This week the cafe next door to our office was broken into. Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was done to steal a computer also worth a couple of hundred, which will have garnered the thief a few measly pounds on the black market.
Not only does a large piece of glass, a computer and stock need to be replaced, the café couldn’t open while the broken glass was removed, the wooden frame repaired and made safe, and once opened again, business is affected as the temporary board over the window looks unattractive. Unfortunately our security CCTV cameras were trained on our property, however, the bizarre and suspicious behaviour of a member of public was caught on that night. The individual can be seen walking around and around, shining a torch through the windows of our neighbours’ shops and then apparently concealing something in his clothing as he takes flight.
Clearly Identifiable Criminals Caught On CCTV
The café owner came to look at the footage that our cameras filmed and was able to identify, by name, the person who was captured on camera. Somebody was arrested for the crime, but subsequently released by police thanks to lack of evidence.
However, the police didn’t ask us or any of our neighbours if we had CCTV footage of the night, or whether there were any eye witnesses to the break in. As well as having plenty of circumstantial evidence against the suspect the owner of the shop opposite can be seen coming to the door of his premises, speaking to the suspect, and going back inside. Shortly after the man can be seen shining his torch into the windows of the shop again, apparently to see if he was still on site.
We’ve now shared the footage with the café owner and the police and hope that a case can be brought, given that there was evidence of suspicious behaviour at exactly the crime was committed.
So it makes sense for business owners to ensure that their security measures are up to date. CCTV cameras are a good visible deterrent, preventing break-ins, vandalism, antisocial behaviour and other unwelcome activity in or around your business. We’re happy to share the evidence we were able to collect, but had the café had its own security in place, the culprit would have been far easier to identify should they still have been irrational enough to break in to a property where they knew they were being filmed.
Break-Ins, Vandalism, Anti-Social Behaviour And Street Violence All Cost The Community Directly
Vandalism alone costs the British economy several billions of pounds each year to repair, clean, and put right. Burglary not only has a direct cost, it has many knock-on costs too. Insurance, repairs, the police’ time to investigate, the cost of the courts and the cost to punish the criminal should a conviction be secured. Ultimately a single crime which might have earned the criminal a few pounds can end up costing many thousands to the taxpayer.
As well as a financial cost, there is an emotional cost as well. It’s really unpleasant to know that you’ve been victimised. If your home is broken into the sense of intrusion and violation is incredible. Knowing that an unwelcome visitor has been through your stuff, picking out what they think they can get a pretty penny for is insulting and degrading. And while you don’t have the same emotional bond to a business premise as you do your own home, it’s still your business, your property, something that you’ve poured time, money, stress and love into. Business owners are often surprised by their own depth of feeling after a break-in. They acknowledge that they have people passing through their doors all day, but these are welcome guests with honourable intent. A burglary feels like a slap in the face.
Prison Only Works As A Deterrent If People Believe They Will Go, And It Will Be Unpleasant
Prevention is better than cure. It would be Utopia if all the prisons were empty because there was no crime to necessitate them. And prison clearly doesn’t work as intended else the only people ever to be in prison would all be first time offenders who were both punished and rehabilitated into upstanding members of the community. In the words of Ronnie Barker in the intro to classic 70s sitcom Porridge “You are an habitual criminal, who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner.” If this honestly represents the way the career criminal feels toward capture, prosecution and imprisonment then clearly it’s up to the general public to take steps to prevent and deter crime from occurring in the first place.
There are a number of very simple steps the average home or business owner can take to prevent crime on their property.
- Lighting. A light which comes on when motion is detected will deter any but a foolish burglar. Nobody wants to be observed when they’re committing any crime so lighting is a key to warding off opportunists.
- Maintenance. According to the ‘Broken Window Effect’ if a property looks shabby or uncared for a burglar or vandal will feel emboldened because they think nobody cares anyway. Pruned hedges look smart and eliminate hiding places while maintaining paintwork lets you identify damage and any repairs needed.
- Security. It’s often necessary to boost your defences. As well as fitting security CCTV cameras to cover the windows and doors, ensure people know that you have security devices installed. Window stickers, obvious security cameras, strong shutters and secure doors put people off of even trying to break in.