SUCCESSFUL crime-busting campaign Operation Lockout, which uses SelectaDNA forensic marking as a major component of the scheme, has dramatically reduced burglary and theft in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Since the launch of the scheme three years ago, residential burglaries in Richmond have dropped from 1,550 in 2005-6 to just under 1,000 in 2008-9 - an impressive drop of 33%.
The project involves the distribution of a burglary pack containing a SelectaDNA kit, which is given to all victims of domestic burglary. The pack also includes crime prevention advice & information to enable victims to increase their home security and prevent them from becoming repeat victims.
Funded by the Richmond Community Safety Partnership, the scheme was devised in 2006 as a crime prevention and detection programme designed to reassure the residents of Richmond that something proactive was being done to protect them. The Community Safety Partnership identified a need for a concerted effort to dissuade the large percentage of ‘off borough’ criminals from committing crime in Richmond. This initially centred on crimes of residential burglary and theft from motor vehicles, the two main crime types committed by ‘visiting’ offenders in 70 per cent of cases.
SelectaDNA is the most advanced and best value property marking kit on the market. The Safer Neighbourhood Team at Richmond has been helping residents use the marking kits in their homes. Each kit contains a bottle of the SelectaDNA formula, which consists of an ultraviolet tracer and a unique DNA code. The clear liquid can be applied by residents to any household item to identify it as belonging to their property.
If an item such as a laptop, flatscreen TV or an iPod is stolen and later recovered by police, it can be scanned using a UV light and traced back to the rightful owner via the DNA marking. Add to this a high profile publicity campaign and the end result is ‘target hardened’ residential properties across Richmond upon Thames - making residents a less attractive target for burglary and theft.
Operation Lockout has been commended as a beacon of good practice by the Metropolitan Police and has contributed towards making Richmond London’s Safest Borough. The initiative has already been adopted in areas of Holland, Belgium and Australia.
Borough Commander, Detective Chief Supt Rick Turner, added: “Operation Lockout has been particularly effective and makes a significant contribution to making Richmond upon Thames the safest borough in London. The key to that success has been the police working closely with the council and local people to communicate a clear message - burglars are not wanted in this part of London - and if you do burgle on our patch chances are that you will be caught and brought to justice."
Meanwhile, recognising an increase in the number of cycle thefts across London, the Operation Lockout team in conjunction with local police Safer Neighbourhood Teams have embarked on a series of free cycle security marking events employing Bikeregister.com, the secure online bike database which is owned and managed by Selectamark.
Once a bike has been security marked and registered on bikeregister.com, it immediately becomes a less attractive target for thieves, and if stolen and recovered by the police, the bike can be easily identified and returned to its owner.
Community Safety Co-ordinator for Richmond upon Thames, Kevin Fletcher- Biles said: "Since the introduction of bikeregister to Richmond in September 2006 we have marked a total of 4,600 bikes and continue to mark about 100 bikes a month. From January to April this year, we have already marked 575 bikes and the initiative continues to work very well for us. The scheme is extremely successful in terms of recovering and returning bikes to their owners and also in securing prosecutions."
An Operation Lockout Roadshow has been touring public events such as local fairs, college freshers days and safer transport events across the borough offering free bike marking to residents and students. According to Mr Fletcher-Biles these events are very well-attended and drive home Richmond's strong message that it will continue to be tough on theft and keep crime out of the borough.
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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