Neighbourhood Watch Oct - Dec. 2003


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Reported Crime Figures for October 2003 :

Burglaries from Dwellings 1
Burglaries from Sheds , Garages, etc 0
Thefts of Motor Vehicles 1
Thefts from Motor Vehicles 8
Criminal Damage to Property 3

The rise in Thefts from Motor Vehicles is very worrying. Now that we are in the run up to Christmas, PLEASE do put all your purchases and valuables out of sight from
prying eyes.
After Christmas, make sure that boxes are crushed down so as not to advertise what goodies we were given, and what is available for the burglar.

I have been requested by the Police to notify Villagers that they recently did a Speed Test in Piercing Hill, and that the results were disappointing.
85% of drivers leaving the Village via Piercing Hill, were travelling at 40 mph, and 85% of drivers entering the Village were travelling at 45 mph (15mph too fast ).
Tickets have already been issued, and will continue to be.

Finally, if you vacate your house at night, or after dark, please leave a light showing.

May I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

Caroline Law

Monday 1st December 2003 – Friday 12th December 2003

The DVLA Hotline for untaxed vehicles is 08000325202
Essex County Council’s Trading Standards Hotline 08456044466
CRIMESTOPPERS 0800 555 111


Last year, just after Christmas, we arrested a team of burglars who had hit the jackpot at every house they entered. At the time we thought that they were either very lucky or very good. From the interview with them we learnt that they would drive around housing estates noting what the empty Christmas boxes were that were placed outside for the dustman. It was ‘So Easy’ for them!! The answer to this is so simple – brake up your boxes – get some extra bin bags in – I guess that they were not the only team using this method.

Whilst on the subject of dustbins, can I just remind you about bin dipping? This is where people go through your dustbins looking for your old till receipts and letters with your personal information on so that it can be used for fraud. This practice has not gone away so shred this information; it could save you a lot of problems in the future. .

If you are still stuck for Christmas presents to loved ones then please do not forget a course of advance driving with the use of a skidpan. Not only can the experience of a skidpan save your life but it is also fun. Phone Kenny Roberts on 01992 522287 and get a quote, it is not as expensive as you might think.

Whilst on the subject of Christmas – your home is like an Aladdin’s Cave for burglars leading up to Christmas Day. Just take a few minutes to think about your house security. Just take a walk down the road and see if you guess who is at home and who is at work. The darker it gets the easier it is.

Can somebody walk down the side of your property and gain access to the rear? 95% of burglars gain access to your property from the rear.

If you are concerned about yours then speak to me before wasting your money or various devices. If you can’t talk to me then the Crime Reduction Officers 1) Jody Greenfield at Brentwood 2) Tony Ellis at Epping; are very good at their job and love spending your money. There have been a lot of burglaries lately so really think about it.


When reporting incidents to the police please remember to get an incident number. We use a number that will include STORM (which is the name of the computer) then the day’s reference number followed by the date. So it should be Storm/i.e.346/date as an example. These jobs can be followed up then at any stage and you will also need the number for Insurance purposes. Don’t be talked out of this number – it is important because once this job has been logged then we have an official incident for that area and the local officer, if he has been out or off duty, will then know what is going on when he returns to work and checks the system. .


There have been four Post Office Robberies in the Herts Essex border area recently.

1) 1615hrs Wednesday 22nd October High Street, Hoddesdon, Herts

2) 14.23hrs Monday 3rd November High Wych, Herts

3) 14.50hrs Friday 7th November Theydon Bois, Essex

4) 12.10hrs Wednesday 12th November High Street, Chipping Ongar, Essex

Each of these had a number of common features and it is thought that the same person has committed them. The Offender approaches post office counter and grabs customer (usually female) from behind by gripping left shoulder and holding a pistol to the customer’s head. Demands are made for money with threat to shoot made. The offender is male, white aged about 20-30years. An old faded red Vauxhall Astra estate was used on the last of these offences. If you were about these locations at the stated time or can help in any way please let me know. Thanks.


As requested - The Law relating to Mobile Phones prevents you from having control of the phone from within your hand. You can use an earpiece etc. I shall have some leaflets very soon if you wish to go deeper into the act. There is nothing in the legislation about seizing the phone but I would guess that if the use of the mobile became an issue at the scene then this may well occur.


Many of you claim discount on your house insurance by stating that you belong to a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Do you know who your Co-ordinator is? Could you answer questions about your group if your Insurance Company asked? Recently, a man tried to make a claim on his house insurance but was unable to answer these questions. He did have a neighbourhood watch window sticker (it was there when he bought the house) and he knew there were neighbourhood watch street signs erected in the road but he had no idea who ran the group and to make matters even worse, he was unaware that the group had folded when the Co-ordinator had died two years before. Oops!! You can imagine what happened to his claim?

It is not difficult to run these groups, if you are interested then please either call in at the mobile police station or phone me. If you work all day, newsletters can be left for you. Recently, a request for co-ordinators went out at West Horndon. One lady replied by leaving a message on my mobile. I was unable to hear those details so if she is reading this could she contact me again please.


Essex County Council’s Trading Standards Department deal with many of our day to day problems i.e. Vehicles parked up for sale on the roadside, bogus callers and cold callers, tarmac companies and so on. They also have a Hotline that you can use for advice. It is 08456044466 and it will be on show on each newsletter from now on.


There are still lots of you receiving letters from various agencies trying to get you to part with your money. Some companies require you to ring them to claim your prize. Don’t. It will cost you a lot of money – they use business lines. Others require you to send a cheque so that your huge cash prize can clear customs. The list is endless and I have tried to keep you aware of most of them during this year. Do not get caught out – you get nothing free in this world - don’t part with your money.


I have never had as many complaints about fireworks as I have had this year. There is little I can do other than ask those of you who feel strong enough about the subject to right to your MP at The House of Commons. They are talking about changing the law so make him earn his money!!

17th November – 28th November 2003
The DVLA Hotline for untaxed vehicles is 08000325202
CRIMESTOPPERS 0800 555 111

Before all of you rush out at Christmas and buy your youngsters ‘Gopeds’ just be warned that they are not legal on the road or footpaths and that you are heading towards the courts if you allow this vehicle to be used. They can only be used on private property and with then only with the owner’s permission because he does require third party insurance. Gopeds are the two-wheeled scooters with small engines on the back. Electric and petrol are both illegal.

Having spoken to DVLA about reporting untaxed vehicles I thought it would be easy for you all just to pick up the phone and call the Hotline. But – I was wrong. DVLA forgot to tell me that Essex does not fall into this system until February 2004. I have had loads of calls about this problem and when I spoke to the Hotline folk again – so had they!! To make matters worse, they had told you all to ring Chelmsford DVLA and, being really helpful, gave you all Chelmsford’s phone number. I rang this Chelmsford number myself and it took twelve minutes to go through a wonderful system of ‘ Your call is important to us’ routine and please select a number. When you select the option you get more options, and when you have chosen another option you get more. I am not joking either. Then, when you finally get to the office you want – wait for it !! – you have an answering machine telling you to write in with the details. Ha!! So, I have been back onto the Hotline folk. What we have agreed is this – you can use the Hotline number BUT YOU have to ask them to forward your report to Chelmsford. This they will do for you but YOU have to ask them. So, if there is a vehicle in your road that is untaxed - index number, colour, make, location and owner please to the Hotline. Good luck and isn’t life fun?? ALSO – the vehicle must be on the Highway – not private land.

Two problems – the first I wasn’t going to mention because it had only been a problem in the north of the country but as it made the front page of a national newspaper this week then you should know now about it because it will now spread to this area. Road accidents are being planned for false Insurance Claims. The vehicle in front will suddenly stop very quickly causing the following driver, normally elderly or alone, to collide with that vehicle. The driver will appear slightly injured, whiplash etc. It is not unknown to have a friendly witness standing nearby. The second scam involves mobile phones. If you receive a text message on your mobile from the number 15477 indicating that you have won a two night stay in the Druid’s Marriot in Wicklow, delete it immediately. It will tell you to reply with the text “#90” or “#09”. Do not reply. This is a fraud company using a special device and once you press the “#90” or “#09” they can access your Sim Card and make calls at your expense. I would even advise you to take care if you are asked to use any unusual dialling codes

(Monday 20th October – Friday 31st October 2003)


I wish to make you aware of an incident recently involving a School Crossing Patrol. This particular school crossing patrol works alongside a Pelican Crossing so when she needs to stop the traffic and let the children cross the road it is easy to push the Crossing’s button and use the ‘Green Man’. The children have been taught to cross the road only when the Green Man is showing so this system works very well. One day it almost went wrong.

The children usual crowd at the side of the road and when the Green Man shows the school crossing patrol then walks into the centre of the road and then allows the children to cross. They cross and she then walks back to the side of the road. As she walks back the traffic then normally starts to proceed. On this occasion she walked back to the side of the road but the Green Man was still showing. A young child came running up, saw the Green Man, and then began to cross the road just as the traffic began to move.

The child was not hurt but I just wish to confirm that motorists should not move until both Green Man and School Crossing Patrol have finished their task. This was a one off I’m sure.


There has been a recent increase in complaints received concerning Bogus Data protection notification companies. Individuals posing as ‘collectors on behalf of data protection’ are attending business premises requesting payment for registrations. This also applies to correspondence being received by members of the public for payments for up to £95 + VAT. The statutory notification fee is only £35. Again, be warned. Do not give your money away!!

There are also many scams arriving through the post. There are too many of them – (many of which I have seen) - to list here but they all share one thing in common. They want your money. They either want you to send them a cheque for the wonderful prize you have won – or – to ring them (and this may be a message left on your answer machine). Both are bad ideas. If you ring them it will cost you loads of money and if you send them a cheque you will not see it again.

You get nothing free in this world – ignore them. Dustbin is best place. You can inform Essex County Council’s Trading Standards Department if you so wish.


I must ask you to take a little extra care this time of year because of deer. It is that time of year again and they do tend to cross the road when you least expect them. If you saw the Epping Guardian the other week you will have seen the picture of a deer that crashed through the windscreen of a car. It ended up on the passenger seat. It is also more than possible that the crossing deer is not alone – where there is one a hundred will follow!!

Whilst on the subject of roads – can I again ask you 1) if your son or daughter has a paper-round, then as a parent, please check the lights on their cycle and make sure that a reflective jacket of some sort is worn so that they can be seen 2) if you are a motorist – then please be aware of those who ignore all sensible requests and cross the road in the early hours of the morning in dark clothing and on cycles with no lights. Thanks.

There have been some wildlife issues recently and there have been some heavy fines following court cases involving pesticides, bird egg collections, Larsen Traps (Magpie traps) and Caterpillar, Butterfly and Moth collectors. The costs in one case were £5,000. I am aware that wildlife can sometimes cause problems, i.e. Mink attacks etc. So, if you want advice then please ask me. I have contacts within DEFRA and can help. Also, if you have information, which involves illegal collectors, or those that use pesticides, then again, please contact me.


Thanks to those of you who replied to my article about advanced driving. If you are interested in that and driving on skidpans etc then call 01992-522287 who are based on North Weald Airfield. Not many of you know how it feels to lose control of a vehicle and this course make well give you that experience and may well save your life.


Some time ago and in trying to overcome the bogus official and cold-call workman problem I made reference that obtaining estimates first before agreeing to work being carried out would be one way to stop unscrupulous traders taking advantage of you. Following that, a very helpful letter has arrived from a neighbourhood watch gent in Ongar. He makes the point that, If you ask for an estimate it is just that. The trader can still charge you more because it is only an estimate. What you should be asking for is a ‘Quotation’. To quote from his letter, “ Unfortunately, such is the nature of commerce, a quotation usually works out higher than an estimate for the same work because a supplier, knowing that he is committed, allows a bit for the unexpected. What it boils down to is that if you ask for an ‘estimate’ then the risk is yours, if you ask for a ‘quotation’ then the risk is the suppliers” Sounds like very good advice to me.


Do you work in a small shop or office? If you do you will know that its often common practice to leave the back door unlocked so that employees can nip for a quick smoke. The thief knows this and he also knows that the staff rooms and the canteens are usually located at the back of the premises. So he prowls around the back of parades of shops or offices looking for the opportunity to slide in, search a couple of staff handbags for purses and make off without trace. Unlikely? No. We get two or three of these types of offences every week locally.


Some time ago a Crown Court Judge made mention of the wonderful work that Willingale Residents and Neighbourhood Watch Groups had made following the arrests of a team of dwelling burglars. They had supplied good information for us to work on. Navestock are suffering from a number of burglaries recently and have begun to pull together. One interesting fact to come of this information pot was the sighting of a Red Farm Tractor. This vehicle had been seen a number of times around the edges of fields and suitable targets. It does not live locally and appears to be involved in these crimes. Can you help with more information? Have you seen such a vehicle?

Essex Police have their own web site. This covers such subjects as local crime, requests for information, job vacancies, unsolved cases and so on. Have a look; you may be able to help.

Monday 6th October – Friday 17th October


This problem I have raised before but we do need your help. Many of our Senior Citizens do not trust banks and therefore keep money at home. One lady I knew used to keep all her newspapers stacked in one corner of the house and she used to hide her cash between the pages. She had thousands of pounds hidden this way but of course bogus officials also know about these places. These people also worked in groups and distract the elderly. They knock at the front door and enter via the back door. I know it is against all our principles to lock doors, especially on a nice day but please, you must consider this.

The problem we face is that senior citizens grew up in a time when it was safe to leave doors open and it is hard to get them to change their values. The saddest thing is that often they end blaming them themselves for being conned – they think it is their own fault for being frail. I know it is hard work and difficult but we must keep on at them.

The other problem is that their property does need repairing from time to time. Recently one gent was charged – well – frightened really - into paying three times for the same job. He was to frightened to say No. Letting unknown and untested workmen into your home has problems. Another senior citizen had her valuables stolen by workmen and she was unaware of this for a long time. Sentimental items were not something she did not use every day because of her age. If you need work done then ask friends, family, neighbours who they have used.


Further to the last newsletter regarding untaxed vehicles. If you wish to report an untaxed vehicle anonymously then you can do so on DVLA’s Hotline 08000325202 . I have spoken to them, they seem to be very friendly and helpful, and all you will require is Index Number, Location, Colour and Make. Now, sometimes this vehicle will not be registered and it may be that you know where the owner lives. This information would also be useful along with times when the owner uses it. DVLA will watch the vehicle at these said times.


Hare coursing is on the increase across Essex and we have also noticed that other types of crime such as Burglary occur when illegal coursing gangs are in the area. These gangs turn up in vans with several people jumping out of the back with their dogs. Normally you will see at least six dogs and they will walk into the field with thirty yards between each dog and when the hare bolts the dogs are released. The season is from 1st October until the end of February. These people are known to be violent so please do not approach them. Pc Robin Hance is the Wildlife Officer and advice, if required, can be obtained from him on 07968354018.


I must also warn you again about telephone scams again. You will recall the American Customs Scam? You are told that you have won their Lottery and that Customs will require a small cheque from you to clear the winning cheque. The latest one is the Insurance Payout. You have a cheque awaiting you for a policy payout but that you need to send a cheque to clear the big one. You all know that you get nothing for free in this world – don’t get caught out. You have worked hard for your cash – don’t give it away. You may well laugh but you would be surprised at the number of people who do get caught out.

This also refers to people who call at your front door. It may well be sponsorship for a local event or even school children for some special task they are involved in. If you do wish to involve yourselves in helping school children then ask them what school they are from and phone the school. Ask a few questions before handing over money, they will return if it is genuine. Some people make a lot of money out of this type of scam.


It is coming to that time of year when you decide to travel to London, Lakeside, and Bluewater etc for your Christmas Shopping. Last year a number of you lost wallets, purses whilst on these trips. Also, a number of you had your bank accounts cleaned out by people watching you at the Hole in the Wall Machines. I shall go on and on about this subject but take a few minutes now to plan ahead. Do not have your house keys and your home address in the same place. I use Sentinel Card Services as a back up. I keep their telephone number separate and if I do lose everything then I can cancel everything within minutes of the discovery. I have used it and it does work. If you must use these Hole in the Wall Machines then make sure there are two of you together with one watching your back. Make sure nobody puts a chalk mark on your back or any other type of identifying mark on you. When you have paid for an item at the till – do not leave the till area until you have replaced your card, cash etc in your purse. Do not walk off into the exit area still trying to put items back into your purse/wallet. Make the queue wait until you have completed this task.


This is a true story and was the 1st place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.

A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, and then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued.... And won!

In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The Judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be "unacceptable fire" and was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires".

NOW FOR THE BEST PART... After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.

Chris Caten
CRIMESTOPPERS 0800 555 111
E-mail: - Chris Caten
Mobile - 07715771603

Rural Police Unit
BeatMobile Visits

The next visits of the Beatmobile to Theydon Bois are on Thursday 20th November & Thursday 18th December from 10.00am - 12.00am


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Last Up Dated: 23rd January 2004