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Officer wants homes to be as safe as houses at Christmas
Father Christmas better watch out when he heads to Great Barr this Christmas as his trip down the chimney could trigger a strobe light, an ear-piercing alarm or even an almighty smoke machine.

PC Mark Ledo, crime reduction officer and crime prevention design advisor at Walsall police, is determined to make sure no-one can enter your house without you knowing.

With an array of gadgets at his disposal, and a healthy dose of common sense, PC Ledo is sure that everyone can do that little bit extra to help make their home more secure this Christmas.

"The average burglar may not be the brightest spark in the box when it comes to some things but when it comes to breaking into houses they are like a rocket designer," he said.

"They know tricks of how to get into your home that are simply mind boggling. In fact, if they used that kind of intelligence elsewhere they could be designing cars for Ferrari if they wanted.

"That is why people have got to be smarter. They have got to stop making it easy for burglars to break in.

"There are a lot of gadgets and gizmos that can help with that, but a large dose of common sense could help as well.

"In the summer, six burglaries could have been stopped if people had locked doors when going to work."

PC Ledo was talking at the West Midlands Police's security show home, in Chester Road, near Brownhills police station.

The house is packed with the latest home security devices and cunning crime prevention techniques to keep burglars at bay.

It is the only one of its kind in the region and features everything from advanced alarm systems and window locks to prickly plants and dummy dictionaries which are actually money boxes.

There's an intruder detection system that activates a smoke bomb to greet any unwelcome guests.

"All the gadgets play a part in helping people make their home more secure to an outside threat," PC Ledo said.

"They all help provide a barrier of some kind that help distract the burglar, or let others around know that there is something untoward going on."

Upon walking around the house, the number of options to homeowners becomes abundantly clear.

Motion censored alarms are side-by-side with alarms that are triggered by force.

Sample doors are protected by fireproof bags to stop fireworks and such being placed through letter boxes, and a massive array of locks are on display to show the options you have when it comes to keeping your home safe.

"There are so many options people have now to keep themselves safe. And I am not talking about spending thousands of home security systems either," PC Ledo said.

"For example, timers cost about £6 or £7 and are great especially at this time of year of creating an impression of someone being in.

"Most burglars will not try to get into an occupied home, they will target ones that look empty.

"Also alarms that are triggered when someone is forceful on the surface they are on, say a patio door for example, are great. They can be bought for a couple of quid and create enough noise to distract a burglar.

"Of course, some will still break in and grab something quickly and run.

"But if that was not there they could have a snoop around and take whatever they wished.

"Most of these alarms can be brought from shops in town centres and are cheap. That is the main thing we are trying to tell people.

"We want people to do what they can to help stop burglaries."

And in one last message to those trying to keep their homes safe this winter, PC Ledo said: "Above everything else just use common sense.

"Take a step back and look at what you would do to get in if you locked yourself out.

"If you find any ways, then times that by 10 and that is what a burglar sees."

Mark is keen to hear from community groups who would like to tour the facility. He can accommodate between 15 and 30 people per visit which includes a tour of the house and a presentation.

Groups can contact Mark directly on 0345 1135000, extension 7881 6596, or email m.ledo@west-midlands.

For groups in Kingstanding and Perry Barr, contact your local neighbourhood police team

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Posted On:  01 December, 2010
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Sunday: light snow showers
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