Community is urged to remain vigilant after carjacking incidents

AN upsurge of carjacking incidents has led a neighbourhood watch group to issue safety advice and tips for motorists.

The Greenfield based volunteers are also seeking more members to join their street co-ordinators scheme which now covers more than 50 per cent of the village.

And despite several recent high-profile cases where victims are believed to have been followed from Tesco car park on Chew Valley Road, overall crime incidents have dropped.

Distinctive warning posters produced by Greenfield’s Neighbourhood Crimewatch group (GNC) will soon be displayed.

Group founder Lee Hudson told a recent meeting: “We have had this spate of carjackings but some people still don’t about them or that they have occurred.

“Let’s not be a victim of crime. We need to make sure everyone in our community is in the know.

“They may call us curtain twitchers but I don’t care. If someone comes onto our street or there is any suspicious activity make sure it gets around quickly.

“If we help each other then no more of us are going to be victims of crime.

“I am not saying, ‘Don’t go to Tesco because you are going to get car jacked.’ It could be any public space.

“There have been three incidents at Oldham Hospital of staff leaving at night, getting into the car and the same thing has happened.

“It’s all about warning people to be circumspect of their surroundings.”

PC Lee Cullen, Sgt Neil Barker, Shirley Holt from Oldham Homewatch and Lee Hudson

Following the Uppermill attack on Monday, April 1, GNC issued a notice stating: “The Police are advising everyone in the community to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially when visiting public places such as supermarkets and local shops.

“These are typical locations offemders will use to identify vulnerable targets.”

Tips to avoid becoming a victim include:
• Be aware of your surroundings
• Park in well-lighted areas
• Be alert to any suspicious persons sitting in cars as you walk to vehicles
• If someone is trying to get into your car, keep your horn pressed hard to alert people nearby. This is a distress signal
• Change driving patterns regularly
• If ever confronted by armed carjacker don’t resist or argue
• If you suspect someone is following you-slow down, call the police, keep driving, stay on main roads and take notes of any suspects and vehicles.

Lee has also warned residents of potential distraction tactics including placing notes under wipers on car windscreens and throwing eggs at vehicles.

“We do not wish to alarm the community, we only wish to raise awareness and promote vigilance to try and deter criminal activity from our neighbourhood.

“So, if an egg hits your front screen the immediate reaction is to put your front wipers on,” he explained.

“You do that though and you will have to stop and get out because it just turns into a milky substance and you won’t be able to see.

“Leaving notes under your back windscreen wipers is another trick.

“You get out, the engine is still running, you walk around to the rear of the car and the next thing you know the vehicle is gone.

“Don’t leave handbags on the passenger seat when getting in your car and door is unlocked. They will have it away.”

That is what happened to one shopper in Uppermill after visiting Buckley’s bakers. Unlocking the doors before she reached the car resulted in an opportunist thief stealing her bag and making off in a car driven by an accomplice.

Saddleworth police officer Lee Cullen praised GNC’s work. “I don’t want you to think we are crime central because we are not,” he said.

“Crime across the board is down because of the across the board approach of your guys.

“We know the community, as a whole, is a lot more vigilant than it was12-18 months ago in Greenfield.

“Criminals don’t want to be seen, they don’t want their cars taken off them. So, we need to keep that vigilance going.

“If you see something on your street and it is out of the ordinary, make a note of it. All these things add upto to making it very uncomfortable for the criminals.

“We are doing okay but the risk is still there so keep the momentum going.”

PC Cullen detailed a new page on the Greater Manchester Police website being trialled to help increase incident reaction time. For more details go online to:

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