“Crime relating to financial harm is now so widespread that unless we all work together to tackle it, we will never be able to stop what is fast becoming a tide of criminality which is impacting on our communities on an almost daily basis” explains Chief Inspector Stephen Stiff of Police Scotland.
Speaking at the launch of the Financial Harm Strategy for Dumfries and Galloway, which is an action plan intended to tackle head on the perpetration of financial abuse, which includes theft, fraud and other scams used in the misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
Chief Inspector Stiff said “the many methods used to commit these types of crime can be extremely complex and varied. Those affected are not just those who might be seen as vulnerable in our communities. Scams can be carried out through the internet or by e-mail, written correspondence, telephone calls, personal cold callers and bogus workmen as just a few examples of the many types of crime that are being committed against communities in Dumfries and Galloway, and indeed right across Scotland.
Many crimes are committed by people overseas or from out-with Dumfries and Galloway so tracing the criminals can often be extremely challenging. Nevertheless we will use every mechanism available to us to bring offenders to justice, but a large part of our plan is aimed at making it more difficult for criminals to operate in our area in the first place. Our plan will ensure that staff working within statutory emergency services and the local authority, health professionals, care professionals, voluntary agencies and our partners in the commercial and private sector such as banks, post offices and retailers work together more closely than ever, are better informed and better able to spot the potential for crime before it happens and we will work together to support victims where a crime is committed.
IT’S NOT IF YOU WILL BE CONTACTED, BUT WHEN
Sadly it’s no longer so much about IF someone attempts to involve you or someone close to you in a scam but WHEN. Our strategy aims to empower people to make the right choices when they receive that call, text, e-mail or are approached on the door-step and it’s really important that we all work together to ensure criminals don’t succeed in our area.
Figures obtained through research show that almost 92% of people surveyed have received nuisance phone calls, 68% have received unwanted mail or post, 51% have been targeted by unwanted e-mails and 43% had unwanted callers at their door.
We want to encourage people to start conversations within their own families and amongst friends and neighbours about the risk of financial harm and the dangers that scams pose. The health and wellbeing of our communities is important to everyone and our aim in getting this strategy launched is to encourage everyone to work together to help keep our communities safe, and to feel safe, as they go about their business.
This type of crime is clearly on the increase across Scotland and here in Dumfries and Galloway we are not immune from any of these types of scams, thefts and fraudulent schemes. In 2018 officers in the Division have dealt with a large number of high value scams and frauds, which in some cases have netted as much as £40,000, £60,000 and £70,000 for the perpetrators. These are serious amounts of money which impact on the long term wellbeing of individuals and their families.
Crimes or attempted crimes are occurring in a street near to you, almost on a daily basis. Help us to work together and tackle this type of crime head on by starting, and keeping going the conversation about this horrible type of crime, its effects on our communities, and the ways in which it can be identified and dealt with.
In the weeks and months ahead, you will see posters in public places and officers engaging within communities, town centres and shopping areas to talk about financial harm. Professionals involved in delivering public services will be working to reduce the likelihood of crime in our area and Police Scotland and partners will be sharing information about the most recent scams to help people avoid falling victim. We will also be working with all of our partners to make best use of technology to prevent harm. Please engage with us and help us tackle this type of crime as a unified community against scams. If you have any concerns about financial harm or are concerned about a family member, friend or neighbour, help and advice can be sought through your local community policing officer or through contacting Trading Standards, Dumfries and Galloway Council or your bank, building society or carer as appropriate.
Help us #BeatDoorstepCrime and report any bogus callers or rogue traders to Police or Trading Standards.
Bogus callers try to get into your home or obtain personal details by pretending to be someone they’re not, including council staff, charity collectors, meter readers and police officers. In reality, they are criminals trying to steal money and valuables.
Rogue traders usually cold-call, claiming to be workers offering to sell services, make repairs or carry out work on your house, garden or driveway. In reality they charge inflated prices for shoddy or unnecessary work.
We DO NOT recommend dealing with cold-callers for property maintenance and home repairs.
We're reminding householders not to let the improved weather blind them to the importance of home security...
- As you spend time outdoors in the warm weather, doors and windows are often left wide open, providing a ready invitation to passing opportunist thieves who could sneak in and out in a matter of seconds taking valuable property with them. Keep windows and doors locked.
- Don't keep any keys or valuables within arm’s reach of the front or back door - keep them out of sight.
- For visibility at night, consider sensor-operated lighting which is convenient and an effective deterrent.
- If your shed/garage has windows, consider fitting a curtain, or similar, to obscure the view of the shed contents.
- Mark all the electrical equipment with an ultraviolet marker pen or register at imobilise.comwww.immobilise.com
- If you have an alarm - make sure and use it. Also, consider an intruder alarm for your shed or outbuilding.
- Never leave your shed/garage unlocked. Are the locks secure?
• Use significantly different passwords for each service you have
• Change passwords every 90 days for all services
• Ensure your passwords are a minimum of 8 characters, using lower-case letters, uppercase letters, numbers and special characters in a scrambled sequence
• The password chosen must not include any usernames or easy to guess phrases e.g. “password”
• Having difficulty remembering lots of different passwords? Try a password manager
• Use multi-Factor authentication to give further security to your online accounts
reproduced by kind permmission of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre
Police are urging bicycle owners to securely fasten their bikes after forty bike thefts in Dumfries since the start of the year.
Summer has arrived and chances are that you or a friend or family member will be out and about enjoying the various cycle paths and taking in the fabulous scenic routes Dumfries and Galloway offers.This however increases the desirability of bicycles to thieves. Recently there has been a spate of bicycles stolen in Dumfries, almost of which have been as a result of the bike being left unattended and insecure.
Crime Reduction Officer Derek Hughes from Community Safety said: “Some modern bicycles can be fairly expensive and thieves will take any opportunity to exploit that. We are reminding the public there can be a number of common sense measures that can reduce the chances of being a victim of crime.
Do not leave your bicycle in isolated places.
Always lock your bicycle when you leave it. Failure to do so will most likely invalidate any insurance cover.
Where possible, lock your bicycle to something solid like a lamp post or railings.
If your wheels are easily removed, remove the front wheel and lock it to the frame and back wheel.
Take a photograph and a description of your bike.
Do not leave your bike lying about!
“Even in the safest community, we would advise against leaving your bicycle outside your home or in your garden, unless it is a secured with a bicycle lock.
“Pedal cycles can be of high value, and are easily sold on or often dissembled for parts. If you wish to have your bicycle post-coded, please contact your local police station on 101.”
BE ALERT TO MACHINERY THEFTS
Police are urging you to secure your vehicles and other machinery this summer.
While Dumfries and Galloway is enjoying low crime rates officers are doing their best to make sure this continues and the national problem of vehicle crime does not hit this region. It is a rural area so it can be sometimes subject to thefts from farm or rural properties. Furthermore it is not immune from the more urban crimes such as domestic car crime.
From time to time a region can be targeted by teams of thieves from elsewhere in the UK. Such thieves often visit a property in advance, and if challenged give an apparently innocent reason for their presence.
To prevent this police officers in the region are stepping up patrols during the summer months. Police are also warning farmers and other members of the public to pay particular attention to their plant and machinery security. Farm or even residential vehicles can be high value and securing them should be considered to prevent any thefts from farms, building sites and industrial premises.
Identify your property by:
Keeping a record of the serial number, chassis and model numbers of machines.
Use metal engravers to mark tools and equipment with your postcode followed by the first two letters of your farm's name.
Consider physical crime prevention measures for all machinery and vehicles.
There are a number of products on the market which would deter persons from stealing such vehicles, ie Data tag, Quadloc, Smartwater, etc.
Always keep tools and small pieces of machinery locked away. Do not leave them lying about.
From a police point of view it is disappointing when officers are called to thefts plant, machinery and other vehicles and quickly learn how easy it has been for the thieves.
Members of the community are urged to take the opportunity to contact us and ask for a visit from their local crime prevention officers for a free security survey. It may just save you hundreds or thousands of pounds and stop you becoming a victim of theft.
Inspector Alan Cook of Dumfries Division Community Policing Unit said: “We are lucky that Dumfries and Galloway has a relatively low crime rate compared to other areas, however the area has at times been a target for travelling criminals who come to the area and commit crime.
“We are advising members of the public not to be complacent and insure that they secure all items of plant, machinery or vehicles that they own or use. These are all very valuable commodities and should be treated as such. Crimes of this nature are on the increase throughout the country and we would urge people to take all appropriate steps to ensure their property is adequately secured.
“Plant, Machinery and Vehicles are a valuable part of modern day life. However they are also a valuable commodity to thieves and it is therefore important that our community take relevant measures to secure their vehicles and machinery properly.”
“There have also been incidents throughout the force area of vehicle number plates being stolen from parked and unattended vehicle’s, the main reason for this type of theft is in order to fit the plates to another vehicle that has either been or is about to be stolen. Members of the public are urged to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious incidents immediately to Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary on 101.