Crackdown aims to make life difficult for burglars

A campaign to prevent burglary and encourage people to protect their homes and property, is being launched again this autumn by Essex Police.

Codenamed Operation Meteor, the crackdown encourages people to mark their valuables to make them less attractive to thieves which in turn reduces burglary. It also introduces policing tactics to catch criminals not used across Essex on this scale before.

The operation has already seen huge success in Essex. In June this year the property marking campaign, encouraging residents to protect their belongings, resulted in a 26 per cent decrease in burglary across the county.

Police are continuing to raise awareness of property marking and how it can help residents keep their belongings safe.

Dozens of officers have been deployed across the county.

Property marking is a proven deterrent to thieves and it makes it harder for criminals to sell on stolen goods, which in turn deters them from burgling homes and businesses.

Data suggests the use of property marking products significantly increase the chance of convicting a suspect of burglary with products like SmartWater and SelectaDNA having a 100 per cent conviction rate.

Residents can protect their property by marking it with both hidden and visible marking. Hidden marking can be anything from UV pens to logging and photographing items you own.

Visible marking can be anything from engraving an item to using a permanent pen to label goods with a postcode.

Residents and business owners can also purchase intruder sprays. These sprays cover intruders with a forensically detectable liquid which shows up on suspects when they are arrested and brought into a police custody suite.

As part of the operation, second-hand shops are working in partnership with police to make property ‘too hot to handle’.

Every item taken to second-hand shops will be checked for each type of property marking. Every suspect taken into custody will be scanned for traces of forensic marking liquids which are available to the public.

Chief Superintendent Ewen Wilson, Essex Police’s lead for burglary, said: “Burglary and theft is an intrusive and personal crime that effects our communities.

“When a victim has their home burgled it has a real impact on their feeling of safety and can take many months or years for those targeted to feel truly safe again in their own home.

“Our previous operational activity was a success and resulted in a significant decrease in burglary.

“This is testament to the fact that property marking, which is such a simple thing to do, can make a difference to our communities, make residents feel safer and hopefully prevent many people from having to go through the heartbreak of having their home broken into and valuables stolen.

“Property marking deters burglars from stealing it in the first place by making valuables too hot to handle. We are encouraging residents to mark their property as well as visit our website to read and share our crime prevention advice.

“We want to educate the public about security measures they can take. But we also want criminals to know that we are making life harder for them as property marking makes it much easier for us to catch them and bring them to justice.

“There is a clear message to criminals: the chance of getting caught for burglary in Essex has just gone through the roof!”

A campaign video explains how property marking works and how police use it to tackle burglary, theft and the selling of stolen goods. It can be viewed here:

Find out more about property marking at


Mick Ferris

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