Milverton
Avon and Somerset Police

Cold calling and suspicious behaviour

It has been noted that there has been an increase in cold calling, in particular fencing and gardening works. Do please remember that you are under no obligation to answer the door or invite anyone inside your property. Here are a few tips:

  • Did they put a leaflet through your door claiming to offer discounts for OAPs?
  • Do they offer discount for calling within a particular time scale of receiving your leaflet?
  • Do they offer a particular service and then claim to offer a host of other services seemingly unrelated?
  • Does it look like a professionally printed leaflet?
  • If you speak to an operator, do not be bullied into committing to their services or an appointment
  • If they are in your home, phone a friend and ask them to come round
  • You can ask them to leave at any point during their sales pitch
  • If you’re not sure, don’t open the door

Due also to an increase in thefts from out buildings and sheds, please ensure your property is secure at all times. Any larger items, lawn mowers and garden power tools can be secured with chains inside. Screw heads can be rounded off on hinges and security lighting is effective.

Clever gardening tips to deter burglars

As well as creating a lovely space for you and loved ones with a bit of careful planning, you can also deter burglars.

Follow our tips for a dangerously beautiful garden and keep thieves at bay:

  • Grow hedging to act as a barrier

Plants that have evolved over millions of years to protect themselves can also help protect our homes. Species with spiky leaves or thorns will make burglars think twice before trying to pass through or climb them. Berberis, Hawthorn or Blackthorn are ideal for this and there are evergreen variations available, providing protection all the year round.

  • Use your fruit or veg plots wisely

Fruit or veg plots can act as a secondary line of defence within your garden. Grow rows of spiky gooseberries or try exotic Szechuan pepper. They will make an exit route uncomfortable for anyone trying to make a quick escape.

  • Plant something spiky under your windows

Plant rose bushes under your windows; not only do they look pretty but they will also put off burglars trying to scope out what’s on offer inside your home.

  • Hide outbuildings with bushes and hedges

Hide small sheds or outbuildings containing valuables like bikes or electric garden tools so they don’t become a target. Evergreen hedges like laurel, escallonia and grisalinia grow quickly to form a covering, as well as adding more green to your garden.

  • Lock your gate and check fences are fully secure

Having your gate closed with a lock acts as a great psychological deterrent. It’s also important to check that fences aren’t broken, as they create a physical defence to anyone trying to gain entry to your garden. Make them doubly secure by adding a trellis to the top of the fence, which will make a loud noise if broken and alert you to any trespassers.

Securing your garden and outbuildings

  • Check for weak spots where a thief could get in – a low or weak fence or a back gate with a weak lock
  • Fences at the front of the property should be low to offer good visibility
  • Fit a strong, lockable high gate across any side passage to stop a thief getting to the back of the house where they can work undisturbed
  • Use thorny hedges and plants along boundaries, under ground-floor windows and up drainpipes to make it harder for thieves to gain access
  • Cut back any vegetation that might shield a thief from view and any trees that could give roof access
  • Consider fitting dusk ’til dawn security lights to the outside of your home at the front and back
  • Don’t leave ladders or tools outside, or if necessary chain them up, as they could be used to break into your property
  • Photograph valuable tools and unusual garden ornaments
  • Mark your tools with your postcode and house number, or the first two letters of your house name, then place the details on Immobilise, the UK national property register website

Sheds

  • Secure your garden shed, especially if you keep valuable items stored inside. Padlocks should be made of hardened steel. Buy the close-shackled variety to prevent hacksaws or bolt croppers being used
  • Shed windows should be screwed shut or have window locks. Consider fitting a metal grille
  • Chain tools, cycles and other valuable equipment together using a high security chain or cable and a padlock. Anchor the chain into the wall or floor
  • Alarms can be extended to garages and sheds. Alternatively, buy a battery- operated audible alarm

Garages

  • Most standard ‘up and over’ garage doors are easily overcome by a burglar. You can prevent this by drilling a hole through the channel above the wheels and fitting a padlock. Alternatively, fit a hasp and staple on each side of the door with a padlock or fit a specialist lock
  • If you have a door connecting your garage to your house, ensure the connecting door is secured with a mortice deadlock (BS 3621) and mortice bolts