The council’s crime prevention team is warning residents of a sophisticated new scam being used by burglars to target homes in the borough.
There are growing concerns that burglars are using accomplices to identify vulnerable properties in the borough and then marking them out with discreet plastic stickers.
*The scouts are fixing the small, virtually transparent stickers to people’s front doors. They are so discreet that residents may not even notice they are there – but for criminals who know what to look for – they act as a big green light that the property is an easy target.
Police are already linking these stickers to at least one burglary in Wandsworth. The stickers are printed with the words “24 hour locksmith” and a telephone number. However the number does not exist and does not appear to have ever been issued by a telecoms company.
Detectives believe the scout is sent to an area to look for homes that may be easier to burgle. The belief is that he or she calls at addresses to see if people are at home during the day. This also gives them the chance to get up close to doors and windows and check out how good the locks are.
If the scout thinks the home would be easy to break into – he or she leaves a sticker on the door. If they are stopped by the police they can claim to be innocently distributing marketing material for the locksmiths firm.
The council’s crime prevention spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “There is growing evidence that some organised teams of burglars may be using this method to target homes in south London. We are therefore urging local residents to keep a very close eye out for these stickers and if they find one to remove it straight away and report it to the police. It also goes without saying that if people can beef up their home security by fitting sturdy locks to doors and windows and alarms then this will always reduce the chances of them falling victim to thieves and burglars.”
Insp David Bannister from Wandsworth police said: “At this time of year with the darker evenings there is traditionally a rise in burglaries, particularly between 3pm and 7pm. There have been a number of front doors found with stickers, giving details of a locksmith, which enquires reveal is not a genuine company. These are placed near the main lock. It is assessed that these markers are being used by potential burglars to mark potential targets which are then returned to subsequently.
“Police enquires continue. However please report any such labels found at your home address to police. Please phone 101 and ask to speak to your neighbourhood policing team.”