Sunday, 10 May 2015

CCTV and thieving scum

To make sure our fifth wedding anniversary would be a memorable one today, yesterday we were unburgled.
"Unburgled?" I hear you say. "Shirley you mean burgled..."
Well technically, yes, if you want to be all picky about it. And don't call me...

Those legs are calling out to be broken
Let me explain.

In the very early hours of Thursday morning I thought I heard a car door shut and a vehicle drive away. That's not illegal, and there's a parking spot nearby on the public side of the wall, but it got me a bit paranoid so I broke out the CCTV system I'd been meaning to get set up. For some reason our priorities had been elsewhere and that had taken a back seat. In retrospect we'd taken our eye off the security ball completely and got a little too complacent too quickly.

So I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by setting it up from the shed where we're sleeping and pointing it at the house where we could also keep an eye on deliveries without having to jump up and run outside whenever we heard a random vehicle during the day.

With that in mind I only set two cameras up - one pointing directly at the front of the house and the other looking along the side of the property to capture anything that parked out of view of the first. Cam 1 had a decent view/picture but the other was further back so wasn't as useful but would still let us know if anything was there.

Yesterday morning, Saturday, Dawn and I went out to do various thin
gs such as look at log burners, go to B&Q and stuff like that. We left at 10.30am and got back at about 5.30pm. A nice day was had by all. 

A few minutes after returning I was brushing the cat round the back by the garage when I noticed the garage doors were open a little bit. Which was when I found the padlock hasp hanging partially off and the fixing screws all bent. There was also a footprint left on the door from where someone had got leverage.

We had a good look around - the cover was off a motorbike we keep in there but that was it. Nothing else was missing from the garage, our power tools were still in the unlocked outbuildings and there was no sign of a break-in around the house itself. But why was the hasp still kind of attached to the garage door? It was a huge head-scratcher. We called the police on 101 and waited.

Sian, our friendly PCSO, turned up with a colleague and called forensics for the footprint, and he turned up a while later, dusted for prints, took an impression of the footprint and left.

Meanwhile I'd started going through the CCTV for answers, but two things: 1) Had the attempted burglary even happened today? Neither of us had been in the garage since the previous Monday, so it could have been any time; 2) The CCTV system isn't set up properly so it was recording constantly rather than using motion detection - reviewing the footage would take ages...

By 11pm we were just sitting down for something to eat after securing the garage again and I had got to 2pm in the footage. When 2.40pm came around we saw this (keep watching after the car drives away the first time because they come back):

I haven't uploaded footage from the second camera because it's a bit ropey, being so far away, but essentially they go in to the courtyard, take boxes of power tools and load them in to the boot of the car. When they spot the CCTV camera they bring the car back around, put all the tools back where they found them and try to cover their tracks by pushing the padlock and hasp back in to place. They unburgle us. Thoughtful scumbags.

We called the police with the update and were told that a "real" officer would come around on Tuesday to look at the tape and get a copy. Meanwhile I'm keeping an eye out for the old maroon Audi everywhere I go. It's not a particularly common vehicle, so I might get lucky. What'll happen if I see it is anyone's guess...

Needless to say last night was sleepless (for me - Dawn was also very concerned but nothing keeps her from her beauty sleep) because I was worried they would come back to get the footage off the CCTV hard drive. They had obviously seen the shed, which was when they saw the camera, and I was concerned. So I lay in bed with my clothes on and a big metal bar on the floor, ready to break legs.

Today I'm buying a cricket bat, but only because I haven't got a shotgun licence.

UPDATE (July 11, 2015)

We have had a professional HD CCTV system installed that will not only (literally) pick out a car registration plate perfectly at half a mile but - with a few tweaks - will shoot dead anyone who looks even slightly shifty within 10 metres of the property.

We have also put up a truly massive bright yellow CCTV warning sign at the main gate, which means that anyone who misses it really shouldn't be allowed outdoors without supervision and they certainly shouldn't be anywhere near the drivers' seat of a car.

It was an unexpected four-figure expense, but an absolutely essential one that gave us pretty good peace of mind as soon as those beautifully pin-sharp cameras were switched on.

Meanwhile, although I was eventually banned from buying a cricket bat by Dawn (something to do with the trifling issue of premeditation) I'm sure I'll be able to find a similar-sized length of scaffolding lying around the property should the need arise...

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