Image of home owners cat taken by security camera
A woman who was victim to multiple burglaries, criminal damage and theft is amongst hundreds of home owners benefitting from increased security measures.
Laura-Jo Webster's house in Newark has been fitted with a state-of-the-art camera and security light. She is also gaining a new back door, house alarms and bike locks at no cost to herself.
The 43-year-old primary school teacher experienced a house burglary a couple of years ago just a few days after Christmas. A safe had been ripped out of the bedroom wall which contained her late nan's wedding rings, her grandad's war medals and other sentimental items which she never saw again.
She said: "It had happened in the middle of the day and I remember coming back from work and finding the house completely ransacked. I was absolutely heartbroken because we'd got a kitten for Christmas and I couldn't find him anywhere so I presumed he'd been let out by the intruders.
"Luckily, I eventually found him cowering underneath a table. To this day, he is still very nervous and timid and I often wonder whether it was as a result of what happened.
"The sentimental items wrongly taken from me were completely priceless and can never be replaced. For a long time I struggled with the fact that I'd never again see these precious belongings. It was such an intrusive thing to happen, I felt dirty and unsafe in my own home which is something you should never have to feel."
As well as also having her shed broken into, her car damaged at least twice and washing stolen from the washing line, the house, which is situated near to the Albert Street area, was also broken into three times when her nan used to live there. On one of the occasions, her elderly relative, who was in her 70s, suffered the frightening experience of an intruder standing over her as she lay in her bed.
Mrs Webster, who now lives at the address with her husband and two adult children said: "During all of the burglaries, experienced by both my nan and grandad and myself, the intruders took advantage of the way the house is quite private and out of view. It's also situated in a walk-through from town.
"The increased security will make a huge difference. Previously, I would have been really anxious about leaving the house, particularly when we went on holiday but now it's so reassuring to know that if anyone does step on to our property then a light is going to come on and a camera is going to record what they're doing.
"The camera is linked to our phones so we get a notification when it's triggered. We can then instantly view what is going on, speak to the person who's there and alert the police."
The work is part of Newark's multi partnership Safer Streets project involving Nottinghamshire Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire County Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council after they successfully bid for £550,000 of Home Office money to make areas of Newark safer.
Burglary victims in the Chatham Court and Northgate areas of Newark have been contacted and invited to take up the offer of free security which includes new fencing, high-security doors and windows, security lights and 4G solar-powered security cameras. A total number of 106 properties have been assessed so far and 21 of them have had the work fully completed.
Mrs Webster added: "We've been really overwhelmed by the whole process and by what we've been given. We received a mail shot through the door because we'd been victims before, we sent the text then a couple of days later we heard back from the burglary reduction officer Eleanor Smalley.
"She's been fantastic... constantly keeping us updated and she has been in touch to see how things are going.
"We really didn't have any expectations but we've gained so much more than we could have hoped for, and not just physically - it's completely changed the way we feel about where we live for the better."
Inspector Heather Sutton, district commander for Newark and Sherwood, said: "It's heart-warming to hear that the work we're doing is making such a big difference to our residents.
"Increased security is a proven crime prevention method, it deters any would-be criminals and can provide concrete evidence if anything was ever to happen.
"We are always aiming to improve the lives of local people and do whatever we can to help them feel safer, and that's what the project pulls into focus.
"PCSO Eleanor Smalley, who was appointed as a burglary reduction officer as part of the campaign, has been working really hard to see this project through and we'd encourage anyone who's been contacted to take advantage of the offer.
"The work will be completed swiftly and to the highest standards and we are ensuring all social distancing and Covid related restrictions are adhered to."
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "It can take many years to recover from the trauma of burglary and theft, as this case has shown. Our homes should be our sanctuary and we deserve to live free from fear and anxiety. These security improvements are not only making it more difficult for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities, they are also giving peace of mind to their owners which is just as important.
"We've already had positive feedback about the difference our improvements are making to Newark and there is still much more to come. Over the coming weeks, many more properties will receive high-grade security improvements to protect them from unwanted visitors in the future."
Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Anything we can do to make it harder for criminals to operate is positive and through the project, we are making it more difficult for offenders to access properties and easier for residents to defend them. Burglary has a devastating effect on people’s lives and I am so pleased to hear that the improvements are making such a difference.”
If you have been contacted about receiving free security measures and would like to take part, please contact Eleanor Smalley on 101.
Posted on Thursday 21st January 2021