Security fences are the lure not the cure

Daily Telegraph correspondent has his fencing stolen by metal thieves

As the sorry tale of Mike Rutherford, The Daily Telegraph’s motoring correspondent, so graphically illustrates, security fencing has mutated away from being a strong deterrent into a lure for metal thieves. Whilst distracted by a family crisis, villains turned up at the Rutherford home in the Kent countryside and removed the securing gate and fencing designed to protect the house.

Although the culprit was apprehended and convicted, sadly this tale doesn’t have a happy ending because Rutherford is still out of pocket to the tune of several thousands of pounds. He was lucky because an understanding neighbour was aware of the family situation and had promised to keep an eye on the house. He kept notes but if Rutherford had been part of a community monitored TV scheme, the crime might have been prevented.

Had the police been contacted as the crime was being committed, the thief could have been caught red handed. More importantly, the stolen metal might have been retrieved before it was hauled off to its final destination –an ‘accommodating’ scrap metal or recycling yard.

The neighbour spotted the theft as it was being committed and approached the culprit. However, this person insisted that he’d been ‘authorised’ to remove the metal materials from Rutherford’s land. Luckily, the neighbour kept detailed notes of the incident. This included an accurate description of the driver plus the make of vehicle, its identifying marks and most important of all – the registration plate.

The downside was that the neighbour failed to contact Rutherford and so decided not to contact the police because he couldn’t be sure whether the man was a thief or genuine contractor working for Rutherford.

When the Kent Police were finally called in by Rutherford, they were impressed by Rutherford’s security camera images but even more impressed by his neighbour’s detailed notes. This eventually led to the arrest of a middle-aged local who was charged with stealing the fencing. At Maidstone Crown Court, he received a heavy fine and an 18-month suspended sentence. He was ordered to pay a four-figure sum for replacement fencing and gates, but Rutherford has yet to see a penny of it.

“High security fences and other products designed to ‘protect’ aren’t secure and offer zero protection when they’re so damned easy to steal.” What is such a shame is that Rutherford and his neighbour weren’t part of a shared CCTV scheme. That way somebody might have called the police before the metals were removed. Plus, if Mr Rutherford had been able to view his CCTV images on his smartphone, he might have been able to alert the police immediately. Of course, a system like Jabbakam provides a remote surveillance facility for smartphones and actively promotes community monitored TV schemes to its customers.