The use of Geographical Information Systems has developed enormously over the last few years across all aspects of our lives. For us in the Police Service its main use is in Crime Mapping and analysis allowing us to be more specific in where we place our preventative patrols both in location and timing , including the time of year. Yes, there are seasonal crimes – Theft of Hanging baskets in Spring, burglaries through open windows in Summer and stolen motor cars on cold, freezing mornings in Winter.
It comes to as a bit of a surprise to some people but every year winter comes along and occassionally here in the West Midlands the weather turns a little bit chilly, freezing up cars overnight. For most of us this is straightforward, scrape the car and head off. But some motorists it seems take the option of switching on the engine and leaving the car to warm up on its own on the drive whilst they pop back inside for another cup of tea. Not surprisingly some offenders have caught on to this idea as well and every time we get a freeze we have reports of cars stolen off driveways while the owner has left them defrosting. It only takes a few seconds and your car is gone. The conversation with the insurance company is likely to be just as short once you try and explain what happened. Your insurance is most probably void because you left the keys in the ignition. Every year there are people thousands of pounds out of pocket because they thought that it wouldnt happen to them.
We do look at weather forcasts as well as offenders and plan our patrols to tackle this problem, patrolling local streets and housing areas in the mornings to target offenders and motorists alike but the simplest answer is not to leave the car running and unattended (that goes for petrol forecourts as well).
The Police came calling
or are you Safe and Well?
Reading back over some of our recent posts on Twitter I noticed a bit of a recurring theme, the Safe and Well issue; instances where concern has been raised for one reason or another about the safety of someone. Last post I mentioned how sometimes we can go on futile searches for people who really don’t want us to be involved or the concerns were ‘misplaced’. This week we had a couple of incidents where our concern for the safety of the people involved was such that I authorised the officers to force entry into the homes of these individuals. It’s not normal to force our way into someones home but one of the most basic roles of a Police Officer is to ‘save life and limb’.
So on the information that we had it was essential that we find these people quickly. Clearly when you go to someones front door looking for them the first thing you do is knock and then you knock a little bit louder and then louder and louder. It’s when there is no reply as the knocks get more extreme that you really start to worry. There then comes the point when the door has to be forced, this in itself is not a quiet process! So at this one address in Halesowen we have officers breaking down a very substantial door, most of the neighbourhood has turned out to see what all the comotion and noise is about but entry is finally gained. Yes, you probably guessed where this was going, there sitting on the sofa is our ‘subject’, watching telly with his mate! They had thought all the noise was at a neighbours …. well at least we had found him, Safe and Well.
Our other incident, this time over in Stourbridge again involved a lady who had not been to work, had not been seen recently and family could not get in touch with her. Again officers went to the address and after much knocking, ringing phones (and hearing them ring inside the flat) decided they needed to go in. Fortunatly this time no real damage to the door and again sitting there on the sofa watching Telly was our lady but this time with headphones on! She had decided to have a few days of ‘me time’ and forget everyone else! At least she didnt disturb the neighbours with a loud TV.
On the other hand not long after we finished dealing with these incidents we got a call from a man in Dudley stating that he had just walked past a house and could hear a woman screaming inside and he was really worried for her safety. So officers are sent but the man calls back a few minutes later to say he went back past the house and now could hear gunfire and explosions – and that he “felt a bit silly” as it was obviously a very loud TV! Pity the neighbours.
When we are doing these sorts of enquiries it’s always a relief to find the person Safe and Well (whatever the circumstances), it doesnt always work out like that but most times it does.
Thats it for the moment but please please do remember not to lose your car.