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Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Creating safer, stronger and active communities

Distracton Burglary Advice

Remember - You don't have to open the door!

Most callers are genuine, but some aren't. Burglars won't go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock and be invited in. So always be on guard when unexpected visitors - men, women or even children - turn up at the door. 

Occasionally some callers will pretend to be on official business from utility companies (gas, electricity, water) or the council. They may pretend to be trades people who are calling to carry out urgent repairs or may claim that they have lost something in your back garden. 

Lock the back door! (and close the windows)

Some distraction burglars will know you are at home and will call at your front door in order to keep you talking there while their friend goes round the back and steals from the back of the house.  It’s always a good habit to keep the back door locked in any case.  During the day you just need to turn the key in the lock, but do remember to take the key out at night or when you go out. 

Acknowledge a call at the door

It is essential that you acknowledge the call, otherwise the caller will think the home is unoccupied.  Of course, acknowledging a call at the door is very different to actually opening the door to a caller. Try to see the face of the caller but stay safe:  If you live in a house, you could pop upstairs and talk to the caller from the complete safety of an open first floor window. You can also look through the clear glazed panel of your front door, if you have one, or use a door viewer. You may even fit one of the new smart doorbells which allow you to view a caller and some will even record them on a short video and allow you to acknowledge the vistor over the internet.

Keeping the door closed

There is nothing wrong with keeping your entrance door closed to an unexpected caller.  An enhanced security door is most effective when it’s closed and locked!  There is no obligation to open the door to strangers.  During the day if the door is opened, open it on the chain.

If you are disabled you can get a simple door phone.  They are cheap to buy and easy to install and will save you a lot of effort.  In fact door phones for ‘closed door’  are a good idea anyway, because you can acknowledge the call from the comfort of an arm chair.

Opening the door on the chain

For those who prefer to open the door, apply the door chain or door bar or other restrictive mechanism that you might have. 

This will let you have a clear view of the caller and be able to talk face-to-face and pass things like identification cards through the gap. If your home has a very narrow hallway, where the door is almost the same width as the hall, then you might not be able to look at the caller through the gap.  In these situations try fitting a makeup mirror on the wall right by the doorframe that has been angled slightly to bring the caller’s face into view.  You can often stick these to the wall using blue-tak. If you need to go and get something for the caller from another part of your home keep the door chain on and close and lock the door while you fetch the item.  You should also do this when you are checking a caller’s identification.  If they’re genuine they won’t mind, even if it’s pouring down.

To protect yourself from distraction burglary

  1. Beware of anyone who says they are in a hurry - if in doubt, call a neighbour or friend
  2. Check to see who is at the door by using your door viewer, or looking through a front window Always put the chain on before you open the door as this is a barrier against unwanted callers
  3. When an unexpected caller claims they work for one of the utility companies, they must be able to quote your password and unique customer number and produce an identity card
    • All of the utility companies operate password schemes - contact the customer services department and set up a password with them
    • Make a note of your customer number, which can be found at the top of the utility bill and keep it handy - this number is unique to your household
    • As added proof of identity, genuine trades people should carry an identification card with their photograph on -check this carefully and keep the chain on.

Heating and Diesel Oil Theft

Following the heating oil security advice below, could reduce the chances of you being a victim.

Theft of heating and diesel oil has been a problem for many years and the police have noticed an increase in this type of crime whenever the price of crude oil rises.  A rise in the price of fuel at the petrol pump inevitably leads to a rise in the costs of heating oil.  This makes oil a more attractive proposition for thieves who are targeting fuel tanks at farms, transport depots and domestic properties.  The thieves may be using the oil for their own central heating or selling it on at a handsome profit.

Tanks can contain many thousands of pounds worth of oil and it therefore makes good sense to take a few precautions to protect them.  The purpose of this information is to give the reader a few ideas about what can be done to make life more difficult for thieves.

Read more: Heating and Diesel Oil Theft

Home Security

We're urging you to check your home security to help prevent a rise in burglaries over the winter months. Dwindling hours of daylight and the Christmas period often combine to result in more break-ins.

In the three months from August to October last year, there were 569 dwelling burglaries in the county, compared to 628 during the following three months (November-January), a rise of more than 10 per cent.

Taking security steps at home and remembering to always leave your windows and doors locked is a great start but we would also ask people to keep their eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity.

Information we receive from the public is crucial and people should never hesitate to report something that appears unusual or suspicious.

For more burglary prevention advice, see below or visit our web pages and online home survey tool at

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or online at


Detective Chief Inspector Mike Branston

Here are some tips:

  1. Always keep doors and windows closed and locked or in a ventilated but locked position, even when they are inside the house. Always check and lock doors with a key - never assume that just pushing up an internal handle will lock the door.
  2. Remove keys from window and door locks, but keep them in a familiar and safe place where all members of the family know where to find them in the event of an emergency.
  3. Never leave items such as keys, bags, presents and money on show through a window.
  4. Consider the position of key racks or shelves next to a door and ensure that they cannot be reached through the letter box.
  5. Use timer switches to turn on lights and radios when you are going to be away from your house at dusk.
  6. Consider the use of lights at the front and rear of your property that are activated when someone approaches.
  7. Consider the use of bolts and padlocks on side gates. Place the bolts at the top, middle and bottom of the gate, as just a top bolt might be easy to reach and open.
  8. A visible intruder alarm box can prove to be one of the biggest deterrents to an opportunist burglar, so consider installing a DIY or supplier installed system.

Making Your Home Safer

We continue to have thefts and burglaries

The police work hard to catch the offenders but please remain vigilant and do everything you can to make your home safer.

 What can you do? 

It's important to make your home as protected as possible to ensure that it is a safe place

  • Make sure all points of entry to your home or property have locks. 
  • If you have multi-locking door handles, lift the handle, lock it with the key and remove it - LIFT - LOCK - REMOVE.  
  • Put keys in a safe place out of sight in case of fire.
  • Make sure you lock up before going to bed at night. 
  • Don't leave your keys in doors and windows or hanging within easy reach of the front door. 
  • When you leave the property, no matter for how long, make sure that entry points are all locked.
  • Windows that are left insecure or partially open are often used as a means of entry into your home.
  • Think about further security measures - a fence, burglar alarm or security lights likely to deter burglars. They can also decrease your insurance payments.
  • To help you feel secure when answering your door, fit a spy hole so you can see who is calling. You should also fit a door chain.
  • Don't let anyone into the property that you feel unsure about, and always ask to see identification if they don't have any, do not let them in.