Police launch Operation Gnome to help Hemel residents keep their homes and gardens secure this spring

Hertfordshire Police launches its annual spring crime prevention campaign as the easing of lockdown restrictions and better weather present opportunitites to criminals

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:58 pm

Hertfordshire Police is launching its annual spring crime prevention campaign, Operation Gnome, to provide advice to help residents make their homes, gardens and outbuildings more secure this spring.

As lockdown restrictions ease, many people will be returning to work or spending more time outdoors, which will give criminals opportunities to target homes.

At this time of year when the weather is starting to improve, people tend to spend more time in their gardens using gardening and leisure equipment.

Burglars are also on the look-out for valuable equipment and tools left out or stored in sheds and outbuildings that often have little or no security.

Inspector Nicola Dean from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Crime Reduction Team, said: “During the lockdowns burglaries have remained very low as homes have been mostly occupied.

"However, as more people venture out the risk increases and we often see an increase in thefts from gardens, sheds and garages, during the spring.

"We are recommending that everyone takes some basic security measures to make sure their gardens and outbuildings are secure.

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"Leaving tools and gardening equipment lying around in your garden can attract thieves, as they are valuable and could also be used to break into your home.

“Make sure any tools that could assist a burglar, like ladders, trowels, hammers etc, are locked away and make sure outbuildings are as secure as possible, with strong locks or even an alarmed padlock.

"Dusk till dawn security lights and planting defensive plants like roses along your borders and keeping fences in good condition will make your home even safer.

"Remember to close windows and lock doors when you are finished outside and before going to bed, even when the weather gets warmer.”

The force's crime prevention officers will be answering your questions on home, garden and property security this week (22 to 26 March) on the @HertsPolice Twitter channel. Tweet your questions to them using the #OpGnome tag.

These are some of the ways you can make your garden and outbuildings more secure:

> Always lock your shed, preferably with two 'hasp and staple' locks (one near the top and one near the bottom of the door) or use or an alarmed padlock

> Secure your rear garden by locking entry gates with a padlock

> Burglars can use garden tools to break in, so make sure you securely lock away any tools after use

> Ensure boundary fences are secure and in good condition. Spiky plants along garden boundaries are good additional deterrents

> Tools and gardening equipment should be visibly marked with your postcode and house number - this can deter thieves and help police identify the rightful owner

> Remember to lock your garage door securely. Metal ‘up and over’ doors can be secured with extra locks fitted either side and/or a floor-mounted locking ‘T’ bar with a closed shackle padlock. Wooden garage doors can be secured with two substantial ‘hasps and staple’ locks and closed shackle padlocks (your local DIY store can advise on the most secure options)

> Join Neighbourhood Watch or Allotment Watch to help reduce crime in your local area

> Make access to the rear of your property difficult, keep rear/side gates closed and locked ensure boundary walls/fences are in good repair

> Secure wheelie bins so they cannot be moved or used as climbing aids

> Plant defensive spiky plants under windows – Berberis, Roses, Pyracantha

> Most bicycles are stolen from home so ensure your sheds, outbuildings and garages are secure. Consider installing ground anchors if you have a concrete floor. If not, look for security rated products specifically for wooden and metal sheds.

> Take extra security precautions for storing expensive bikes - it is recommended that they are security marked and registered.

For more detailed security advice, visit www.herts.police.uk/crimeprevention or contact us on 101.