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The Ash Aspect: Burglary Can Be A Life-Changing Trauma

Published on: 7 Dec, 2017
Updated on: 8 Dec, 2017

By David Reading

It was a Friday morning in late summer. The man who knocked on the front door of my house in Ash was middle-aged and shabbily-dressed. His colleague stood at the end of the drive.

The caller thought my roof needed a bit of repair work and said that if I accompanied him around the side of the building he would show me what he meant. Meanwhile, he said, could his colleague use the toilet urgently as he had a small medical problem? I was a bit flustered, but didn’t want to appear mean and so said he could use the downstairs toilet, just inside the house on the ground floor.

While his colleague went into the toilet, caller No.1 asked me to follow him round the side of the house.

Immediately I knew what was going on. A few years previously my elderly father-in-law, who suffered from dementia, had been preyed on by two “workmen” who claimed to have done house repairs for him. On several occasions they had forced him to accompany them to his bank in Guildford, where he drew out hundreds of pounds at a time. The total amount of money he handed over ran into many thousands.

So when I was confronted by those two callers at my own home, alarm bells rang. I realised what was going on. Despite the attempts to lure me round the back, leaving the inside of the house unguarded, I stood firm and eventually sent them packing.

Although this incident happened a few years ago, I was reminded of it on hearing the recent news that a number of homes in the Ash Lodge Drive area of Ash had been targeted by thieves. People may not realise the shock that can be suffered through burglary and other forms of theft.

A friend of mine who lived just over the border in Aldershot returned home with his wife one night to find the place in a shambles. Thieves had stolen hundreds of pounds worth of valuables. But that wasn’t the worst of it. The victims had been thoroughly traumatised. Within months they had sold their house and moved to the Isle of Wight.

In my father-in-law’s case, there was a satisfactory outcome. A final attempt by the two men to extract more money from him ended with the bank staff calling the police. A high-speed chase followed, which ended when the thieves lost control of their car and crashed it into a lorry. The men and their look-out accomplice received heavy sentences at Guildford Crown Court.

The recent burglaries in Ash may be part of a temporary crime wave, but it’s good to be prepared and the police have good advice for people who want to avoid being victims of theft.

According to the police, homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures. Good window locks and strong deadlocks can make a big difference.

Here are a few tips the police offer:

  • Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you’re outside in the garden
  • Hide all keys out of sight and away from the letterbox
  • Install a visual burglar alarm and good outside lighting
  • Leave radios or lights in your house on a timer to make the property appear occupied
  • Make sure the fences around your garden are in good condition
  • Lock side gates
  • Make sure that fencing at the back of the house is in good repair
  • Improve natural surveillance at the front of your house – for example, trim high hedges
  • Mark your property with postcode and house number and register your property for free:
  • Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows
  • Store any high value items (such as jewellery and passports) in a secured safe or bank vault

The kind of attempted theft that happened at my house is known as a distraction burglary. The police offer this advice: Check the identity of any caller by contacting the company they are claiming to represent. Use the telephone numbers listed in your local directory. Do not use any phone numbers provided by the caller – they may be bogus. The “water board” no longer exists – it is an obsolete phrase used only by bogus callers.

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Responses to The Ash Aspect: Burglary Can Be A Life-Changing Trauma

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    December 11, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I was advised by very helpful police officers, after our burglary in West Horsley, to mark all valuable items with ‘DNA’ markers. These show up on stolen goods under ultraviolet light, and the signage at all entrances tends to put them off.


    Very easy to use.

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