Here are a few stories and examples of the little things you can do to make life safer and happier!

It's in the bag, so ... hold it tight and out of sight!

It's not often I am in Ballarat city on a Sunday afternoon, but last month in the course of a photo-shoot for another organization I was surprised that there weren't many in the streets.Nevertheless I was aware that there were a few people around whom I felt better to keep just a little distance from.

Now I don't suggest that they were about to mug me and take my camera — most of them looked pretty nice — but it's so easy for someone to quickly reach out and have their way with personal property almost before you've noticed it.

Day by day, people lose handbags, mobile phones, wallets etc that they have been carrying while momentarily looking in a window, at a shop counter, or buying a bus ticket.

Neighbourhood Watch offers a few tips about, shall we say, 'handbag security' in public areas.

  • Carry your handbag ( or other 'personal property) close to the body and not facing passing traffic.
  • If someone is following you, avoid shortcuts and find somewhere where there is safety in numbers.
  • Consider carrying your property under your clothing, and preferably not in a vulnerable back pocket.
  • In eating areas put your bag on your lap or on the floor with the strap around your leg.
  • And definitely do not leave your bag in open view on a shopping trolley, or an adjacent seat in a bus, or on the floor in a toilet.

  • If property is stolen, ring police on 000 immediately providing as many details as possible. Notify your bank or credit card provider a.s.a.p. if financial cards have been stolen. Most banks now allow you to stop all credit card transactions online.

    Even the shout 'stop thief!'may have some effect. Remember, "hold it tight and out of sight".

    And, yes, the photos came out well! ......and I still have my camera!

    -from BLT26 April 2010 NHW Newsletter.

    Knock, knock - who's there?

    In the course of my pre-retirement work, I frequently had people knocking on my door seeking help or advice or hand-outs, and it was often a difficult decision as a clergyman whether I should invite them inside to discuss the matter.

    But after one or two unsettling moments, I finally decided that except in situations that required confidential attention, pastoral calls, marriage interviews etc, there were some things better done on my office doorstep, rather than inviting them in.

    It may have seemed unfriendly, and I didn't want to 'knock' them, but from my own and the experience of colleagues, I decided that it was a safer option. The only doorknockers I get now are those who want me to change my electricity bill or join a karate club.

    And in the interests of my own safety and the security of my possessions, I now speak only through a locked security door (a must) (unless I want to give to the Red Cross, buy a CFA calendar, or see my neighbour!).

    Sadly many well-meaning people have suffered real or potential loss or damage as the result of unsolicited visitors being allowed inside even with the best of intentions. And some callers can be very hard to resist ("such a nice person!') or discourage. Though let me say not everybody is a potential threat.

    Nor should we be unduly alarmed about this issue. Neighbourhood Watch recommends that residents be wary of allowing anyone they do not know over the doorstep. And a sign on the door, such as "DO NOT KNOCK", is legally binding on the caller, and breaches can be reported to police.

    There is always too the possibility that someone at the front door can be a 'blind' for someone getting up to mischief elsewhere on the property. We want to be able to feel safe in our own homes without feeling in any way paranoid about what could happen. We no doubt want to be friendly, but in the end caution is the watchword!

    NHW wants ours to be a safe community. Please help yourself and others to achieve this.

    -from BLT26 March 2010 NHW Newsletter

    Make it matter ... Mark It!

    A few years ago I had the misfortune to have the hub caps stolen from my vehicle while it was parked in the driveway. I loved those hub caps. When I first bought them I kept an eye out for others like them, but never saw another set like them. Mind you, my kids thought they were so "uncool" they kept stirring me about them.

    Even though they were a cheap set of hub caps, my expectations of ever seeing them again was fairly low - zero in fact. It was an inconvenience in both time and money as I had to go and purchase a new set, which cost around $30. (That design was no longer available, and thank goodness they were not the original manufacturers hub caps, which would have cost $200 to replace)

    I probably would not have bothered to report it to the police because of (what I thought was) the trivial nature of the offence. However, Neighbourhood Watch had recently started operating in my area, and we had received newsletters encouraging all residents to report even minor matters to the police, so I did.

    A couple of months later I had a phone call from the police asking me to come to the police station.

    Uh! Oh! What's going on....?

    When I arrived, I was led to a room where there were a number of articles laid out on a table. They were recovered from the home of a person aprehended for burglary. And there on the end of the table were my favourite hub caps! Yes they were mine, still with my initials scratched on the back of each cap!!

    I had a quick glance at the other items. There were no obvious signs of identification on them and I wondered how they were going to find their owners. If only they had some form of identication on them.

    Marking your valuables makes them less inviting to steal and increases the likelihood that the offender will be caught and prosecuted. Equally important, if your valuables are marked and they should happen to be stolen, there is a much greater chance the police can return these items to you when they are recovered.

    Many items can be marked with an electric engraver (many NHW areas have these for use free of charge). An ultra violet pen can be used for items (such as TV's), which are better marked in that method. For jewellery and the like, take photographs so they can be easily identified. Keep a list of serial numbers if that is easier.

    It is recommended you mark your property with your driver’s licence number preceded by the letter V for Victoria. Your licence number is unique to you so even if you change your address you can be contacted. If you don’t hold a driver’s licence, you could ask a close friend or relative for their number to use.

    And yes, I put my favourite hub caps back on my car and drove proudly around, despite my kids' objections.

    Car Safety

    Older vehicles still make up the majority of thefts, with more than three fifths of both segments manufactured prior to 2000. The top theft targets reflect this, with the humble Hyundai Excel X3 the most targeted small car and the Holden Commodore VT the most commonly stolen large car.


    Just over half of both the small and large cars stolen and not recovered had relatively low values; being valued at less than $4,500. Many thieves deliberately target older and lower value vehicles. While a portion of these thefts may be for spare parts, there is also the advantage of a ready market, decreased risk of attracting attention from investigators, and poor security.

  • Vehicles left on nature strips, in driveways, carports, or at public car parks were most likely to be broken into.
  • People still leave valuables in their cars
  • In a large number of incidents, people left their cars unlocked

  • The most common stolen items are GPS units, portable music players (IPODS), laptops, video cameras, mobile phones, sunglasses and loose change. An example of making yourself a victim: people who remove their GPS units from the cradle but leave the cradle fixed to their window. A thief then walks by, sees the cradle and thinks the GPS unit is in the glove box. Whether it is or not, you have a smashed window that costs $400 to replace, and the inconvenience of being robbed of whatever else is in there.

    Don’t give a thief the opportunity to steal. Prevention is the best cure. “LOCK IT ..... REMOVE IT, ......OR LOSE IT !”