Staying safe during darker winter months

While crime levels in our area are at historically low levels, people can reduce the likelihood of being a victim of home security crime with some simple good housekeeping measures.

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With darker nights and the clocks moving back an hour, police throughout Argyll and Bute are offering advice on two types of crime that often cause the most concern – how to protect your home against intruders and how to keep yourself safe when out and about.

While crime levels in our area are at historically low levels, it is still the case that people can reduce the likelihood of being a victim of crime. In relation to home security some simple good housekeeping measures can help to counter opportunist thieves.

On many occasions criminals don’t actually have to use force to break in at all because a door or window has been left insecure.

Don’t leave keys in doors or in easy to find locations – in particular car keys are often found with the result that householder’s cars are stolen in addition to property from the home.

Cash, jewellery and small electrical items are most commonly stolen – so avoid keeping large sums of money and consider a secure storage location for all such valuable items.

Security lighting, alarms and good quality locks are a big deterrent and police stress that being a good neighbour and reporting any suspicious activity is also vital.

Inspector Mark Stephen also draws attention to unexpected callers, who often claim to be from a utility company or the council and wish access to your home for some reason.

He said: ‘These criminals can be very convincing but people should not feel any obligation to let them in. Ask for identification, call the company they claim to be from to confirm. If in any doubt call the police by dialling 101 and we will attend. However if you feel threatened or scared, immediately call 999. We would much rather attend a false alarm than have someone fall victim to doorstep crime.’

In terms of staying safe when out and about, again your chances of becoming a victim of crime are low, but in general terms advice is to plan your journey, carry a charged mobile phone and be mindful of your surroundings and look confident about where you are going. Be aware that the use of headphones can make you less aware of what is happening around you. Stick to well lit, busy areas and avoid alleyways, parks or waste ground.

Inspector Stephen stresses that stranger attacks are very rare, saying: ‘Argyll & Bute is a safe place to live and work. If you have any particular concerns, officers are happy to provide guidance and reassurance. Our website contains lots of very useful advice, or if you prefer please call 101 and ask for a local officer to contact you.