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Police meetings

Police letter: 16 August 2014

The police have written to Trinity Church Square and Trinity Street residents about the damage to cars in 2013 (see below). There have been no recent incidents but they remind us to check under cars.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously round a car, phone 999. If your car is damaged, tell the Chaucer Policing Team on 07920 233917.

CAR CRIME: Meeting with police team on Friday 15 November 2013 in Henry Wood Hall

The local police team called a meeting about the spate of damage to brake cables of cars in the Brockham Street, Trinity Church Square, Trinity Street area.

1. General. The meeting was well attended with approx. 20 residents there (including four residents whose cars and motor bike were vandalised). Police officer Chris Scott brought along several colleagues, including another PC, an inspector and two Community Support Officers. Officer Scott ("OS") did most of the talking. The meeting lasted an hour.

2. Nature and number of incidents. OS informed that he had been aware that there were 'only' 8 reported cases over a period of 9 months. There is no specific pattern or particular type of car that is being targeted. Initially it was thought that perhaps only rich 4x4 folk were attacked but this is not the case. A wide array of car and van types (as well as a motorbike) has been damaged. The attacks happen during the night. Police are not aware of this happening elsewhere (apart from a few isolated incidents). Adding up the number of incidents mentioned by those residents that were present led to the conclusion that the problem remains under-reported. It is crucial that all those who are affected should report it to the police without the delay to make sure that the authorities have a clear picture of the scale and frequency of the sabotage. More reports means more attention means more resource.

ACTION: Residents report to the police when their property has been affected. Call the Chaucer team on 07920 233917.

3. Wildlife or vandals? OS informed that at this stage he cannot rule out foxes as a possible perpetrators due to a lack of clear evidence to the contrary. Quoting car mechanics, attendees refused to accept that foxes could be responsible for the (rather clean) cuts of the brake and ABS cables. Also, if foxes are responsible why does it not happen all over London one attendee asked. One of the victims offered a bag with his cut cables to the officers but was told that they 'have no evidence value' as it cannot be ascertained whether it is sharp teeth of wire cutters that cut through the material. The same goes for photos. OS has been liaising with a wildlife expert in Bristol and there are several cases elsewhere in the UK where it indeed turned out to be foxes. OS and his team are therefore going to distribute a wildlife repellant called 'Scoot'. Residents are asked to spray this on their wheels. Only if the attacks do not stop after the application of Scoot the police can definitively rule out foxes (OS explained that police enquiries are basically a process of elimination).

ACTION: OS and team to distribute Scoot.

4. CCTV. OS informed that installing CCTV will cost approx. £10,000 which is a sum that will not be made available by the council given the current state of the public purse. In addition, even if the council were to install CCTV then the police simply do not have enough manpower do sift through hours of footage. Therefore CCTV is not a realistic option at this stage. As an alternative, residents are encouraged to install a webcam on their windowsills. There was a question from the residents what the police would do if the residents were to raise the 10k themselves (through a community event like a bingo evening or raffle). OS said he was open to helping out on a privately funded initiative and would look into the spec of an appropriate system. In the meantime, signs with 'CCTV in operation' will be put up by the police as a deterrent.

ACTION: OS to obtain specific CCTV quote and spec from the council. Once quote and spec has been provided TNRA to go out to market and compare the council quote with quotes by private firms. Police to put up (fake) signs.

5. Surveillance. The police have carried out some extra night surveillance but this did not yield any results. If you spot anything suspicious during the night, we were advised: do not go out with a cricket bat, wrestle with or chase after the suspect but call 999 instead.