A local residents association that set up a scheme to fight burglary with friendly pleasantries plans to use the method again during the Olympics.
Glen Keywood of the BRaG Association and Nicola Duffey of central Canbury neighbourhood watch set up the Meet and Greet scheme last year after a sharp rise in burglaries in the area.
The aim of the Meet and Greet scheme was to get local people on the streets to be friendly to one another, and Keywood said: “Last summer there was a marked increase in burglaries in Canbury, with a large number of burglaries in the household and the sheds.
“There would be people walking round the streets looking for a house to burgle. A simple non-confrontational greeting could put them off.”
The scheme was inspired by a similar process used at a GAP store in London, where Duffey worked.
Employees were encouraged to engage with customers, with the intention of putting off any potential thieves. The scheme worked and theft in the store fell.
As Keywood said: ““People like to be anonymous when they’re up to no good.”
The pair launched Meet and Greet as a pilot scheme for ten streets in the Canbury area, between 1st December 2011 and 3rd January 2012 to mixed affect.
There were no burglaries on the ten streets during that period, although Keywood refused to suggest Meet and Greet was the reason for this and pointed out that there were burglaries in other parts of Canbury.
Keywood also added: “Regular people are very uncomfortable doing it.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do, especially in Christmas time when it’s dark. People just want to get home and put their heads down.”
But the Meet and Greet scheme is destined to start again during the summer Olympics, a period in which Keywood believes residents should be more alert to potential burglars.
“We want people to be particularly vigilant during the Olympics.
“There are plans to bring it back for the Olympics because most of the local police will be in London and being the summer it’s a significant risk period.
“The Olympics is the main event and if it is successful we will roll it out more often.”
Keywood and Duffey were recognised for their work for the Meet and Greet scheme in March when they received a Team London star from Boris Johnson and Keywood expressed his gratitude for the award.
He said: “I was very proud! It wasn’t expected and it was nice to be recognised.”