My 79 year old dad has rented his allotment for the last 53 years. His plot is the one that is set back from the road, central to all the allotments and at the side of a farmer's field, large trees and a wide beck. This year he had visitors that came, not once, but twice in the hours of darkness. They bashed his gate which had a padlock attached, snapped it off to gain access then trampled over the plot to a shed he built himself, smashed the window then climbed in to help themselves to the contents of the locked shed; rotavator, lawnmower, and tools. Now I can imagine you thinking why did he store these valuable items in here? He is getting into his elder years and more frail as each year passes. The tools he had were old, or the less expensive makes, but were needed and valuable to his needs to help him tend his plot. He finds it much easier to do his cultivation with tools on hand rather than have to carry them from his home a short walk away. The unwelcome visitors must have noticed this.
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR UNWELCOME VISITORS?
1. If you store anything of value in your allotment make sure you have a record and receipts to show proof of purchase, write down serial numbers,and keep a note of any marks, chips or unusual features that might identify your equipment in the absence of any serial numbers.
2. Use a UV pen to mark your equipment, writing both your postcode and house number
3. Plant brambles, Berberis, Holly, all spiky plants/trees that act as a natural deterrent around the edge of the plot as an addition to fences.
4. Barbed wire can be erected but not where the public can touch it directly.
5. Any screws or fittings on locks make sure they are the security headed ones or grind out the heads so screwdrivers cannot unscrew them.
6. Deter entry to gates /sheds by buying good locks or chains that are security professionally designed to prevent saws or bolt croppers getting through.
7. If you are in an allotment society ask for a visit and or presentation from a the local police force's crime reduction officer who may visit several plots if a group of owners agree.
8. Some websites recommend displaying stickers/notices to say 'All equipment on these premises have been security marked' This only advertises that you have equipment of value stored and will not stop the intruders.
9. Retain anything left at the scene by the offenders but do not touch. This links crime scenes and aids the police to detect any many more offences.
IF THE UNWELCOME VISITORS ARRIVE:
1. Don't touch anything.
2. Look to see what has been broken/stolen. Ring the local non-emergency police number, usually 101. NOTE: If a building has been broken into this is a BURGLARY. Insist on a visit from the police (don't be fobbed off). This is the only way scenes of crime will be called to get evidence to catch the burglars.
3. If you see any blood stains, carefully, without touching (and wearing gloves) cover with cling film/plastic to stop rain washing the stains away.
4. Any footprints found, cover with a bin lid or similar without disturbing the print.
Unfortunately crime is a sign of our times and although we trust our neighbours and visitors around our allotments we have to protect and secure what is valuable to us. I hope my first blog will be of some help to you to make this 2013 a successful, crime free, enjoyable and productive allotment year.