What is it like to be a victim of vehicle crime?


A local resident speaks about their experience of vehicle crime to raise awareness around this kind of crime and how something as simple as a jacket left on a seat can make your car a target.


Can you start by giving me a brief outline of what happened?

I was going into town for dinner and parked on a busy road at around quarter past eight in the evening.  I came back around nine o’clock and didn’t realise anything was wrong at first.  It was only when I got back into the car that I saw the broken glass and realised the front passenger window had been smashed. My jacket and sports bag had been taken and when I looked into my glove compartment, I realised my satnav was also gone.


How did you leave your car?

I’m pretty careful about leaving things in my car.  I always leave my satnav in my glove compartment and I usually leave anything else in the boot of my car.  The only reason I didn’t this time is because I was parked very close to the car behind me and couldn’t open the boot.  I didn’t think it would matter too much as it was a busy road, I wasn’t going to be gone for long and it was still early.  I pushed my sports bag under the front seat and just left my jacket on the seat.  I didn’t think they’d be the kind of thing anyone would try and steal – there was nothing valuable in either of them.


Why do you think your car was targeted?

I think it was someone just walking down the street, saw the jacket, and took the opportunity given to them.  It’s possible they also realised that there was a satnav in the car as it leaves marks on the windscreen.  The street was very busy, but I suppose it just needs a few seconds when no-one is around.  Another car a little further down the road also had its window smashed.


What impact has this had on you?

It was completely unexpected and at the time I was quite shocked.  The damage to the window is covered by my insurance, but I still have to pay the excess on it.  Plus, I’ve lost two days work as I need my car to be able to commute.  I just bought my satnav and although it’s also covered by insurance, the excess means it isn’t worth claiming for.  More concerning is that my home address is on my satnav, so I’ve warned my housemates and have double checked our home security – just in case.  I also had some paperwork for my new job in my sports bag.  Luckily I hadn’t filled it in yet, so it didn’t have my bank details or national insurance number on it.  However, whoever took my bag now knows my name, home address, my job description, salary and where I work.  I always shred all personal documentation before I throw it away, so I am not too worried about identity fraud, but I am still concerned that someone has this information about me.


Do you have any advice for other people?

Don’t make the same mistake I did and assume that this is something that won’t happen to you.  I’ve lived in Cambridge for 15 years and never had this happen before.  It’s just bad luck – being in the wrong place at the wrong time – but it’s worth being aware that it’s always a possibility and taking a minute to make sure that your car is safe.



Follow the 6 steps below to minimise the risk of vehicle crime:

  • Remove all valuables from sight. Ideally take them with you, if not put them in the boot.  Don’t leave bags under seats.  Thieves know where to look and it’s a sign that there might be something valuable in it.
  • Remove signs of valuables being in your car. Hide charger cables for your phone or satnav as well as the cradles and the marks they leave.
  • Remove all jackets, clothing and bags. Even if you know nothing of value is inside, a thief doesn’t.
  • Check that you have locked your car properly by testing the door handle. We regularly receive reports of thefts from insecure vehicles.
  • Make your parking spaces secure. Report faulty streetlights. If you have a designated parking space consider installing CCTV or motion sensor lighting.
  • Protect your valuables. Marking your valuables with easily identifiable information and registering them on www.imobilise.com will make them easier to identify if they are stolen.

Door step safety


Please be aware there have been some recent incidents of burglary across South Cambridgeshire where older/ retired residents have been targeted. In some of these cases the offenders gained entry to the person’s home via an insecure door or window.  If you are at home always check your doors and windows are secure and locked before you go to answer the door.

Always check before you allow someone into your home. Think are you expecting anyone to call?
Use a side window or spy-hole to check the identity of the caller, before opening the door.

Door-chains or door-bars can be useful but only when used correctly, a door-chain is there to give you the  opportunity to check the callers details. It should not be engaged until you go to answer the door (some people get into bad habits leaving their door-chain on all the time, and then take the chain off to answer the door). Keep an eye out for older/ vulnerable residents in your community and contact the police if you feel it’s appropriate (see when to call below).

Not sure? Don’t open the door.

Selling door to door remains a popular way of trying to drum up business. Despite the explosion of internet sales, social media and email, talking face to face is still a popular way to sell.


As the Internet and social media help communities spread crime prevention advice, we are now inundated by messages about scams and confidence tricks. So who should we trust? When reading letters, email, or shopping online we can take time to decide who we trust, research our choices and make a decision. One of the reasons that door step selling works for retailers is that it puts residents in a position where they must decide on the spot about a purchase.

So what’s the answer? Firstly, make the choice not to buy or sell anything on your door step. Most traders or sales persons will leave if you tell them this. You may need to resist the natural urge to be polite, and close the door as many sales persons will continue to talk despite your verbal refusal to buy or sell.
If anyone makes any kind of attempt to enter your home without being invited or refuses to leave call 999 immediately and tell them “I am calling the Police”.

Cambridgeshire Trading Standards recommends that you should not buy on your doorstep; if you make the choice to allow people to sell to you it is important to consider who is knocking at your door:

Sales persons/ reps – who do not ask for money up front; but maybe looking to sign you up to a commitment such as a broad band package or an energy supplier. There should always be an opportunity to cancel a contract within 7 days in any circumstances. Most of the major energy and telecommunications companies do not employ people directly to sell door to do. Do not expect to see identification from agents working on behalf of other companies, our advice is not to engage with these people as there is no way to verify who they are. Some mobile phone companies have previously, allowed third parties to work door to door to sell their products without any formal identification or accreditation. There is no fast way of finding out who they are by calling, so again we are forced to recommend that you do not engage with them. Companies such as British gas will only dispatch a sales person to your house if you phone as ask for quote. This is a far safer way of ensuring the person you are talking to is genuine.

A hawker or pedlar – a salesperson who is selling door to door and requires immediate payment (often selling small items such as dusters etc). This is a licensed activity, and anyone doing this must have a licence and produce it to you. If the sales person does not provide a licence, call 101 to report these persons and Police will attend and the pedlar may be prosecuted for not having the correct licence.

A rogue trader – someone (often known to the Police or trading standards) providing sub standard work or who tries to charge far in excess of the value of services they provide. They are often referred to as con-men. In general concerns should be reported to Cambridgeshire Trading Standards on 0345 404 0506, they will deal with any transaction over £42. These types of transaction require the trader to give you a 14 day cancellation period and a notice on how to cancel. If there is no 14 day notice provided then the trader could be prosecuted and the contract is unenforceable. If you feel a person is trying to “con” you by asking for money on the door step for work they have undertaken then call 999.

There are a number of reputable, honest and accredited door to door sales persons. For the elderly, infirm and vulnerable it is very difficult to say no for a number of reasons.

The best approach to take is not to buy or sell anything at the door step.

not buying

Further information:

www.consumerhub.org Led by the Citizens Advice Bureaux – find out more about protecting yourself from scammers, rogue traders and irresponsible lenders. Consumerhub is a partnership led by Cambridge CAB, working with Cambridgeshire Trading Standards and other organisations in the county to provide consumer advice and information to the county’s residents. We can also alert people to scams that are affecting local communities, to make sure that they are less likely to be exploited.

Another online resource is www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk a government site which aims to put residents in contact with reputable traders.

When to call the police

If you are suspicious or feel the caller may be bogus

If someone forces entry or enters your home without permission

You notice valuable or money missing shortly after someone has visited

Whenever you think a crime has been, or is about to be committed.

LSD Alert

Last Thursday evening, the 9th of July, officers were called to support ambulance staff at Byron’s Pool in Grantchester where 4 young males who had taken liquid LSD were found in varying states of distress and confusion. One was being physically restrained by a parent who had been called to the scene by worried friends. All four were in a very vulnerable state and they were taken to hospital for treatment. They have subsequently told us that they had bought the drug from a local dealer who had put the liquid LSD on  sweets for each of them to eat.

This alert is to highlight the risks of taking LSD, which is potentially more potent in liquid form. Without the intervention of friends and family, and then the work of the emergency services, this situation could easily have ended in tragedy. It was clear that the perception of risk and reality of all four males was severely distorted by the drug.

The supplier has not been identified and we ask anyone with information to contact us so we can prevent further incidents of this nature. Anyone with information should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111

Police Contact Point at Morrison’s Cambourne

The Police Contact point will be operating this Saturday 13th June 2015 in the foyer of Morrison’s supermarket at Broad Street Cambourne, between 6 and 8 pm.

A local officer will be available to talk with you about any concerns you have about the local area, they will also have information about the ongoing Operation Oakland, which is aimed at keeping you safe in your homes by using simple battery alarms, the “Immobilise” website, and using Smart water to mark your property.

Please come along and find out how to sign up to “E-cops” the force messaging system as well as information on the alarms, Immobilise and Smartwater.

Should you not be able to attend there are some cards in the holders attached to the Police information sign together with a small post box for you to request contact at a later date.

Looking forward to meeting you on the night.


PCSO David Jackson

Cambourne Police Station



Catalytic converter thefts from delivery vans

In the past 48 hrs there have been a total of six catalytic convertors stolen from delivery vans at a commercial business in Bar Hill, and also from a business in Waterbeach South Cambridgeshire.

The vehicles targeted are Mercedes Sprinter vans.

The sprinter van is a very popular fleet van, used by most delivery companies, van hire companies and supermarkets amongst others.

A catalytic converter controls and converts exhaust emissions from your vehicle into less toxic substances. They are being stolen and sold for the re-sale value of the four precious metals from which they are made.

Security advice

  • If you see anyone working under vehicles, and they are acting suspiciously, report it to the police
  • For business fleets, consider good quality, strong perimeter fencing and try defensive parking (If you have a fleet of vehicles, block those with high ground clearance using vehicles with low clearance to obstruct access underneath the vehicle). Install and monitor CCTV and / or compound alarm systems
  • Mark your catalytic converter with a marking and registration system (e.g. www.retainagroup.com). Alternatively contact your local police team by phoning 101 to find out when the next catalytic converter marking day is taking place in your area
  • Fix a catalytic converter security device (e.g. ‘Cat Clamp Maxx’ available from www.catsafe.org.uk). Or contact your local garage who may offer bespoke security fittings, such as clamps and cages for catalytic convertors.
  • Vehicles with a high ground clearance such as delivery vans are particularly vulnerable.
  • Contact Cambridgeshire Constabulary on 101 for site specific crime prevention advice
  • South Cambs Business Watch Officer, Leanne Fisher said: ” You may not know your catalytic convertor has been stolen because your vehicle’s engine will sound different. A catalytic convertor can be stolen in a matter of seconds and is worth a few hundred pounds in scrap value but the cost to your business can run into the thousands including repairs and disruption’’.
  • www.nsi.org.uk
  • www.securebydesign.com
  • www.soldsecure.com
  • http://www.commandersecurities.uk – also offer security devices for items such as Catalytic converters, they are a Secure by Design approved company.

Operation Oaklands Phase Two – Update

Operation Oaklands – Tackling crime across South Cambs
The format for Operation Oaklands is changing this week; each Neighbourhood Sector team will be covering a village on their beat for a three week period. Three South Cambridgeshire villages will be included at the same time.

Officers will focus on crime prevention measures, and provide security advice to residents in order to combat burglary, vehicle crime and theft.
South Cambridgeshire is a large rural community, and crime analysis has shown the area does not follow an identifiable crime pattern, as you might see in an urban area. Therefore crime prevention and intelligence led patrols are key factors to reduce crime levels.
Regular information and updates will be posted via Ecops (www.ecops.org.uk) and Neighbourhood Watch messaging (http://www.ourwatch.org.uk) as well as on our twitter account http://www.twitter.com/southcambscops
Officers will be offering residents Smartwater property coding kits for a reduced price of £10, plus shed and window alarms at cost price.
Please find below a guide with dates when we will be visiting various villages and towns over the coming months. If you need advice on home, shed or vehicle security and don’t live in the villages listed below, please call 101 and to speak to your local PCSO.
Date Location
30/03/2015 – 19/04/2015 Cottenham, Whittlesford, & Barton

20/03/2015 – 10/05/2015 Bar Hill, Thriplow, & Gamlingay

11/05/2015 -31/05/2015 Longstanton, Great & Little Wilbraham, & Hardwick

01/06/2015- 21/06/2015 Milton, Sawston, & Haslingfield

22/06/2015 – 12/07/2015 Waterbeach, Ickleton & Hinxton, plus Great & Little Eversden

13/07/2015 – 02/08/2015 Girton, Fulbourn, & Harlton

03/08/2015 – 23/08/2015 Landbeach, Balsham, & Guilden Morden, Steeple Morden, + Litlington

N.B. This table will be updated each month, with new information. The deployment of officers may be changed in certain circumstances according to current policing needs.


SmartWater sign unveiled in Elsworth village

Smartwater for South Cambridgeshire villages to ward off burglars


OFFICERS in South Cambridgeshire have been working with residents to put security measures in place to tackle burglary.
As part of Operation Oaklands, a police initiative to improve home security and reduce the risk of burglary, officers have been visiting a number of villages in South Cambridgeshire to offer advice and crime prevention products such as SmartWater property marking kits.
Each village will receive a SmartWater branded sign to advertise the fact that residents have protected their property with SmartWater technology and hopefully deter burglars.
Elsworth was the first village to receive their sign. Community representatives, Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators and parish councillors attended the launch event, along with police and SmartWater staff, at 11am on Monday February 9 2015 in the village.
Rachel Carr, Crime Reduction Officer for South Cambridgeshire, said:

“SmartWater is a unique coding system which has been used by police forces for a number of years, to tackle both commercial and domestic burglary. The product has helped Police forces to reduce domestic burglary by as much as 85% in some areas. It consists of non-toxic solution which can be painted onto virtually any surface. Once dry, under normal light it is not detectable, but under ultraviolet (UV) light it glows bright yellow. A huge benefit is that it is extremely difficult to remove and even the smallest of traces can be analysed to prove ownership of a marked item. Similar to DNA profiling, each unique solution can be identified and authenticated – there are millions of combinations available, each formula will be specific to a customer.
 The system includes a number of warning signs that are placed on doors and windows stickers to warn potential thieves that SmartWater is in use. It has proven to be a very effective deterrent to offenders where other forces have run similar projects.”

Interactive crime prevention

Have you seen the interactive house on the Cambridgeshire Constabulary website?

Interactive Page

Interactive House

From this page you can select specific areas of your home security for detailed advice on how to make it more secure, from general maintenance, installations and tips to British Standard Certifications.Door advice

There’s also a self assessment survey

The survey asks questions about various aspects of the security of your home and then shows you which areas appear to be safe, which areas could do with reviewing and which appear to be unsafe.Self survey

And there are three pages of useful organisations

The useful organisations are broken into three categories, General, Home and Council, providing telephone numbers and/or websites for each.Useful organisations


Have a look at the interactive page, Click  here


SouthCambsCops home security guide


Although crime in South Cambs is low, burglary isn’t rare, so thinking “it’s unlikely to happen to me” is the wrong approach. In fact most months it is usually in the top 2 most commonly occurring crimes in South Cambs. Have a look at the http://www.police.uk crime map to see crime in your area here:

(Histon) http://www.police.uk/cambridgeshire/SCambs_Histon/crime/

(Cambourne) http://www.police.uk/cambridgeshire/SCambs_Cambourne/crime/

(Sawston) http://www.police.uk/cambridgeshire/SCambs_Sawston/crime/

There are a number of simple but effective ways you can reduce the chances of being burgled. Burglars go for easy targets, so make your house a bit more difficult for them.

Here are some tips and recommendations for securing your home:

Burglars don’t usually break in at the front of a house because they are more likely to be seen.

Ideally they want to get to the back of the house. Not being able to get into the back garden could easily be enough for a potential intruder to try another house.

Gate & Fence

• Fit high (6ft) 1.8m side gates with a latch. Having the latch at the top of the gate is a weakness-most burglars know to put their arm over the top to undo the latch so either fit a padlock to it or consider a second bolt further down as well.

• I’ve chased enough burglars over garden fences to know they are well practiced at hopping fences. So if you like gardening, perhaps consider a nice thorny holly bush or adding some trellis to the top of your fence (600mm).  Alternatively, you can also use ‘prickle strips’ to deter a fence hopping burglar. (From personal experience of chasing a burglar over a fence with prickle strips on, I can assure you they really do hurt).


• Secure your shed. It is really common for burglars to break into your shed and then use your own tools to force a door or window of your house. Padlock your shed, don’t leave it open!

• Consider installing a simple, inexpensive, battery operated shed alarm. You can also secure items inside using a ‘shed shackle’ or similar device, see http://www.soldsecure.com for suppliers.

• Properly code items using a paint pen or etching and register items such as mowers and power tools with http://www.immobilise.com  where you can register anything with a serial number and police forces use the system to track stolen property.

Burglar image 1

Simple measures like these can help to deter an intruder before they approach your home.

• Security lights. Yes, these really do work. Read here: https://southcambscops.org/2014/02/21/waterbeach-burglars-convicted/ This pair burgled several houses in one night but turned tail and ran from a house fitted with a simple motion activated security light.

• Light timers are a good deterrent too. Most people don’t get home from work until well after 5pm, but in the winter it gets dark before 4pm. No lights on are an easy way for burglars to locate an unoccupied house.


• CCTV is not as costly as many people believe and can be an effective tool in preventing a break in and at catching those responsible. If CCTV is what you want, I recommend avoiding the dome type cameras, they’re harder to spot and you want a potential intruder to spot the camera and be frightened away. Go for one that stands out. I particularly like the combination of a security light with a camera near it. When the light activates, an intruders’ natural reaction is to look at it. If they see a camera next to it, they will know you just got a shot of their face….and won’t stick around after that.


Window alarms! – My personal favourite. Cheap as chips and super effective. These little devices attach to the inside of a window with adhesive tape and activate an alarm if the window is knocked near deafening the would-be thief. To prove their effectiveness, this guy was foiled by a window alarm: https://southcambscops.org/2014/11/21/gareth-farrington-the-unlucky-burglar-convicted/ You can turn them on/off from the inside with the flick of a switch and often you can adjust the sensitivity. I’ve got these on my ground floor windows and one on my back door too. They’re my top recommendation.

House alarms are not as expensive as you may think. An off the shelf D.I.Y. system will cost between £150 and £200 (also consider fitting an auto-dialler @ £12 which will contact a list of numbers you have programmed in when the alarm is triggered). Monitored alarms for an average size property will typically be between £700 and £800. If you have high value items or you spend a lot of time away from home on holidays or business, it could be worth the investment. Always obtain at least two/ three quotes if you are purchasing a monitored alarm, or having a company install the system for you. Look for approved installers, see http://www.nsi.org.uk or go to S.S.I.A.B. approved installers to ensure the price and service are fair.


Burglar image 2

A few simple steps

• It is really common to find that a burglar has gained access to a house via a French door or patio door because they haven’t been adequately secured. Turning the key usually locks one door to the other. Make sure the second door is bolted too; small (mortice, or shoot-bolts) should go up and down into the door frame.  Also look for hinge bolts on French doors to help secure the hinges, and prevent jemmy attacks.  Patio doors should also be secured at the top and bottom of the opening section, check your patio door cannot be lifted out of the frame using a tool. Patio door locking bars are available, and window alarms can also be used on these doors too.

• Where do you keep your keys? An opened up wire coat hanger can be used to reach your keys and pull them out through the letterbox. Then the burglar can just let himself in or take your car off your drive. Don’t keep your keys anywhere near the doors or windows, they should be well out of view.  Ideally take them up to bed with you at night.

• Everyone keeps their most valuable possessions, jewellery, expensive watches etc. in their bedroom. That’s why most burglars head straight for the master bedroom and go through the wardrobe and drawers. This sort of thing should be hidden away, especially the sentimental things that cannot be replaced. The loft, cupboard under the stairs, kitchen cabinets, the teapot – be imaginative, where wouldn’t a burglar think to look?

• Sometimes when we arrest a burglar we find plenty of stolen goods. But often we can’t return it to the owner because we can’t tell who it belonged to.  For tools and equipment consider marking them clearly using a paint-pen or indelible marker, anything to mark them out as yours, there are also tamper-proof labels available, or etching kits.

• Register your valuables on: https://www.immobilise.com/index.php If you’ve got a nice pedal cycle, be sure to register it on the immobilise website and remember to include the frame number. Immobilise is especially useful for recording more unique items such as jewellery or antiques as you can take digital photos and add them to your online record.

• Encourage your friends to join eCops so they know what is going on in their area.

• If you’re interested in getting involved with Neighbourhood Watch, the first thing to do is check whether there’s a group in your area already. You can do this by checking the national Neighbourhood and home Watch website http://www.ourwatch.org.uk or contacting your area NHW representative by posting a request on the county website http://www.cambsnhw.org.uk

Christmas crime prevention:

  • Tempting gift wrapped presents should not be left on show.
  • Presents should be removed overnight from vehicles. If possible keep them indoors an out of sight.
  • Communities can keep an eye out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and encourage them follow security precautions.
  • Empty boxes which could advertise Christmas purchases inside the house, should not be left on view outside.
  • Once your gifts are unwrapped, they can be registered for free on the Immobilise database http://www.immobilise.com

For more information you might also find the following sites useful:




Operation Oaklands Phase Two – Tackling crime across South Cambs


This week South Cambridgeshire Safer Neighbourhood Team will begin a rolling campaign to reduce domestic burglary and shed burglary throughout the district.

Op Oaklands will concentrate on one village or town each week with uniform staff mobilised in the area. They will focus on crime prevention measures, and provide security advice to residents in order to combat burglary, vehicle crime and theft.
South Cambridgeshire is a large rural community, and crime analysis has shown the area does not follow an identifiable crime pattern, as you might see in an urban area. Therefore crime prevention and intelligence led patrols are key factors to reduce crime levels.
Regular information and updates will be posted via Ecops (www.ecops.org.uk) and Neighbourhood Watch messaging (http://www.ourwatch.org.uk) as well as on our twitter account http://www.twitter.com/southcambscops
Officers will be offering residents Smartwater property coding kits for a reduced price of £10, plus shed and window alarms at cost price.
Please find below a guide with dates when we will be visiting various villages and towns over the coming months. If you need advice on home, shed or vehicle security and don’t live in the villages listed below, please call 101 and to speak to your local PCSO.

Date and Location
03/12/2014 – 07/12/2014 Elsworth
08/12/2014 – 14/12/2014 Bassingbourn
15/12/2014 – 21/12/2014 Histon & Impington
22/12/2014 – 04/01/2015 Coton
05/01/2015 – 11/01/2015 Melbourn
12/01/2015 – 18/01/2015 West Wratting & Weston Colville
19/01/2015 – 25/01/2015 Willingham & Over
26/01/2015 – 01/02/2015 Papworth Everard
02/02/2015 – 08/02/2015 Bourn
09/02/2015 – 15/02/2015 Duxford
16/02/2015 – 22/02/2015 Linton
23/02/2015 – 01/03/2015 Swavesey
02/03/2015 – 08/03/2015 Great & Little Shelford
09/03/2015 – 15/03/2015 Stapleford
16/03/2015 – 22/03/2015 Harston
23/03/2015 – 29/03/2015 Hauxton

N.B. This table will be updated each month, with new information. The deployment of officers may be changed in certain circumstances according to current policing needs.