Beware the Twelve Online Frauds of Christmas

This advice from West Midlands Police is so relevant I’m reproducing it in it’s entirety (well why re-invent the wheel).


Link to 'Twelve Online Frauds of Christmas' LeafletFollowing last week’s warnings over ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ police have launched a ‘12 online frauds of Christmas’ campaign to protect thousands of people from falling victim to cyber-fraudsters.

Working in partnership with the national policing lead for fraud, City of London Police, WMP are hoping that by focusing on some simple ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of online shopping, they may reduce the number of people that fall victim to criminals at this time of year.

So far in 2014 74 per cent of all adults nationwide have bought goods or services online, and this December around 50 per cent of UK citizens are expected to use the internet to buy more than half of their Christmas presents.
The good news is the majority of us will still have our presents delivered to our doorstep or into our email account without a hitch.
However, the sad reality is there will also be tens of thousands of people across the UK whose Christmas will be damaged, and in some cases destroyed, after finding out they have fallen foul of heartless criminals who specialise in tricking internet users with the promise of great online deals and big cash savings.
The campaign focuses on activity that people may not be aware could cause them harm such as the hazards of opening Christmas e-Cards sent via email which may be carrying a virus (malware) that can embed itself and then corrupt your smart phone, tablet or laptop.

Throughout the beginning of December the campaign will flag up the threat of twelve online festive frauds, identified by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). These include auction fraud, holiday fraud, donating to charity, social media and online dating scams.
Police will be sharing top safety tips via traditional and social media with more internet safety advice available at: and
Police are also urging anyone who has had the misfortune to fall victim to one of the dozen festive frauds, or any other type of cyber-fraud, to report to Action Fraud − the City of London Police-based national reporting centre – on 0300 123 040 or at:

Protect Your Stuff From The Vehicle Burglars

Vehicle crime is a hot topic here at Walsall Police at the moment, mainly because we’ve seen an increase in vehicle-related crime in many areas of the borough and are focusing a lot of attention on reducing it.  To achieve this we’re concentrating on two approaches: firstly, catch the people who are doing it and secondly, advise vehicle owners on how they can avoid becoming a victim.  Which is where this blog comes in.

Vehicle-related crime can be split into two main categories; theft from and theft of.  Let’s look at theft from vehicles first.  In general this can be split into two areas, the theft of items from within the vehicle, and the theft of parts from the vehicle, mainly number plates.

check-your-fob-has-done-its-jobThe theft of items from within the vehicle is something that can be prevented by simply removing said items!  Rather than leaving things on show or even in the glove compartment, take them with you if you can.  If you can’t, leave them out of sight in the boot.  It isn’t, as they say, rocket science.  Even something with little or no value, a coat or some loose change, will tempt the thief.  £1 may not be much to you, but to a drug addict desperate to buy their next fix, the pound or so in your centre console is a fortune.  The next step you can take is to ensure your vehicle is locked.  You’d be surprised at just how many cars are left unlocked, presenting an easy target to the thieves, which is why West Midlands Police have launched the ‘Check You Fob Has Done It’s Job’ campaign.  Here’s just a few recent examples of thefts from unlocked vehicles in Walsall:

2 October – Pelsall – overnight – sat nav taken from glove box.
26/10 – Bloxwich – tablet computer taken from a car left unattended for a few minutes.
26/10 – Birchills – overnight – sat nav taken.
27 October – Leamore – evening – two tablet computers and a mobile phone taken.  They’d been left under a coat on the back seat.
27 October – Willenhall – overnight – digital camera and passport stolen.

The message of the WMP ‘fob’ campaign is ‘click it, check it’.  In other words don’t assume that your car is properly locked before you walk away, physically check by trying your door handles.  I’m old enough to remember the days before central locking when we had to do that and didn’t consider it a hardship!  Central locking is great but can go wrong for several reasons, perhaps because a door isn’t closed properly, or one of the locks is faulty, so get in the habit of not relying on it.  In relation to the large number of vehicles parked around Walsall every day, the number of vehicle crimes committed is very small – just a handful in fact – but thieves will roam the streets, especially at night, trying vehicle door handles, as captured on CCTV.  If they try 100 and get just one victim, that’s one too many.

Continuing with the ‘theft from’ theme, the theft of number plates is disturbingly common.  Number plates are often used in crime and can be expensive to replace, however there is an easy step you can take: secure your ‘plates with clutch or one-way screws.  These have part of the head missing so they can be screwed in but not out.  In fact we’ve made things really easy for you by teaming up with Halfords Autocentres who will supply and fit the screws for free!  To secure your plates simply download and print out the voucher (below) and make an appointment at Halfords’ Walsall Branch.  If you can’t print out the voucher give me a call and I’ll pop one in the post to you.

free number plate screws

Moving on to the theft of vehicles, whilst it’s true that vehicles have become more difficult to steal with the introduction of more sophisticated electronic security, a disturbing trend recently has been how crooks are managing to bypass such security, as highlighted recently by the BBC.  I won’t go in to detail here as you can read the BBC article, suffice to say that in recent months a number of high-value vehicles have been stolen in Walsall by ‘unknown means’, where the owner is still in possession of all sets of keys and there are no signs of forced entry, e.g. broken glass.  Apparently, whilst motor manufacturers are working on remedies, this trend is spreading to lower-value cars and commercial vehicles.

There is something you can do to stop your pride and joy being taken however.  An obvious solution is to garage the vehicle, especially overnight, if it’s possible.  If this isn’t possible then think about physical security, either fitted to the vehicle (e.g. wheel clamp, steering wheel lock), or in the area where it’s parked, e.g. strong gates or collapsible bollards.  Also think about aftermarket electronic security devices and/or having a tracker fitted.  The West Midlands Police Safer Motors website gives all sorts of vehicle crime prevention advice and you can visit the Secured By Design website for details of police-approved security products.  You can also help by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to the police by dialling 101 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which you can do anonymously.  If you’re not already in one, why not think about starting or joining a neighbourhood watch scheme?  It’s easier than you’d think, and an effective way of fighting many types of crime.  Finally on this subject, it is still true that the most common way to steal a car is by obtaining the keys, and thieves will break into homes to obtain them.  Thankfully this type of crime is very rare, but you should still take precautions by placing keys out of sight or away from doors or windows where they could easily be reached.  Don’t take them to bed with you, however, and if threatened (again a rare occurrence), hand them over – cars can be replaced.  Try to remember as much as you can about the thieves, what they wore, how they spoke, etc. to help the police investigation.

Finally, I’d like to close this fairly long (for me!) blog by re-stating that whilst vehicle crime is low, especially when compared to the number of vehicles on the road, it does happen and you should take sensible steps to protect your vehicle and other property.  If you’re in doubt follow some of the links I’ve included above or contact the police on 101 and ask to speak to your local Crime Reduction Officer.

News Update 11 July

I made the mistake of having a few days off and came back to a mountain of work so my Facebook posts have been a little thin this week!  Here is a selection of what I have been able to upload.

West Midlands Police press release, posted Friday 11 July.

Drivers are being urged to bolster car security as unusual items including lights and even a door panel have been targeted by thieves.In one crime a car left with the engine running was stolen from a garage forecourt in Bloxwich.

The red Honda Civic was taken by an opportunist thief at lunchtime on Friday 6 June and later recovered nearby.

Patrols have been boosted across the borough while Neighbourhood Watch groups are being asked to remain alert.

While car crime as a whole is down from a high of 4,714 in 2002/2003 to a low of 1,955 in 2013/2014 the past few weeks have seen a rise in car crimes with 32 investigated by officers last week.

Of those 32, four owners admitted leaving their cars unlocked while eight had external parts such as hubcaps, mirrors, a light cluster and a door panel stolen.

This recent rise is very unusual − as are the parts being targeted by thieves.

Officers have a plan in place to catch the crooks which includes plain clothes patrols and the use of capture cars − vehicles fitted with tiny CCTV cameras, microphones and silent alarms which alert officers when they are tampered with.

In addition to the technology, we’re also asking people to play their part by removing valuables, locking cars and keeping their eyes and ears peeled.

Tips for drivers:

• Don’t leave keys in the ignition when the car is left unattended
• Lock and check your car when you leave it
• Don’t leave anything on display
• Take your sat nav with you when you leave the car and remove any marks left by sat nav suction pads
• If you have a garage use it
• Never leave valuables in the glove box

It’s important to remember that insurance companies won’t pay out if drivers have forfeited their policy by not removing valuables and securing their vehicle.

cash on the dash poster

For free car security tips visit:
Death Of Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones
Following the untimely and sad death of West Midlands Police and CrimeBob Jones CBE Commissioner Bob Jones on 1 July, I have posted several times.
I July.
Sad news, the West Midlands has lost a hard-working, dedicated servant and a nice man.

Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones CBE dies

Book of Condolences for Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones

Follow the link below to leave a message of condolence for PCC Bob Jones who sadly passed away today.

11 July.
Please follow the link below for information of an event to celebrate the life of West Midlands PCC Bob Jones, who sadly passed away at the beginning of this month. Members of the public are welcome to attend but in order to give an idea of numbers, are requested to register their interest.
And finally… the shop, which is now open in Walsall’s Saddlers Shopping Centre.  Hopefully i’ll have some photos next week!
Posted 1 July.

I’m turning into “Mr Shiftit” this morning as I move furniture and equipment into the ‘pop-up’ shop we’re opening in Walsall’s Saddlers’ Centre. The shop, which is in Park Mall next to Vodafone, will be open in the next few days.

Here’s the press release:

Shoppers can pick up safety tips thanks to cop shop.

Visitors to Walsall’s Saddlers Shopping Centre will soon be able to pick some crime prevention while indulging in some retail therapy.

Amongst the shops offering food, fashion and gadgets, a new West Midlands Police shop has opened its doors to offer safety advice and tips to shoppers.

The shop, on the second floor near to the Park Street entrance, will be open weekdays from 10pm – 4am, and will allow visitors to speak to officers and staff about any issues affecting them during their visit.

Commenting on the new shop Sergeant Gary Iliff said: “Most shoppers probably won’t have crime prevention at the forefront of their mind. However many of them will have driven to the shops, will be purchasing goods and then returning home – so we’ll be on hand to offer advice on vehicle, home and personal safety.

“We’re also looking to team up with other locals groups and charities which will also allow them to use the shop to meet members of our local communities.

“Officers will continue to patrol the town centre and the front office at Walsall Police station is always open as well so there are a whole host of opportunities for people to speak to officers should they require advice or assistance.

For further crime prevention advice log onto

Initially the shop will be open for a seven week trial period.

News Update 27 June

It’s been another busy and varied week, with posts ranging from a West Midlands Police survey that may affect the future of front offices to a new Crimestoppers campaign and the visit of a supersonic car to Walsall.

Posted 27 June.

Earlier this year West Midlands Police launched a project exploring how the public want to engage with the force in the future. The 12 month project also includes a review of the 41 front offices dotted across the force.

Police Front DeskStarting in February the initial stages of the review involved the force commissioning research to understand how people want to access police services.

We are also keen to hear as many views as possible on this important piece of work and so we have launched a wider public consultation called Policing Today – shaping the service of tomorrow with you.

Time is running out to take this survey which closes on 2 July. To have your say take the survey now! It will only take five or ten minutes of your time.

To take the survey follow this link:

Or to find out more follow this link to the West Midlands Police website: (A link to the survey can also be found at the bottom of this page).

Don’t leave it too late to have your say. All views will be taken into account.

Posted 26 June.

Is a cannabis farm funding organised crime in your community?

Do you know how to spot a cannabis farm?

Crimestoppers have today launched a new campaign to tackle commercialcannabis farm cannabis cultivation. Cannabis farming, seen by organised criminals as a high profit, low risk venture, is increasingly taking place in residential properties. Here in Walsall this illegal activity has been uncovered in residential and some business properties in all parts of the borough: it’s not a problem confined to any particular area. In many cases cannabis cultivation has been disrupted by the police following tip-offs from neighbourhood watch members and other members of the public. To find out how to recognise and report commercial cannabis cultivation in your community, visit the Crimestoppers website by following the link below.

Posted 26 June.

PCSO Tim Littlehales security marking a bicycle.The warm weather certainly brought out the bicycles for our cycle marking and safety event in Walsall Arboretum at the weekend! PCSO Tim Littlehales and Russel Cycles’ mechanic Mark were kept busy checking and marking rider’s machines on Saturday, as they took part in Adsa’s Community Open Day.
To find out how to keep your bike secure, visit my blog at
Posted 25 June.
I saw this card, which is actually 3D and looks better than the photo, as it was posted to me. What design would you come up with?
Want to win a £50 voucher? Then can your kids beat this lovely
40th birthday card by 7 year old Katie from Walsall?Happy 40th birthday from Katie aged 7.Children aged 17 and under can enter our 40th birthday card competition and there are £50 Debenhams and i-tunes vouchers up for grabs.

Cards can be in any medium and can be sent

via twitter – @WMPolice using the hashtag #weare40
via email –
via post – 40th Birthday Cards, Corporate Communications, West Midlands Police, Police HQ, Lloyd House, Colmore Circus, Birmingham, B4 6NQ

Entries should specify the child’s name, age, area they live in and contact details for a parent or guardian so the force can contact competition winners. Deadline for entries is 20 July 2014.

Good Luck!

Posted 25 June.
Shared on behalf of Walsall College, news of a really exciting event that is taking place next week:The Bloodhound SCC is the car built to attempt the World Land Speed record next year.
Bloodhound SSC is coming to Walsall!
The record hasn’t been attempted for 25 years and this project has been 7 years in the making so it’s well worth bringing your family and friends along to have a look.Thursday 3rd July 4pm-7pmThe Black Country UTC will be holding their Open Day at Walsall College. If you know anyone currently in year 9 or 11 who has an interest in science and engineering and would like to see the Bloodhound, meet the new Principal of the BCUTC and find out more out the exciting new plans for the BCUTC ask them to come along on Thursday.

Saturday 5th July 10am-2pm

Family Day – everyone is welcome to come along and see the Bloodhound and meet the team.

This is a great opportunity to see the Bloodhound before it attempts the world record!

News Update 13 June.

It’s Friday the 13th but fingers crossed, knock on wood I’m OK so far!  No update last week as I ran out of time so loads to fit in this week!

Posted Friday 13 June.

Hopefully the warm spell is here to stay for a while but folks don’t forget to close up your house before you go out! Throwing the windows open to let the heat out is great but if you’re not looking can let Billy Burglar in.  Have a great weekend but think ‘window’!
Can I also remind peeps not to leave their car keys on show? A car was taken from outside a house in Pheasey overnight after the thieves smashed a window and took the keys off the window ledge. They didn’t even have to enter the house.Small precautions equal greater safety. Put your car keys out of sight and out of reach to keep your ride. Incidents like this are rare but don’t assume it can’t happen to you!
Posted Thursday 12 June.
Can You Help?
Autism Action Walsall are in need of items to use as prizes on their stall at Asda’s community open day which is taking place in Walsall Arboretum on Saturday 21 June. At present there have only been two offers of prizes, so if anybody has any suitable items they wish to donate, please contact Community Support Worker Hayley Page on 01922 655800 or
Missing Person Appeal.
At the time of writing this lady is still missing. Please be on the look out for Amanda and share with friends and relatives in Lichfield and South Staffs. Let’s get her safely returned to her family!
Missing person - Amanda Hawkins
Don’t Get Your #selfie Into Trouble This Summer!
Following on from my mini-#selfie campaign last week here are some far better ones from West Midlands Police! Learn how to enjoy summer safely and sensibly with this great new campaign. Take a look, laugh and learn!
Drinkers are being urged to keep them #selfie safe this summer in a photo portrait campaign showing how excess alcohol can turn booze binges at bars to a stretch behind bars!The campaign − Don’t get your #selfie into trouble this summer plots theDon't Get Your #selfie Into Trouble This Summer nights out of three partygoers through a series of ‘selfie’ snaps and illustrates how blurred, drunken decisions can have life-changing consequences.

It focuses on drinking responsibly this summer, looking after friends and taking care when heading home − and stresses that we will take a tough stance on violence.

And with the World Cup seeing many late-evening kick-offs on British TV −Well Jealous? including England’s opening match against Italy on Saturday – the warning about setting a sensible drinking pace and staying in control is even more pertinent.

Find out all about our campaign: See More

Posted Monday 9 June.

Not Into Neighbourhood Watch?  Here’s an Alternative.

Do you ever think that your street could do with more community spirit? If so, why not check out Street Associations?

Last week I had the privilege of meeting with Martin and Gina Graham who, having set up successful Street Associations in Birmingham and elsewhere, are now seeking to set some up in Walsall. I’m fully supporting their work, as does Walsall Council.

So, what is a Street Association? Well, it’s literally an association for a street! Boring? Not at all. Their strap line – ‘friendship : fun : belonging : a helping hand’ – says it all. This is a really relaxed and positive way of bringing neighbours together, forming real community, generating friendships and fun activity for all ages – and making sure that people in the street who are isolated or could do with help with a bit of shopping or a lift to hospital are drawn into a caring network of people who really support each other.

You can get more information from, where there’s a video that shows two Street Associations in action, or you can phone Martin or Gina on 0121 427 3300 and they’ll be really pleased to talk it over with you and help you get things going if you think it’s a good idea.

A nicer atmosphere for kids to grow up in; the generations mixing together; different ethnic groups coming together; lots of fun activities such as a barbecue, quiz night, country walk, trip to the movies; a smile on the face of people who thought they were forgotten. What’s not to like?


News Update 30 May.

Here are some of the things I’ve added to my Facebook page during the last few days.

Posted Friday 30 May.

Chuckery Festival ‘Bands in the Bandstand’ event this Sunday! Will I see you there?
Post Bank Holiday blues, back to work phobia? Remember that there is next Sunday 1st June to look forward to when the FREE Chuckery Festival – ‘Bands in the Bandstand’ event in Walsall Arboretum with a great music line up will blow those blues away …
Chuckery Festival Programme
Posted Friday 30 May.
Next week I’m planning on taking part in the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network’s ‘selfie’ campaign. Can you help?Neighbourhood Watch SelfieNHW members, coordinators, supporters, partners and general members of the public are encouraged to take part in the campaign. I will be supporting the campaign myself by posting a ‘selfie’ every day next week on this page and on my Twitter (@kevpittwmp) feed, including a neighbourhood watch sign or sticker, each in a different part of the borough. You can help me by letting me know if you have a NHW sign or sticker in a place that would be suitable for inclusion in a ”selfie”. Perhaps you or a neighbour would be willing to have your photo taken with me? Contact me by phone on 01922 439103, email at, or just send me a FB message!As you are probably aware, the rise of social media and smartphones has seen the concept of ‘selfies’ (i.e. self portraits) become huge and we think there is huge potential for Neighbourhood & Home Watch to get involved. This is an opportunity for you to show how active NHW is in your area especially if there are lots of street signs up!

We would love to see your selfies:

•Next to a Neighbourhood/Home Watch sticker or sign
•Next to fellow NHW members
•Next to other kind of ‘Watch’ signs e.g. Pub Watch, Farm Watch etc.
•With key people such as police officers, PCC’s etc.

If you use Twitter or Facebook, use the hashtag #NHWSelfie, or you can send your pictures to us via We will be promoting this campaign via our partners and our own social media channels:



At the same time you can donate to NHWN by texting NHWN14 £X (The X being the donation amount) to 70070.

You can help me with my own publicity drive by letting me know if you have a NHW sign or sticker in a place that would be suitable for inclusion in a ”selfie”. Perhaps you or a neighbour would be willing to have your photo taken with me? Please let me know by phoning on 01922 439103 or email me at

Let”s support this campaign and give neighbourhood watch a boost in Walsall! You can find out more by visiting

Posted Wednesday 28 May.
If you’ve passed by Walsall Police Station during the last few hours you may have noticed the new feature that’s appeared outside. Need I say more?
Drink-drive crash car
Posted Wednesday 28 May.

HALF TERM COMPETITION – Keeping the kids entertained in wet weather is tricky, so why not encourage them to enter our 40th birthday card competition?Children aged 17 and under can enter the competition and there are £50 Debenhams and i-tunes vouchers up for grabs.Thanks go to Amelia Mae aged 8 from Walsall for this entry.birthday card

Cards can be in any medium and can be sent
via twitter – @WMPolice using the hashtag #weare40
via email –
via post – 40th Birthday Cards, Corporate Communications, West Midlands Police, Police HQ, Lloyd House, Colmore Circus, Birmingham, B4 6NQ

Entries should specify the child’s name, age, area they live in and contact details for a parent or guardian so the force can contact competition winners. Deadline for entries is 20 July 2014.

Good Luck!

Find out more about the history of West Midlands Police by visiting our ‘We Are 40′ blog.
Posted Wednesday 28 May.
Think you’re too savvy to be taken in by a scam? Take this ‘Spot the Scam’ quiz to find out just how clued up you are! Scams are big business. Recently, 22,000 people replied to one particularly successful scam mail shot and sent £500,000 in just one day. Share your scam awareness and help us curb the crooks!
With it being Scams Awareness Month, just how Scam Aware are you? Take the Spot the Scam quiz to find out.

News Update 23 May.

For those of you who may be wondering I had a great week off and have returned to work refreshed and raring to go!  Here are some of the items I’ve posted to Facebook this week.

Posted Friday 23 May.
Some great holiday advice from North Aldridge Neighbourhood Watch:

Going away for Bank Holiday and half term?Don’t forget to ensure your property is left secure!
Windows,doors locked and alarm set.
Tell a trusted neighbour you are away.
No ladders and tools left about that could aid “Tealeaf”.Drive safely and have a great time!

Posted Friday 23 May.

Come and Join Us On World Environment Day 2014.
Myself and colleagues from Walsall Police will be helping staff from Walsall Council celebrate World Environment Day day with an event in Walsall Town Centre on Thursday 5 June between 10am and 2pm. We will be available to give crime prevention advice, listen to any concerns you may have or answer any general questions about policing in Walsall.The aim of the day, which is marked across the world, is to raise awareness of the importance of respecting and doing your bit for the environment.

As well as challenging people to guess the weight of the litter collected in the town centre, the Reach Up tower will be present on the day and everyone from children to adults are encouraged to climb the 25ft tower. Council officers will also be on hand to answer questions about recycling and other environmental related issues. Staff will dress up in litter costumes and engage the public on the problems of litter and the consequences of dropping litter. In addition, a prize draw will be held.

So if you’re out and about in Walsall on the 5th look out for us in the area of the Bridge and pop by to say hello!

Posted Thursday 22 May.
support groups flyer
Posted Wednesday 21 May
Asda St Matthew’s Community Open Day is coming up. If you run a charity or any sort of community group and would like to take advantage of a free stall at the event please drop my old mate Martin a line or two on the email shown below.
Asda Community Open Day
Posted Tuesday 20 May.
Palfrey Family Funday, 31 May. I’ve just heard that officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit will be at the event, in police uniform. If you’d like help or advice on any subject don’t be shy, just ask them. They are looking forward to being kept busy!
Palfrey Family Funday Poster
 Have a great bank holiday weekend and stay safe!

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