Last month the Times reported on the sentencing of the Wimbledon Prowler to 14 years imprisonment, much to the relief of the Police and the residents of Wimbledon Village. Among his victims were public personalities.
He admitted to 25 offences, committed over a period of 11 years and theft to a value of half a million pounds, with property totalling £371,00 being taken from one home alone.
Police suspect, however, that his crime spree started in the late 90’s and the value of property stolen could be way in excess of that admitted.
In this small report were a number of interesting pieces of information that stood out. Here we will take a look at some of these, and offer insights which may help you protect yourself against falling victim to burglary.
The Prowler, real name Kapaj, was an Albanian who arrived in the UK in 1996. When he was first arrested in the Wimbledon area he was in possession of stolen goods, while working as a builder.
This profession and many like it such as installing windows or cleaning windows is a great profession for a burglar to adopt.
Potentially low skills levels are required for assisting in these roles. In the majority of cases, the employer would not undertake background searches and interviews to determine legitimacy of employment status, criminal background, previous checkable work history, and on top of this it offers the individual the perfect opportunity to identify and conduct reconnaissance of potential targets with a reason to be there.
Ask yourself how many times you have left workers at your home unattended, given them access to your keys for prolonged periods (which they could copy), perhaps while away on holiday or left a property insecure for them. Have you ever found them in rooms they didn’t need to be in or suspected missing cash and valuables? Perhaps you’ve suffered a break-in after you’ve had works done.
Ensuring that you use reputable firms who have a thorough recruitment and checks process in place is not fool proof, but a sensible step to protecting yourself and reducing your risk. It’s not that uncommon, schools often require builders and trades to have only enhanced vetted staff to their sites, to protect their children and themselves.
Display good security practices at these times, keep valuables hidden and control or restrict access to the relevant areas of the works. Make trades report in and out, limit the use of phones to their vans or a set area, have agreements in place. Introducing measures like these will send the message that you are a secure, hard target.
Kapaj then moved away from London to Manchester. As it transpires he would travel from Manchester to Wimbledon sometimes 3 times a week to conduct reconnaissance of properties and burgle homes.
Often his break-ins wouldn’t be to steal but to gain knowledge of the property and identify areas of high value items, such as jewellery and watches, It was even reported he would repaint window frames which he had damaged and leave methods to gain entry at a later time.
He chose times when the occupants were at home or away on holiday to strike, in order to avoid active alarm systems. We would suggest you are the most valuable thing in your home and if your alarm isn’t protecting you and your family while you’re at home, perhaps you should consider rethinking it. Kapaj was meticulous in his trade and highly motivated.
Often we hear phrases like, who would go to that much trouble, that would be a lot of effort or that would be too difficult. Understanding that these offenders can be highly motivated, skilled and professional, just like you are to your job or business, is sometimes hard to hear, but a fact of life nonetheless and well evidenced in this situation.
If you leave a vulnerability there’s a chance someone will exploit it and more often than not, that vulnerability will be human not technical. Windows left open, doors left unlocked, hiring of unchecked trades, not reporting that suspicious person or notifying your neighbours, leaving the key under the mat, keeping a highly predictable routine, showing off wealth, bins left out, mail left in the letterbox, the list goes on.
Consider what you are doing that provides an opportunity, you’ll know what it is because you’ll have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind when you do it and arrange a more secure may of achieving the same effect.
It took potentially 29 years to catch the Wimbledon Prowler, with at least 25 families affected by his crimes and potentially 25 families who won’t easily forget his crimes. Many of these homes will have had sophisticated security measures in place.
If you would like to discuss your home security get in touch with us here today.