Physio's CCTV images help police catch burglar after practice raid
The people of east Kent have a succinct term for visitors from the capital: ‘DFLs’ (short for ‘down from Londons’). Reflecting a mix of feelings – disparaging ones mainly, perhaps tinged with envy – DFLs are well-heeled Londoners who buy properties at inflated prices, squeezing out the locals. They flock to seaside towns such as Whitstable or find a property in a pretty village, and then splash more cash and do up their new home.
But when north-London based Reashad Quirk visited the cathedral city of Canterbury one night in February, he wasn’t looking for a more salubrious place in which to live. Quirk broke into the premises of Team Buckley, a practice run by physiotherapist and osteopath Andrew Buckley, and liked what he saw. His haul included an Apple Mac and iPad, three laptops, an HP computer and laptop, an ultrasound machine and a camera. For good measure, he raided charity boxes before stuffing them down a toilet.
Quirk’s image was captured on CCTV and Mr Buckley quickly posted it on Facebook in the hope of identifying the perpetrator and getting his equipment back. At the time, Mr Buckley said: ‘Given the huge support my team get from the local community I would be grateful for all my friends, colleagues and local businesses to share this freely.’
Sentenced to 20 months
After being arrested, Quirk admitted his raid on Team Buckley, along with shoplifting offences in various parts of Kent. In total, his haul was valued at £7,000 and he was jailed for 20 months at Canterbury Crown Court on 11 March.
Detective Constable Andrew Palmer from Kent Police said the CCTV footage played a crucial part in building a strong case. ‘Persistent thieves like Quirk cause misery for local businesses and I am pleased he is now off the streets and unable to trouble anyone for a significant amount of time.’
Mr Buckley told PhysioUpdate: ‘We handled this case very quickly as the chap was caught within six days, thanks in part to our security camera capturing his image and posting it on social media asking for help in identifying him.
‘The police response was excellent. Fortunately, at our practice many areas are heavily secured, and this minimised many possible patient risks.'
No therapist should leave any piece of electronic equipment in a car while shopping, for example – even if it is only for a few minutes. Every laptop, computer, tablet and similar device should be traceable so that its location can be tracked, and the item can be shut down/have relevant data deleted remotely
Changes at Team Buckley
Mr Buckley says: ‘After the burglary we advised all staff to use their own laptops when accessing our software at the clinic – many had been doing this already. We also asked them to take their laptops home at the end of a shift.
‘Staff can only access the practice software during a shift and are then timed out. This means that if anyone leaves their laptop or computer unattended while they are away from the clinic, or it is stolen, confidential data cannot be accessed.’
Security is 'everyone’s responsibility’
‘No therapist should leave any piece of electronic equipment in a car while shopping, for example – even if it is only for a few minutes,’ Mr Buckley advises.
‘Every laptop, computer, tablet and similar device should be traceable, using an app such as Find My iPhone, so that its location can be tracked, and the item can be shut down/have relevant data deleted remotely.
‘Our staff contracts clearly highlight everyone’s responsibilities over protecting confidential data. My staff are very competent as regards data protection issues but also ensure all doors, windows and locks are secured and alarms are switched on.
‘I also recommend keeping copies of your computers’ serial numbers, as, more often than not, stolen items are sold on. If you are fortunate to gather leads to their whereabouts this will enable the police to clearly identify and retrieve them.’
Mr Buckley added: ‘Any burglary is extremely unsettling, and we are now even more conscious of our roles and responsibilities in maintaining the highest level of protection, for both our staff and patients.’
Mr Buckley is willing to advise therapists on practice-related security matters. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Protecting your business
Kent police recently issued guidance on deterring burglars www.kent.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/business-robbery/protect-your-business/, which we summarise below:
- keep the building’s exterior free from rubbish and graffiti as this will reduce the likelihood that criminals will target your business. If graffiti appear on a nearby wall or structure, ask your local council to dispatch their specialist cleaning team
- identify areas that could be vulnerable to a forced entry and make them more secure; ensure any service doors are locked when not in use
- install a monitored alarm. For advice and a list of approved suppliers of alarms and CCTV, visit the National Security Inspectorate and the Security Systems Alarms Inspection Board
- CCTV should provide facial recognition as well as good quality images and cover vulnerable areas. We recommend 24-hour digital CCTV. Advice on buying surveillance equipment is available from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner
- wheelie bins can be used to gain access to first-floor rooms and bushes can provide cover. Store bins safely and prune bushes and trees regularly
- provide sufficient lighting around the premises
- doors and windows are particularly vulnerable: use security-rated products to make them more burglar-resistant Visit Secure by Design
- avoid keeping cash on the premises and always use a bolted-down safe with a time lock and anti-tamper sensors that trigger an alarm
- don’t leave keys on the premises and ensure only designated staff have access to them. In case of emergency, keep a list of keyholders who can be contacted
Digital assets are at just as much risk as physical ones. You need to protect them, especially if you’re a small business with everything on a laptop. For more advice on how to back up your electronic data and stay safe from online fraud, visit ecommerce, online and telephone fraudAuthor: Ian A McMillan