Donít put wire on your windows Ė it might hurt burglars! Villagers outraged after police order them not to protect garden sheds

Daily Mail | February 13, 2011

Residents in Surrey and Kent villages have been ordered by police to remove wire mesh from their windows as burglars could be injured.
Home owners in the villages of Tandridge and Tatsfield in Surrey and in Westerham, Brasted and Sundridge in Kent have said they are furious that they are being branded 'criminals' for protecting their property.

Locals had reinforced their windows with wire mesh after a series of shed thefts but were told by community police officers that the wire was 'dangerous' and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they 'hurt themselves'.

Surrey Police have defended the move but outraged residents have attacked the force for seemingly trying to protect criminals.

Thomas Cooper, of Tatsfield, Surrey, said he put the mesh around three of his garden sheds after two break-ins over the past four years.

He said he decided to take action after reports of a rise in shed burglaries in the area near the Kent and Surrey border.

'I have three sheds and had two break-ins in the past four years,' Mr Cooper explained.

'I reinforced my shed windows with wire mesh, but was told by the police I had to be very careful because thieves can actually sue you if they get hurt.

'"I mean, what are you meant to do? Let them take your stuff? It is ridiculous that the law protects them even though they are breaking it.'

Last month mother-of-three Samantha Cullum had her entire shed pinched in the village of Brasted, near Sevenoaks in Kent, when thieves simply lifted it onto a truck in the dead of night.

'We had some tools stolen every now and again, but this time they took the entire shed - I couldn't believe it.'

Tatsfield homeowner Dave Bishop labelled the police advice 'unbelievable' and said people should be allowed to protect their property.

Crime reduction officer for Tandridge PC John Lee commented: 'We are constantly advising homeowners to protect their property and the contents of their shed or garage, however, a commonsense approach needs to be taken.

'To properly secure your sheds, Surrey Police strongly advises people to invest in items such as good-quality locks and bolts, and not to resort to homemade devices, as this could cause injury.'

A police source  added: 'Homemade devices can cause injury and there have been cases where criminals have sued for injuries they have suffered while committing a criminal act.

'We are advising people to do whatever they can to protect their property, but wire mesh is not one of the suggestions we would make.'