Keeping the neighbourhood safe

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The whitchurch neighbourhood watch

Please go to the Community/Emergencies page of this website to report information by email, or update on 101.  As with anything that is happening now and is serious, or has just happened – please phone 999. 

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In these troubled times it’s more important than ever to look out for our neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or alone and self isolating.

Be on the lookout for unusual activity, suspicious phone calls and scams. It’s a time when many of us may be feeling anxious, isolated and vulnerable, so let’s all pull together to support one another.

Whitchurch has a successful and active Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Contact Neil Smith if you want to report something, Email: Neil.h.smith@hotmail.co.uk  or tel: 01296 640927

POLICE

Our local neighbourhood police station is at Wing. Further details are on the Emergencies Page, above.  Photos of our local police team are on the village noticeboards

If in doubt, please call the Police on 999 for an emergency, or 101 to report anything else.

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Here is your local Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for December 2020 (earlier editions are further below):

Reported crimes and incidents 15th October to 15th November

There was a ramraid at Barrettstown Manor between 10 and 11 am on Wednesday, 21st October.   They attempted to get into two garages and drove at the owner to make their escape.  The police were informed.   The vehicle used was a grey box transit van – L806 DXR (false plates).   The criminals had earlier that day tried unsuccessfully to rob a nursery between Whitchurch and Cublington.

Scam alerts

Criminals have been targeting people selling items online by sending them emails claiming to be from PayPal.   The emails trick victims into believing they’ve received payment for the items they’re selling.   Typically, after receiving these emails, victims will ship the item to the criminal.   This leaves them with the double whammy of not having received payment for the item and no longer being in possession of it.

How can you protect yourself?

• SELLERS BEWARE:  If you’re selling items online, be aware of the warning signs that your buyer is a scammer.  They may have negative feedback history, or may have recently set up a new account to avoid getting poor feedback.   Don’t be persuaded into sending anything until you can verify you’ve received the payment.

• SCAM MESSAGES:  Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

• HOW TO SPOT THE DIFFERENCE:  A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and will never ask you for your full password, bank account or credit card details.

Another PayPal scam doing the rounds is a credible-looking email claiming to be from PayPal saying that the recipient’s transaction has been declined because their payment card hasn’t been confirmed.  They are then asked to click on a bogus link to confirm their card, which reveals their card details to the fraudsters.

If you receive such an email, please forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at report@phishing.gov.uk  

Covid-19 Scams

Our Watch (the umbrella organisation of Neighbourhood Watch) has produced a list of the most common Covid scams and advice on how to avoid them.   This can be found at:  https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/news/neighbourhood-watch-response-covid-19/be-aware-covid-19-scams-and-crimes

 

Protect your passwords in 3 easy steps

Managing your online passwords can be overwhelming – from which characters to use to remembering what it is in the first place!   If strengthening your passwords is something you keep putting off, there are 3 easy steps you can take:

1. Create a separate password for your email account

2. Use 3 random words (although a combination of alpha, numeric and symbols will be stronger – Editor)

3. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

To find out more about how to do this visit:  www.ourwatch.org.uk/passwords

For further advice about staying safe online visit the NCSC’s website at: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/home

Frosty Mornings

With winter now upon us, it’s windscreen scraping time again.   Don’t be tempted to start your engine and let the car defrost while you nip indoors for a quick cuppa.   Thieves look for such opportunities – and apart from the loss of your vehicle you may well discover that your insurance policy does not cover the theft!

TV Licences for over75s

You may be aware that free TV licences for those over 75 (funded by the Government) came to an end this year.   From 1st August, anyone aged 75 or over who is not in receipt of Pension Credit (a benefit available to pensioners on low incomes) needs to pay for their TV licence.

TV Licensing have been sending out letters about this (you may have already received yours).  It’s important to check that the communication you receive is genuine.   Here are some ways you can check:

• You will not be rushed into making a payment. You have two months from the date of the letter to apply for your licence.   Anything telling you that it’s time-critical will be a scam.

• The TV licensing team will never phone you just to ask for your bank or card details.

• They will only email you in response to an email you’ve sent them, or if you’ve used their website to change your details (or buy a licence).

You can find out more at www.tvl.co.uk/scams

‘Tis not the season of goodwill for thieves

They will be on the lookout for your Christmas presents – sneaking a look through your windows or letterbox, so resist putting them around the tree until Christmas Eve.   Thieves and pickpockets will also be out in force at shopping centres and car parks watching for your gifts being left in cars while you carry on with your Christmas shopping.   So always store your goodies out of sight and remember to lock your car!        

And finally …   Thank you to our wonderful community for helping to solve local crimes.  You are the eyes and ears of the police in our village and your help and vigilance is invaluable.

And of course huge thanks to all the volunteers and carers who gave so much of their time to help those more vulnerable members of our community through the pandemic.   This dreadful virus has brought out the best in many of us – making us more aware of the need to look out for one another.   Let’s hope 2021 sees our way of life returning to pre-Covid normality at long last!

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH TEAM WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A SAFE, HEALTHY AND CRIME-FREE 2021

                                                                                                           

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Advice from TVP Aylesbury: 27/7/20

KEYLESS CAR THEFTS IN AYLESBURY VALE:

ADVICE:

Store your car keys in a metal tin or a signal blocking pouch (aka Faraday Bag).

Turn off your keyless fob’s wireless signal if possible – check your car’s manual.

Park defensively if possible (eg. Block your ‘keyless’ car in with another vehicle that

Be on the lookout for unusual activity, suspicious phone calls and scams. It’s a time when many of us may be feeling anxious, isolated and vulnerable, so let’s all pull together to support one another.

Whitchurch has a successful and active Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Contact Neil Smith if you want to report something, Email: Neil.h.smith@hotmail.co.uk  or tel: 01296 640927

POLICE

Our local neighbourhood police station is at Wing. Further details are on the Emergencies Page, above.  Photos of our local police team are on the village noticeboards

If in doubt, please call the Police on 999 for an emergency, or 101 to report anything else.

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Here is your local Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for November 2020:

Reported crimes and incidents 15th September to 14th October
I’ve received no reports of any crimes or anti-social behaviour in the village during this period.

Covid-related scam alerts

Trading Standards have warned that criminals are evolving their behaviour to rip off consumers as the coronavirus crisis develops. Some of these scams include: Criminals have sent fake government emails offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information from victims.

Fraudsters have been sending scam emails which offer access to ‘Covid-19 relief funds’, encouraging victims to complete a form with their personal information.
Criminals have been targeting people with official-looking emails offering a ‘council tax reduction’. These emails, which use government branding, contain links which lead to a fake government website which is used to access personal and financial information. Fraudsters are also preying on benefit recipients, offering to help apply for Universal Credit, while taking some of the payment as an advance for their ‘services’.

Criminals claiming to be from the NHS Test and Trace service are sending phishing emails and links saying that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid- 19. These lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.

Victims are being targeted by fake adverts for Covid-related products such as hand sanitiser and face masks which don’t exist.

Criminals are sending fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months free TV licence. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website used to steal personal and financial information.

Claims of ‘miracle cures’ including fake treatments or quick-turnaround tests.
Remember, remember the rule of six this Bonfire Night!

With this year’s village bonfire night celebrations having been cancelled, the rule against social gatherings of more than six people means garden fireworks displays are set to be smaller. Please remember to keep pets indoors and be aware of local livestock if you are setting off your own fireworks.

Be Safe, Be Seen

  • With the nights drawing in, whether you walk, cycle, use public transport or drive, make sure you can be seen!  On a dark, wet night – drivers cannot see pedestrians/cyclists who are dressed in black!

You can view exemplar photos by visiting our News page, from the menu above.

Our local Neighbourhood Policing Team and police office have changed
Following council boundary changes earlier this year, our Neighbourhood Policing Team has now changed from Winslow & District to Wing & Ivinghoe. Our local PCSO Tina Hobson is based there – contact details are as follows:
Tina Hobson, C9336, Wing Neighbourhood Team, Wing Police Office, Leighton Road, Wing, Leighton Buzzard, Beds., LU7 0NN. Email: tina.hobson@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

If you wish to report non-emergency incidents via email, their address is: greatbrickhillwingivinghoenhpt@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk
You can see a poster with details and photos of the team on our village notice boards.
Advice about installing and using CCTV

If you are considering installing (or already have) CCTV, the following link gives some practical advice and information about its use – particularly in relation to privacy laws. One thing to bear in mind is that if a video shows a crime taking place, it could be used as evidence, in which case it must be seen by an impartial jury. If the video has been widely shared, it could be claimed that the jury can’t be impartial, making it an unfair trial, which could be enough for the case to be thrown out of court. So be careful what you share! https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/crime-prevention/crime-prevention-advice/cctv-domestic- property

Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free November. Andrea Scagell

Here is your local Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for October 2020

Reported crimes and incidents 17th August to 14th September

I have received no reports of crime or anti-social behaviour in the village during this period.

Scam Alert

A number of villagers (including myself) have been receiving scam phone calls from a man (my caller said

his name was Malcolm) claiming that loft insulation installed using a government grant could be faulty and

causing damp. ‘Malcolm’was keen to come round that very day and inspect my property! If you get such

a call, put the phone down and please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-

phishing

You can use this link to report any suspicious emails, phone calls, text messages, pop-ups or social media

messages.

There are also emails around claiming to be from DVLA saying that there are ‘irregularities in your current

profile’ and that you need to update it to avoid termination of your driving licence. There is a form to fill in

which you should obviously ignore!

If you get any suspicious emails, these can be forwarded to The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at

report@phishing.gov.uk

Also in the wider area there have been reports of phone scammers (claiming to be a local health co-ordinator

or similar) offering personal alarms that hang around your neck. They are keen to try and fix up an

appointment for a home visit. Genuine companies will never contact you out of the blue. If you get such a

call, put the phone down. It would be helpful if you could also report any such incidents to Action Fraud at

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing

Postal scams are also making a bit of a comeback. For example, you may have been told you’ve won a

prize. Unless you actually did enter that prize draw or competition and can verify the source, BIN IT!

Leave a light on – and burglars in the dark!

The nights are drawing in – and with the clocks going back at the end of October, it’s a good time to invest

in light timers or a fake TV to make your home look occupied while you are out.

New PCSO for Whitchurch

We are pleased to welcome a new PCSO to the village. Tina Hobson – based at Wing police office, has

taken over from our old PCSO – Alex Brown. Tina can be contacted at the following email address:

tina.hobson@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk We look forward to seeing you around the village Tina.

Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free October. Andrea Scagell

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September bulletin:

Reported crimes and incidents 15th July to 16th August

I received a report from a couple in the village who had a credit card payment taken from their bank account by a Swedish company.  It appears that their credit card may have been cloned.   Thankfully the bank has reimbursed them.   If such a thing happens to you, please report it to your bank, the police and Action Fraud.   You can report it online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or ring 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday, 8am – 8 pm.

Scam Alert

We received a report in August from a resident who said he was phoned by a lady saying “we are in the area and will be calling round to discuss security measures”.   The resident asked her which company she was from and the caller immediately rang off.    If you receive such a call, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing or ring them (see number above).

Action Fraud is also warning the public about phishing emails sent out by criminals claiming to be from PayPal.   The emails state the recipient’s account has been “limited” as a result of a policy violation.

The emails then ask for customers to update their account, or check the security of their account by clicking a link in the email. These links lead to genuine-looking websites that are actually phishing sites designed to steal PayPal login details, as well as personal and financial information.

A genuine PayPal email will only ever address you by your full name – anything that starts differently should immediately raise your suspicions.   Look out for spelling mistakes, which are a common tell-tale sign of a fraudulent message.  If you have any concerns regarding a PayPal email you have received, you should send it to spoof@paypal.com

What to look out for and what you should do if you receive a phishing message

Official organisations, such as your bank, won’t ask for personal or financial information by text or email. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at report@phishing.gov.uk

Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.

Confirm messages are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

To keep yourself secure online, ensure you are using the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phones, tablets and laptops. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.

Keep an eye out – keep burglars out!

Safety in Neighbours is a new campaign by Neighbourhood Watch in partnership with the Home Office to keep people safe and prevent burglaries.

Life’s safer when you know your neighbours. With more people looking out for unusual behaviour on your street, burglaries can be prevented.

As we start to come out of lockdown, more of us are leaving our homes unoccupied once again and opportunists are ready to take advantage of this. As with all types of crime, prevention is much better than cure.  Taking simple measures such as locking windows, leaving indoor lights on a timer, double locking your doors and leaving any exterior lights on a sensor setting can greatly reduce your chances of being burgled.   If it looks like there is someone inside, the potential burglar is likely to go elsewhere.

If you’re going away, remember that sharing your holiday plans on social media posts can also tip off burglars that your home is going to be empty, so make sure your security settings only let people you know see your posts.   Cancel milk and papers, ask a trusty friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home, recover your wheelie bin after collection and move post away from your letter or post box.  Maybe a neighbour or friend could park their car on your drive while you’re away.   Be a good neighbour and do the same for them.

For a comprehensive security checklist, visit:  https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/2020-07/A5%20Burglary%20Leaflet%20v5_1.pdf

Drone Code

There was a report of a drone flying directly over the village (which is illegal) early in August.   A reminder of the ‘drone code’ can be found at: https://dronesafe.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Drone-Code_October2019.pdf

Prefer to read your news online?

You can find Neighbourhood Watch monthly updates and Whitchurch News in full on the village’s fab website at: https://www.whitchurch.org/

Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free August.                      Andrea Scagell

Past  Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for August 2020:

Reported crimes and incidents 15th June to 14th July

I’ve received no reports of crimes or anti-social behaviour in the village during this period.

Scam Alert

The latest scams to look out for include:

  • Covid-19 phishing quizzes on social media that trick people into answering questions that give their personal information to fraudsters.

  • Home working scams where fraudsters may impersonate payroll departments and internet providers.

  • Bereavement scams when fraudsters contact people claiming money has been left by a deceased relative and asking for bank details.

  • Council Tax refund schemes where criminals send texts or emails impersonating local authorities and government bodies.   Fraudsters promise a refund, but steal bank account details and money.

  • Criminals are taking advantage of the growing demand for ‘staycations’ in the UK this summer by advertising fake listings for caravans and motorhomes on auction sites and citing lockdown restrictions as the reason vehicles can’t be viewed in person.  These vehicles are advertised at attractive prices to tempt people into believing they’re getting a good deal, when in reality they simply don’t exist or don’t arrive once paid for.

  • Scams purporting to be from Paypal, Sky, HMRC, Netflix, TV Licensing & Amazon.

How you can help protect yourself from scams

Look out for scam messages   Your bank or other official organisations won’t ask you to share personal information via email or text.    If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

Shopping online   If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first – for example by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was.  If you go ahead, use a credit card if possible when making purchases over £100 as you’ll receive free protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering technical support   Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer as a result of a cold call.  Remember, legitimate organisations will never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

For more advice visit: https://www.getsafeonline.org/


Update on electronic scooters

In July the government approved trials of electric scooters on our roads, enabling scooter rental companies to start offering their services across the country.

Only selected rental e-scooters are expected to be allowed in trials and privately owned e-scooters will remain illegal to use on the road, cycle lanes, tracks and pavements.

Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free August.                      Andrea Scagell                                                           

Past Neighbourhood Watch bulletin, for July 2020:

Reported crimes and incidents 15th May to 14th June

I’ve received no reports of crimes or anti-social behaviour in the village during this period.

Scam Alert

In May Whitchurch Surgery posted reports of a possible scam, with some women being contacted by text message claiming to be from the Call and Recall Service, to advise they are overdue for screening. The message asks them to call a mobile number and provide personal details.  These messages are not from the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.   Should you receive such an approach or are concerned that you have already received one, please tell the practice so that the NHS Fraud team can be informed.    

Over £5 million has been reported lost by victims of coronavirus-related scams!   With the NHS Test and Trace service now up and running, how will we know the difference between a genuine contact tracer and a potential scammer? 

Contact tracers will:

·         call you from 0300 013 5000

·         send you text messages from ‘NHS’

·         ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating

·         ask if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms

·         provide advice on what you must do as you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus

Contact tracers will never:

·         ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (e.g. those starting 09 or 087)

·         ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind

·         ask for any details about your bank account

·         ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts

·         ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set these up over the phone

·         disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts

·         provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms

·         ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else

If you think you’ve been sent a scam email, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk

I’m afraid the list of Coronavirus-related scams continues as there has been an increase in reports about a virus-related TV Licensing scam.   The fraudsters claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution.   They are told they are eligible for a “COVID-19 Personalized Offer” of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.

There has also been an increase in emails and texts sent by fraudsters claiming to be from the Department for Work and Pensions.   The DWP will never text or email asking for your personal information or bank details.

The advice – as always is – don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details.

Reporting suspicious behaviour to the police

Annoyingly, there is currently no way of specifically reporting suspicious behaviour to the police online!   However, one of our committee members actually received a prompt response when she went through this route – https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/contact-us-to-discuss-something-else/ even though the website says it can take up to two working days to get a response!    So it’s worth a try if you are having no luck getting through on 101.   You can also email Winslow police on winslowanddistrictnhpt@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk

Safe as houses

With lockdown restrictions easing and some people starting to return to work, burglars will be looking for the tell-tale signs that you’re not at home.   So do all you can to make your home look occupied and more secure.   Programmable light, TV and radio timers (set to a talk station) all act as deterrents.  Or consider a fake TV which comes on automatically at dusk and simulates the light emitted by a real telly.  Burglar alarms and outside security lights are also off-putting to intruders.  Think too about ways you can improve security in your garden and outbuildings, which not only keeps bikes and other valuables in your shed and garage safe, but can also stop burglars getting into your home.    And when you’ve finished in the garden for the day, try and remember to lock away your tools as they can be used to break into your home.   It’s all about making it as difficult as possible for the thieves.

With (hopefully) lovely warm weather upon us, there will be a temptation to leave ground floor windows and doors open.   So if you’re upstairs or out of the room – even just for a few minutes – close them and help keep the burglars out.

More tips on protecting your home can be found at:  https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/protect-your-home-by-protecting-your-garden

 

Wishing you a safe, healthy and crime-free July.                      Andrea Scagell