On the beat: A result, and some advice

Deb Thurgood

We had another great community tip-off last week around suspicious activity.

A Maungatautari local observed a Subaru vehicle with no registration plates driving slowly around a dead-end rural road, seemingly scoping out properties. He called it in to police and followed the vehicle at a distance. police were able to stop it a short time later and speak with all occupants.

Valuable information on its occupants and activities was noted and due to unrelated driving matters, the vehicle was impounded. We are sure that this local’s persistence prevented crime.  If you see suspicious activity, ring 111 immediately so we can catch them in the act.

On another important topic, ram raids and aggravated robberies continue to occur across the Waikato region. In Cambridge, we’ve recently had aggravated robberies at Robinson Dairy and Karapiro café where weapons were presented. These events are traumatising for the victims and are often just part of a series of crimes a group of individuals will commit – often within a very short space of time.

From a prevention point of view, visibility into retail shops and cafes is key. Window frontages that are largely clear of advertising enable a view of what is happening inside as well as outside on the street. Passers-by and nearby shops/houses count as ‘capable guardians’ – these are the people most likely to notice if something is going on and call 111 for assistance when you are unable. The witnesses can then also provide valuable first-hand descriptions and evidence.  If they cannot see into your business, you lose this advantage. Equally, if you cannot see outside, you may be unaware of threatening activity as it unfolds.

Inside, ensure that you have a safe lockable space into which staff can easily retreat if presented with a threat – this could be for a drunk/aggressive customer equally as for one wielding a weapon.

Fog cannons, when installed are a deterrent and if activated, are a distraction and disorient offenders, delaying their movements. Ensure activation points are located at the point of service as well as within the safe space.

Activation can also be linked to an alarm sensor activation for after-hours burglary prevention.

With witness accounts of an incident often varying, good quality CCTV cameras are also important for capturing an accurate record of what happened. Rolling footage gives insight into not only the physical appearance of offenders and their clothing but also how they carry themselves, walk and move. These can be key recognisable traits that assist in identification. CCTV obviously also clearly shows their offending.

If Police know what an offender is wearing, it can be telling evidence when located during the subsequent investigation and execution of search warrants. For this reason, I strongly recommend you do a regular audit of your CCTV to ensure it is recording, providing a clear picture and that the footage can be exported. With more offenders being forensically aware, CCTV is sometimes all we have to rely on. Make sure your system is working, before we need it.

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