Simple advice which can help prevent Norfolk householders from becoming victims of crime

Prevention is, as they say, better than cure. That is why Norfolk police employ crime prevention officers in a bid to try and beat the burglars before they get the chance to strike.

The message to householders is simple but effective – try and make your property as difficult to break into as possible.

PC Gail Kevern, force crime prevention co-ordinator at Norfolk Constabulary, has been a crime prevention officer with the force for eight years.

She said domestic surveys which are offered to victims of burglary can be requested by any householder.

She said: 'We will always offer it to a victim of a burglary dwelling. But its something that's always available for anyone to have. We will go along do the survey and provide them with a written copy of our recommendations.'

The surveys offer people the chance to have a specialist officer take a detailed look at the property and its surroundings, trying to spot solutions to potential areas of concern. She said: 'We start by looking at the street they are in and if anything there is a contributory factor to being a victim of burglary.'

Things that officers will be looking for include footpaths leading down the side of the house which give access to the back of the house and items lying around in the garden, such as hammers or garden tools, which might help burglars break into a property.

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It is also a good idea to keep bushes low so that people in the front garden can be seen by others.

PC Kevern, who is also an architectural liaison officer, said they then worked their way into the house, looking at all manner of things from locks on doors and windows to spy holes, door chains, timer switches for lights and other appliances in different parts of the house.

She said: 'There's so much technology out there that we could bullet proof any house. We will always start with what they can do that will cost them the least amount of money – what's achievable and cost effective – and move up to replacing windows and doors and putting in other technologies.'

PC Kevern said she does think the crime prevention message is getting through as a result of initiatives like crime surveys.

Much of the advice given to victims as part of the survey is common sense to police officers and those who have been victims of burglary – but not always to those who have not been victims of burglary before.

PC Kevern said one of the best bits of advice, especially at this time of year when the evenings are darker, was to make sure your house looks occupied. She said: 'It's starting to get dark so its taking measures to make sure it looks occupied – lights and timers – so there's noise and lots going on and encouraging people to look out for their neighbours.'

Other advice includes:

Putting in a spy-hole so that the householder can see who is calling at the door without having to open it.

A deadlock, and door limiter or chain-type device could also be added to the door for extra security.

In rear gardens consider defensive planting techniques, like growing tall prickly bushes and other greenery. This not only shields the house from rear alleyways but also creates an uncomfortable moveable barrier which is difficult to climb on and over.

Tomorrow – We examine how burglars are brought to justice in Norwich.

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