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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 21 January 2006

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POLICE in Sefton are cracking down on car crime and issuing advice to motorists on how to reduce the possibility of falling victim to opportunist
car thieves.

Offenders have been placing a 'hook and cane', or other instrument through the letter box and fishing out car keys left near to the front door and there have been several instances access has been gained through doors or windows, inadvertently left open by householders.

Victims of these offences have not only suffered the loss of their vehicles, but also have to suffer the added expense and inconvenience, of having to replace all the locks in the house.

Detective Inspector Steve Jones said:- "We know that there are criminals working in the area who either steal cars using the hook and cane method, or take older cars, which do not have modern security such as immobilisers.  Clearly, having your car stolen, or broken into like this, is always distressing.  However, the people of Sefton should be reassured that Merseyside Police will be cracking down hard on those who commit these crimes and they can help us to do so.  I would urge local residents to do two things to help us. One - keep your car keys away from your front door, or anywhere where they are easily accessible. Also, lock your front and back doors. We know some cars are stolen simply because the opportunity is there - and an offender can walk into a house when the door is open.

Since the 1 December, 40% of burglaries where cars have been stolen have happened because offenders have simply entered via insecure front doors or insecure windows. In many cases the front doors are of the double glazed Upvc type where, when closed the door is not locked until the handle is pulled upwards and the key turned.  I'd also like to remind people who have garages to use them. Home Office car crime figures indicate that a car is 16 times more likely to be stolen from a driveway, than when it is parked in a garage. But despite this, 7 out of 10 garage owners still tend to leave their cars on the driveway, and use the garage as a utility room or for storing other household goods.

It is imperative for home owners to ensure that windows and doors are locked before going to bed and that all car and house keys are kept out of sight from the front door or vestibule area of the house, particularly those with glass panelled doors or porches. Denying offenders access to the rear of the property will also help to prevent offences of this nature, and anti-scaling measures can be fitted to the top of fencing or gate posts at
the side of the premises, providing adequate warning notices are displayed.  A domestic intruder alarm is another effective deterrent, and internal locks, fitted to rear kitchen and living room doors, will help prevent a burglar gaining access to the rest of the house."

We and our partners are committed to making Sefton a safer place to live, visit and work, and our message to car criminals is that there really will be nowhere to hide, and you will be caught."

If you have any information that could help police with their inquiries contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Stay Safe Be Seen, Free Road Safety Stickers for Schools in the North West

CAR HIRE specialist is offering free reflective road safety stickers for schools in the North West as part of its national Road Sense 2006 campaign, the No.1 online car hire company, has re-launched its successful Road Sense campaign this winter to help improve safety for all road users. The campaign is set to address issues such as road safety, Road Bullying, dangerous driving, and in particular the safety of female drivers.

The 2005 Road Sense campaign saw over 50,000 reflective stickers provided to schools across the country and, following on from this success, the company is expecting demand to be even higher. For Road Sense 2006 the stickers have been re-designed and is offering them free to schools up and down the country to help protect pupils from the dangers of dark nights and hazardous driving conditions.

Andrew Stevens, managing director of, said:- "Winter driving conditions can be extremely treacherous and as part of our Road Sense campaign we want to encourage schools in the North West to take action over child road safety. By offering reflective stickers to schools free of charge we hope to help protect children from the dangers on our roads, while building awareness among drivers, parents, schools and the children themselves about the importance of road safety."

The yellow reflective stickers are designed to stick on school bags, blazers or coats to help ensure children are seen by motorists and reduce the risk of accidents.

To apply for Road Sense stickers schools should visit and apply online. This offer is subject to availability.

The Road Sense 2006 campaign also includes a range of offers for female drivers with companies including The Carphone Warehouse and UK Open Learning, together with a series of downloadable advice tips.

Warning for Warrington!

HOUSEHOLDERS across Warrington are being warned by Trading Standards to be on their guard against traders who offer free damp surveys and repair work.

The advice is being issued after the Council's Trading Standards team was alerted to reports that a company using the name 'Britannia' and 'Britannia Home Improvements' had been approaching householders in Warrington saying they are working in the area and offering a free survey to check for damp and mould problems.  Where the resident expresses interest the caller will arrange an appointment and may give the resident a security code to quote back to the surveyor when they call.

Enquiries with Trading Standards in the West Midlands show that householders who agree to a similar survey are likely to be exposed to a high pressure sales pitch, particularly if they are elderly or otherwise vulnerable.  Householders in that area have ended up paying for overpriced, poor quality, unnecessary work.

Past experience of similar companies working in Warrington suggest that this company may be highly active during the next few weeks.

Cllr Pat Wright, Executive Board Member for Community Services, said:- "We are warning householders to be very wary if they are approached by people offering to do free surveys in their home and to look out for elderly and vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours. It is more than likely they will be subjected to a high pressure sales pitch and could be persuaded to part with a considerable amount of money. I would advise anyone who is approached by this company to contact the Trading Standards' team on 01925 442678."
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