Ram-raids at golf clubs, charity scams and break-ins at closed businesses among disgusting crimes in Northumberland during lockdown

Residents are being urged to be extra vigilant of criminals who might be taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 11:40 am

Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Police are working together to raise awareness of the risks of opportunistic crime, to support residents and to help keep them and their properties and possessions safe.

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At the same time, the local authority is warning people to be careful when they are giving to charity at this time.

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Northumberland households are being asked to stay vigilant

Reports of raids on closed businesses, thefts from garden sheds and individuals impersonating council officials have all been received in recent weeks.

The council has received isolated reports of people visiting properties pretending to be social workers.

Council officers have stressed that all social workers and care managers carry official identification and if residents are in any doubt about their ID they can call Onecall on 01670 536400 to check this. All genuine staff will be more than happy for residents to do this.

Coun John Riddle, chairman of the Safer Northumberland Partnership, said: “We don’t wish people to be further alarmed at what is already a stressful time for many. However, sadly, some with criminal intent are taking advantage of the situation that residents and businesses find themselves in due to coronavirus.

“We want to make residents and businesses aware of this, and ask that they are extra vigilant, and report anything that they feel is suspicious.”

‘Be vigilant – and we will bring criminals to justice’

Over the past fortnight, two golf clubs in Northumberland have been the victims of ram-raid attacks and there have also been a number of thefts from garden sheds and other properties.

Chief Superintendent Janice Hutton, of Northumbria Police, said: “We continue to work alongside our partners to protect the communities we are proud to serve. This includes carrying out proactive activity to prevent crime from happening and responding to concerns raised.

“However, when incidents do occur, please be assured we will do everything we can to find those responsible and bring them to justice.

“Please continue to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us so we can gather intelligence around those looking to target others for their own selfish gains and help ensure we focus our resources in the right areas.”

In relation to charities, while the vast majority that have been set up are well meaning and legitimate, other parts of the country have seen cases of bogus charity volunteers offering to help with shopping or claiming to be raising funds for charity.

How to keep safe

Residents should take a few simple steps if they’re considering giving to a charity they haven’t donated to before – or simply stick with one they know and trust.

Coun Cath Homer said: “There are so many amazing charities supporting vulnerable people across Northumberland we can’t thank them enough.

“However, we wouldn’t want the actions of a tiny minority to take anything away from those who are working flat out to help support our communities.

“There are thousands of volunteers, numerous support and welfare groups and countless individuals working day in and day out during this crisis and we just want to ensure everyone’s generosity goes to those that need it most.”

Simple ways of making sure you give safely to registered charities include:

Check the charity’s name and registration number at gov.uk/checkcharity. Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered;

Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them;

Exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online, visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself;

Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.

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