jury foreman and asked if the jury had reached a verdict.  The foreman said to the judge “We have, your honour” “Have you all agreed upon this verdict?” enquired the judge. “Yes we have” answered the foreman. “Thank you”, said the judge. “Now will you please listen carefully to the clerk who will read out the charges to you”.

The clerk said to the foreman “In respect to the charge of robbing Lloyds Bank at 21 High Street Acton on 21st July 2012 do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”  “Not guilty” replied the foreman. “In respect to the charge against the defendant of robbing the Midland Bank 234 Tudor Street, Ealing on 22nd July 2012”, continued the clerk “do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”. “Not guilty” replied the foreman. “And finally”, concluded the clerk, “In respect to the charge of robbing the National Westminster Bank 27 The Vale Shepherds Bush on 23rd July 2012, do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?” “Not guilty” replied the foreman.

The defendant’s friends and family jumped for joy and hugged each other, did some ‘high-fives’ and slapped the defendant on the back.

The defendant’s barrister turned to him and said “So how do you feel about the verdict?”

The rather bewildered defendant looked up at the barrister and replied “Does it mean I can keep the money, or do I have to give it back?”    

These three are from British comedian Tim Vine

  • Crime in multi-storey car parks? That is wrong on so many levels!
  • I met a gangster who pulls up the back of people’s pants. It was Weggie Kray.
  • I rang up British Telecom and said: “I want to report a nuisance caller.” He said: “Not you again.”

Nice work if you can get it!

There is a car park outside an English Zoo for 150 cars and 8 buses.  For 25 years, it was managed by a most pleasant attendant.  The parking fees were £1.40 a day for cars and £7 for coaches.  Then, one day, after 25 years without a single day off the attendant didn’t turn up for work.  A concerned member of the Zoo management team called the local authority and asked them to send down a replacement attendant. 

Later in the day the council rang back the Zoo and told them that the car park was the Zoo’s responsibility.  The Zoo replied that the car park attendant was a council employee, but the council representative said that they had never employed the man and didn’t know who he was.

Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere in Northern Cyprus (or wherever) sipping champagne, is the man who'd installed the ticket machine, maintained it and emptied it of about £500 a day!   That’s about £4.5 million in total – nice one!

How the elderly summon the police in Mississippi

An elderly man called George living in Meridian, Mississippi was just going up to bed when his wife told him that he’d left the light on in the shed.  He opened the back door to go down the garden when he noticed there were people in the shed thieving from him.

George phoned the police who asked him if the thieves were in his house.  He said “No, but they’ve broken into the shed and are stealing from me.”  The police informed George that all their police patrols were currently assigned, so he should lock his doors and an officer will be along as soon as one became available.

George hung up and counted to 30, then phoned again.

"Hello”, said George “I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people stealing things from my shed?  Well, you don't have to worry about them now because I’ve just shot them both and the dogs are eating them.”  With that, he hung up again.

Within four minutes six patrol cars, a SWAT team, a helicopter, an ambulance, two fire trucks, a team of detectives, the Deputy Chief of Police and a paramedic turned up at George’s house and duly caught the thieves red-handed and uninjured.

The Deputy Chief said to George, "I thought you said that you'd shot them!"

George said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

How to shock the residents of Tennant Creek

Police in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, recently announced the discovery of an arms cache of 20 semi-automatic rifles, 25,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 anti-tank missiles, 4 grenade launchers, 5 kilos of heroin, and $1 million in used Australian banknotes;  all in the back room of a housing commission house behind the Tennant Creek public library.

Local residents were stunned.  A community spokesperson said, "We're shocked. We never knew we had a bloody Library!"

Who had the last laugh?

A motorist in Tampa, Florida was sent a $50 speeding fine together with a photograph of his speeding car with him at the wheel.  The clever git thought it would be amusing to send a photograph of a $50 bill to pay the fine until the police sent him back a photograph of some handcuffs!

It's who you know

A traffic policeman in America pulled over an elderly woman driver for making an illegal right turn.  On inspecting her driving licence he said “Excuse me Madam, but it says on your licence that you should be wearing glasses to correct your vision” She answered “ No, no, no officer, you don’t understand, I’ve got contacts”  The somewhat annoyed policeman replied “I don’t care who you might know, you’re still getting a ticket!”