Police “burgle” insecure homes in West Hampstead

�Officers from Fortune Green’s Safer Neighbourhood Team are climbing through the windows of unsecured homes to alert residents to the fact they could have been burgled.

As part of an initiative to reduce burglaries, the SNT police officers are committing faux break-ins across West Hampstead, locking up the property and leaving a calling card to notify the owner they have been there.

On one occasion, a lone female was startled when a uniformed officer walked into her living room after climbing in through an open bedroom window.

After the initial shock, police said she was grateful when they gave her some crime prevention advice and some cheap tips on how to make her home safer.

The drive – codenamed Operation Poppins – has also involved an increase in the number of covert patrols, which have seen cold-callers and ‘officials’ challenged about their identities.

Meanwhile, any suspicious people hanging around the area are being stopped and asked to account for their presence.

Fortune Green SNT says as a result an intelligence picture is being built up, with local neighbourhood watch schemes regularly passing and disseminating information.

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In addition, highly visible crime prevention signs have been posted on street lamps in Fordwych Road and a wave of publicity material and prevention packs are being delivered to homes.

PC Adam Owers, of Fortune Green SNT, said: “People don’t realise how quickly a burglary can take place and most residents are surprised when we tell them how little it would cost to make their homes safer.

“Burglars are creatures of habit, they are opportunist, and they prey on the easy target.

“Operation Poppins is all about raising people’s awareness and, if they see something suspicious, letting them recognise they can tackle it head-on by calling the police and the local SNT. Likewise, if you’re worried about security, call the SNT and we will visit you.”

As an extra measure, Fortune Green SNT is also working with Railtrack, Camden Council and housing associations to make repairs to residents homes and make it more difficult for burglars to get in.

n Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour is asked to contact Fortune Green SNT on 020-8721 2698 or on 0300 123 1212, or to dial 999.