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July and August 2021 NHW Updates

Posted on 31st August, 2021



Vehicle Crime


Criminal Damage to a Motor Vehicle.


A motorcycle has been damaged during the early hours of the 28th whilst parked in Sandford Road, Winscombe. The owner of the 125CC bike returned to find damage to both the engine and the frame work in a failed attempt at stealing it. It is understood the offender/s may have been trying to access the vehicle immobiliser and steering lock.


Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221199179 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Thank you for your support.


Vehicle Crime.


Another motorcycle has been damaged between the 28th and the 30th whilst parked in Dark Lane, WSM. The owner parked the motorcycle due to a flat battery and upon return found the bike had been moved and heavily damaged with parts removed, wires accessed from several points and “Ripped Apart” as described by the owner.


Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221200376 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Thank you for your support.



Scams Advice Officer, Trading Standards (Free Service)


Dear All,


My name is Linda Griffin and I am a Scams Advice Officer with North Somerset Trading Standards working in conjunction with Age UK Somerset. My job has many different facets but the one I enjoy most is giving talks to groups like yours about current scams, how some can be avoided and also dealing with the side effects of being scammed.


This is a free service and should it be something that you would be interested in please ring me on: 0744 398 3505 or email lin.griffin@ageuksomerset.org.uk Best wishes Lin Linda Griffin



Online sellers asked to be wary of money transfer scam


Anyone selling items online is being warned of a scam which sees buyers pretending to have transferred money but making off without paying for the goods.



Forcewide – 10,000 cannabis plants seized


Please see the attached document for news about cannabis seizures made by Avon and Somerset Police and hints on how to spot potential sites being used for its cultivation.



Vaccine Passport Scams


Please see the attached document for information from ActionFraud about fake emails claiming to be from the NHW. These say they can provide people with a “digital passport” to prove you’ve been vaccinated, but have links within them that can steal personal and financial information.



More than 1000 wearable tech wristbands handed out to safeguard people living with dementia


More than 1000 wearable tech wristbands have now been handed out as part of the Avon and Somerset Dementia Safeguarding Scheme, launched last year in collaboration with the Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity.


Using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the wristband stores essential information about the wearer, including their name and details of next of kin. This information can be used by emergency services, health professionals or community members to get the wearer back to safety should they be found whilst lost or confused.


There are still plenty of wristbands available to the public and care homes, free of charge thanks to charitable funding.


Sgt Stuart King, who leads the initiative in addition to his role as a response officer said “I have been overwhelmed with the positive attention and wider support this scheme has received from the public. To hear the positive feedback and reassurance that the scheme brings to families and the people living with Dementia makes it all worthwhile.


“I would like to thank Bristol Dementia Action Alliance Charity, Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity, Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Western Power Distribution for the funding to purchase the NFC wristbands.”


To apply for a wristband, visit the Dementia Safeguarding Scheme (also known as the Herbert Protocol).


Further information can be found here. Further support for families affected by dementia is available at the Avon and Somerset Dementia Forum on Facebook.



Staying Safe Online


Please find attached a useful leaflet on how best to stay safe online.



New partnership helps police protect victims targeted by fraudsters in gift card scams


Avon and Somerset Police have identified and supported a number of fraud victims thanks to a new partnership with supermarkets designed to help prevent scams.


Fraud Protect Officers launched the initiative back in April after seeing a noticeable rise in scam cases where victims were being asked to purchase gift cards instead of sending money in the more typical ways. We have since been contacted multiple times by stores who have recognised the signs of customers being coerced into buying gift cards by fraudsters.


In most cases the requests for gift cards have been a part of a bigger scam where victims have unwittingly handed over thousands of pounds to criminals over a period of time.


What are scams involving gift cards?


It normally starts by fraudsters trying to gain the trust of their victim, and this process can happen over a period of weeks or months. It can be via the internet with someone posing as a person they are not, often involving an element of romance, or over the phone with a fraudster who is lying, claiming to be working for a reputable organisation, such as the police or HMRC.


Having gained the victim’s trust, they will ask them to purchase gift cards for them and will typically invent a time-critical reason as to why they need the victim to help them.


Once the victim has bought the gift cards they are then asked to provide the individual number on the vouchers. The fraudsters may drain the value of the card, but typically sell the gift cards on. They will usually then ask the victim to go and buy more for them.


Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “In a large number of these cases, sadly, the victim is taken in by the scam because they are trying to help others, whether that be someone they believe to be a love interest, or a reputable agency.


“These fraudsters are unscrupulous and are only interested in taking people’s money.


—Amy Horrobin, fraud protect officer


“It is brilliant that people are increasingly wary that they shouldn’t hand over banking information or transfer money to people they don’t know, but it means these fraudsters are coming up with more elaborate ways to steal innocent victims’ cash. People don’t tend to associate gift cards so readily with scams.


“If you have been a victim, please report it.”


What are Avon and Somerset Police doing?


We approached several supermarkets in the spring and encouraged them to make their staff aware of these scams and provided them with three simple steps to follow:


•If a transaction seems suspicious, don’t be afraid to challenge the customer and what the purchases are for


•Look out for anyone who appears to be nervous or anxious about what they are doing


•Report it to the police if you think someone is in danger, or a crime is being committed


Fraudsters in years gone by have asked victims to buy iTunes or Amazon vouchers, but we have seen an increasing number of crimes involving the purchase of Steam cards. Steam is an online platform where people can download and play games.


Our proactive work has led to staff at Sainsbury’s stores across the force area – or at Argos stores based within the supermarkets – to recognise several customers as a potential fraud victim. They have referred those incidents to us, allowing us to investigate and support the victim by firstly helping them to realise that they are a victim of fraud, and then providing them with advice and the tools to keep themselves safe in the future.


The incidents reported to us include:


•Sainsbury’s in Taunton contacted us in May amid concerns for a shopper who had made several purchases of Steam cards totalling £140. When we made contact with the victim, it transpired they had been contacted by several people via a gaming app claiming to be single mothers unable to feed their children. In total, he parted with approximately £2,000.


•That same month, a customer who had bought a number of Steam gift cards over a period of weeks then tried to buy a £500 voucher. When approached by staff at Argos in Street, she said she had been asked to buy them for a man living in America who wanted to marry her. We made contact with the victim and established she was the victim of romance fraud. She had been in conversation online with someone with a fake profile and had sent a total of £4,000 to the fraudster.


•And in June a shopper in Bridgwater attempted to purchase two £500 Steam gift cards. They had been phoned by someone claiming to be a police officer, claiming a car had been found in Wales with paperwork linking the vehicle to them and that it also contained drugs and guns. The fraudster said that unless gift cards were bought then the woman could be arrested. We’re continuing to support the victim with advice to help them deal with any future phone scam attempts.


We have contacted other supermarkets too and hope to extend this initiative further in the future to prevent more people being scammed.


Fraud protect officer Jordan Coates said: “We’re really grateful for how seriously Sainsbury’s have taken this issue and supported our fraud prevention work. Their staff have allowed us to intervene and almost certainly prevented victims losing out on large sums of money.”


How to spot the signs of gift card scams


Key signs of a gift card scam are:


•Someone you don’t know, or haven’t met in person, asks you to buy gift cards for them


•Often they will claim it is an emergency


•They will often pull at heart-strings and say you are the only person they can turn to


Our advice to anyone who is asked to buy gift cards is to remember that they will never be a legitimate form of payment under any circumstances, so these requests will certainly be part of a scam. Payment in the form of gift cards is convenient for the fraudster, less likely to be intercepted, and difficult to trace back to them, compared with bank transfers.


Amy continued: “Victims often feel pressurised into buying the gift cards by the situation the fraudster places themselves in. This is a deliberate ploy to prey on the victim’s emotions and seek them to make a decision that rationally they would not make otherwise.


“We would urge anyone who finds themselves in this situation to take a step back and think ‘could this be a scam?’ and to ask someone else’s opinion if unsure. If contacted by an organisation saying they need you to buy gift cards, it’s safe to assume it’s a scam.”


Jordan added: “The police, bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you to obtain gift cards for them, in the same way they will never ask for your PIN number or you to withdraw money for them. If unsure, find a phone number for them – don’t use any number provided by the suspect – and call them to check.


“If you are asked to obtain gift cards by someone you have been speaking to online, you are likely a victim of romance fraud.”


Advice from victims


Some of the victims we have helped in recent weeks and months have offered the following advice to people.


One female victim said: “Tell someone else about what is being asked of you. I have a carer who could have helped me but the fraudster told me I could not tell anyone. I felt very isolated and frightened.”


A male victim advises checking how many profile pictures a new request has and look at their biography or description. He said if he’s never met them, they only have two or three photos and minimal personal details he will not engage with them online.


He added: “The language my scammer used was fractured and often did not make sense.”


He went on to praise the work of Avon and Somerset Police fraud protect team, saying: “Thank you Amy and Jordan for everything you have done and continue to do. You saved me a lot of money and I hope by speaking out it helps others.”


How to report scams


Under-reporting is a real issue with these sorts of crimes as victims wrongly believe they would be wasting our time, there’s nothing that can be done or they feel embarrassed by what has happened.


We urge anyone in this situation to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk



ASB Awareness Week 19th / 25th


To mark UK’s first ASB Awareness Week.


Avon and Somerset Constabulary has joined a national campaign that is bringing together people and organisations from across the country to take a stand against anti-social behaviour and make our communities safer.


Running from July 19 to 25, ASB Awareness Week – Making Communities Safer aims to encourage communities to take a stand against ASB and highlight the options available to those facing it.


Organised by community safety specialists Resolve, ASB Awareness Week is being backed by the Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Local Government Association (LGA), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC).


Within Avon and Somerset Constabulary we are conducting both an Internal and External Awareness drive during this week. We are show casing the excellent work our neighbourhood Policing team, Anti-Social Behaviour Teams and victim Care services carry out on a daily basis to ensure that officers across the force are aware of just what we can do to support victims.


‘Its just ASB’. Far too often this phrase can be used to describe the actions of people in the community that are having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of others, which can lead to victims of ASB being persistently targeted. We as a Police Force want to directly challenge that view and ensure that the victims of Anti Asocial Behaviour in the communities of Avon and Somerset know they have the support of our organisation and partners and have the confidence to report any incident of ASB to the Police.


Chief Inspector Rob Cheeseman (Force Lead Officer for Anti-Social Behaviour) said: “This is a very exciting and important week to be part of. To have the opportunity to raise the awareness of Anti-Social Behaviour to our communities is fantastic. It can never be underestimated the affects ASB can have on the victims, and I want to encourage all victims of Anti-Social Behaviour to have the confidence to report incidents to the Police and allow us to investigate, deliver problem solving and sign post victims to partnership support services.


Attached to this email is a Poster detailing ASB Awareness Week, and we would ask that all members of the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme show support to this week and put these posters in to your community to help raise awareness.


Rebecca Bryant OBE, chief executive of Resolve, said: “We need to change the way we think about ASB. It is not low-level crime. It devastates the lives of victims and communities and can be a precursor to more serious crime.


“As the nation begins to recover from the impact of the pandemic and our society and economy celebrates the start of return to normal life, it is important that the challenge of ASB continues to be given the priority it needs nationally and locally so that people feel safe in their homes and communities.


“We are delighted to have Avon and Somerset Constabulary involved in this hugely important and successful campaign.


“It is vital to develop partnership approaches across communities to deal with the growing challenges around ASB.


“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and community.”


For more information visit http://www.resolveuk.org.uk/asbawarenessweek


If you would you like more information on reporting ASB or the services that can be offered please contact your Local Policing Team.


Contact Details available through the Avon and Somerset Constabulary Website.


Attachments: asb-awareness-week-mp



Witness appeal after necklace robbery in Weston-super-Mare


We are keen to speak to a dog walker who may have witnessed a robbery in Weston-super-Mare on Tuesday 13 July.


At approximately 10.30am, a female in her 60s was walking along the footpath adjacent to Ewart Road when a male briskly passed her.


He then turned around and pulled a gold necklace from around her neck and made off with it in the direction of Baytree Road. He is described as white, with short dark hair and was wearing a black tracksuit and trainers.


The necklace had a safety chain and has not been recovered at this time.


A 29-year-old male has been arrested and released on bail.


Investigating officer Carol Howell said: “One arrest has been made and enquiries are continuing.


“We believe there was a dog walker in the area who may have witnessed the incident and tried to pursue the offender.


“We’d be grateful if they would get in touch, or any other witnesses, through our website or on 101 quoting reference number 5221157563.”


You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their Anonymous Online Form.


No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.



See previous NHW Updates

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