Well here we are approaching the end of another year. I hope everyone survived Halloween and Bonfire night. I have not heard of any problems in this area but was aware that in some areas groups of children were reported to be roaming around smashing up pumpkins. Wanton vandalism, even if you do not agree with the festival.
Again as far as I am aware the village has been reasonably crime free. I am aware that there was a break in to a property in Southfields. Access was gained by breaking the rear door and as well as the property being ransacked money and jewellery was taken. No one in the vicinity heard or saw anything. This is the second incident in this area and of a very similar style and items stolen were very similar. I have heard that someone may have been arrested for this incident but this has yet to be confirmed.
As everyone is aware by now the Police are under extreme pressure at the moment due to a shortage of manpower, financial constraints and an increase of drug related crimes, a lot of which involves consistent re-offenders. The next major crime at this time appears to be cyber crime. It is definitely on the increase and I can imagine becoming a nightmare for the various security organisations to combat. Every time they shut one thing down the criminals find another way to rip us off.
It would appear by the number of calls I have had from villagers that nearly all of us have had a call or mail from HMRC (Inland Revenue) stating that you are due a massive refund or that you are about to be taken to court for non payment. They even give a name and contact phone number. DO NOT REPLY to anything. If you want to make sure it is not genuine then turn out any old records and phone a legitimate number for the tax office. If it is genuine they will confirm or if they are unaware of the scam then they will ask you to give details to their fraud department.
I had a problem with my laptop in that some of my keys would not work. This went on for hours and I got so fed up that I decided to get in touch with Microsoft. That is a task in itself, as no numbers appear to be available so I went onto my tablet and phoned the first number that came up for a Microsoft help desk. Yes they could help, and they stated that after me giving them access to my laptop yes it had been infected with a virus, and they could reset it for me. This was over a period of one and a half hours. It was only when they asked for £250 by credit card to do this did I become suspicious and shut everything down. I immediately contacted MacAfee who stated that everything was fine and that these companies are scammers. They scanned my systems for any hackers and informed me to reboot the laptop and reset all passwords. I was lucky that nothing was affected and that I did not give out any passwords or bank details. The moral here is DO NOT phone the first number you find on the internet without double checking its web address.
Only last week my daughter had a text from her bank saying that there had been some unusual activity on one of her accounts and to contact them immediately. The number given was an actual bank number but somehow the hackers could intercept the call. They informed her that a large sum of money had been taken from her business account. They obviously wanted to get further bank details to complete their transfer, luckily my daughter does not have a lot of her business details as my wife deals with the internet banking. After about two hours, with the scammers acting as middle spokesperson to her and her bank, pretending they were her, she told them she would get more information and get back to them. Luckily in this time she actually got through to the real bank and was told it was all a scam. A small amount of money had been transferred between her accounts and the bank had no idea how it had happened. They put a block on all transactions and are investigating it all. She will get the money refunded as the bank cannot work out how the transfer took place without them picking it up. The lesson to be learnt here is if you get a notification of anything from a banking group with a contact number DO NOT use it. Only phone the numbers on the back of your bank cards. Explain your problem and they will confirm whether a scam or genuine.
With Christmas upon us my annual advice is as always. Do not leave shopping or handbags on show in your house or vehicle. Be aware who is beside you when putting your card numbers into machines at counters or bank cash machines. Split cash amounts into smaller packages and place in separate places, so that if cash is taken from your pocket or purse you still have some in a different location. Be careful that after putting shopping into your car you do not drive off with items or your purse on the top of the vehicle.
I wish you all a crime free and enjoyable festive period.
Jim Jilbert, village co-ordinator. 01225 763314