OWL swoops in to help prevent crime during Neighbourhood Watch Week
Main article content
Finding missing people, preventing scams and distraction thefts and finding stolen vehicles are just some of the recent successes of OWL (Online Watch Link) in Hertfordshire.
There’s no better time to join the 178,144 Hertfordshire households already signed up to OWL (opens in a new window) during Neighbourhood Watch Week, this week.
“This year’s theme is ‘making this a better place to live,’ which is exactly what Neighbourhood Watch is all about working with police officers across the county to improve people’s quality of life,” said Community Safety Inspector Nicki Dean. “Why not join the thousands of people already signed up to receive local police and partner messages to help prevent crime from happening in the first place.”
OWL members regularly receive local messages – usually via email and mobile phone ‘alerts’ - about local issues with relevant crime prevention advice.
Did you know? Each year we send:
32 million emails/texts/phone calls.
8 million crime alerts.
4,967 messages about incidents or events.
She explained: “There’s no need to do anything other than read the message and act on any crime prevention advice. We receive dozens of replies to our messages every week and I’d especially like to thank those who have contacted us to tell us about missing people, suspicious activity or to let us know you have avoided a scam because of a message we have sent. I’d also like to thank the 6,700 volunteers across the county who help Neighbourhood Watch’s success in Hertfordshire with the support of the award-winning OWL system – which is one of the best in the country.”
A woman recognised a missing woman at a St Albans takeaway from an OWL appeal and contacted police. She was reunited with her family.
A Watford PCSO sent a message out on OWL about a theft of a motor vehicle in Callowlands and Leggatts – an OWL member contacted her to let her know that a car matching the description had been moved from her street. This helped provide vital information to the investigating team.
An elderly woman from Hitchin contacted us informing us that a man had tried to distract her at Waitrose car park – she said that she knew to be on her guard after seeing an OWL message that week warning people about distraction thefts in supermarket car parks in North Herts. She later reported it to Waitrose and was not scammed by the man.
A woman from Welwyn Garden City contacted us to say: "My son received a letter with an offer to upgrade to a smart gas meter supposedly from British Gas. But as I pay for all power bills it had to be a scam, and your OWL warnings in recent weeks helped confirm this.”
Cyber Protect Officers were at Stevenage Central library delivering a crime prevention session when an elderly resident visited the library to complete an online bank transfer for commemorative Coronation coins. He was advised that it was a scam and he was fortunately spared the loss of more than £1,600.
An OWL message posted on behalf of Reach Out Hertfordshire – who provide companionship and practical support for older people – asked for volunteers. The manager said: “We have recruited and inducted an incredible 149 volunteers throughout the county, who are now either matched, or ready to match with an elderly person in their neighbourhood. We are still following up on more queries from people. To put this in context, in comparison, we trained more new volunteers from that single OWL message than we were able to recruit in the five months previously! Not only have we recruited a wonderful team of volunteers, but your message has also helped us to diversify our reach throughout the county.”
Inspector Dean added: “We are able to send out messages at the click of a button to local residents about a range of incidents including neighbouring burglaries, current scams and neighbourhood events and police surgeries.”
Log on to OWL (opens in a new window) or download the ‘OWL crime alerts’ app on your mobile to receive your local police and relevant partner messages, for example a message about water safety during the summer months.