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Wise words from OWL - Neighbourhood Watch updates

[see update at the bottom]

The neighbourhood watch scheme, that is run in co-ordination with the local police, sends out items of local interest, in particular related to current crime.

Recent reminders have been about theft of catalytic converters from parked cars and of fake email.

You can sign up directly with OWL so that you receive notices like this and other information via

Here is the text (slightly edited) of these two recent emails.

Increased Incidents of Hacking/Scam eMails

Dear Watch Member,

Recent reports about what appeared to be hacked emails resulting in contacts being stolen. Scammers are sending emails claiming to be a person of trust (a known person to the recipient). They were asking for money or for Amazon Vouchers. The puzzling bit was that the owners of the “hacked emails” didn’t click on any links or opened/downloaded any unknown attachments.
I have contacted the Met’s Cybercrime Unit who have investigated and have now informed me of several sites that have been hacked and millions of emails addresses that have been stolen.
To check if any of the sites that you use has been hacked, go to
Enter your email address into the website and it will tell you if your email has appeared in a breach (i.e. if a website that holds your email address /password has been hacked). If your email address appears on a breached website, you should change your password for that website (and any other account if you have used the same password). If you use different passwords, there is no risk, even if the site has been hacked.

It’s also best to have a separate password for your email accounts that you don’t use anywhere else. Make it a habit to change the passwords on a regular basis, using a combination of letters, numbers, upper case, and signs. And consider using 2 factor authentication
This means that if hackers get your email and password, they shouldn’t be able to get into your account as they would need another factor (like your mobile phone)

For more information and advice please visit

Associated Documents via OWL (account required)

* Little Book of Cyber Crime (3272 KB)
* Little Leaflet of Cyber Advice (3920 KB)

Theft from Motor Vehicle - Catalytic Converters

Dear Watch Member,

The precious metal in catalytic converters has led to an increase in their theft.

To protect your converter from theft, ask your vehicle dealership if they can give you any advice on locks or guards that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer.
Alternatively, try to make sure your vehicle is parked in a garage overnight, or if you have a commercial vehicle park it in a secure compound. If this isn’t possible, park in an area that is well-lit and overlooked and try to park so that the convertor can’t be easily reached by potential thieves. Vehicles that sit high above the road are particularly vulnerable.
You should also register your converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of. Visit: for more details.
There have been recent thefts in Eastfield Rd, Baldwyn Gardens and Goldsmith Ave.

UPDATE from 15-Feb-2020:
Dear Watch Member,

You may be aware that West Area (Ealing, Hillingdon, and Hounslow) has seen an increase in catalytic converter thefts over recent months and a considerable number of vehicles that has been affected.

Many of the victims were registered on OWL and had also registered on OWL CCTV register to indicate to the police that they had video doorbells and CCTV systems. Imagery taken by the Police as evidence from these victims had showed masked suspects and the vehicle they were using, a grey VW Golf.

A few days ago, in the early hours, following an offence just outside High Wycombe, a grey VW Golf was captured on resident’s CCTV changing its number plates on Ickenham Ward. This was immediately reported to the Metropolitan and Thames Valley Police.

Lunchtime, 12th February, Metropolitan Police units working closely with individual NHW members on high alert for this bandit vehicle, saw the vehicle in the Ruislip area containing four male occupants.

A chase ensued involving Metropolitan Police Interceptor Units, with air support from India 99 the Police Helicopter and from dog units. The vehicle crashed up near Swakeleys Roundabout and, after a chase on foot, all four males were arrested.

The VW Golf was taken in a burglary in the Surrey area and has been involved in serious crimes including at least 15 catalytic converter thefts in the Metropolitan Police area, and more in the Thames Valley Police area.

The car contained balaclavas and equipment used in the commission of offences.

All four men remain in custody and have been transferred to the Thames Valley Police area, where other serious crimes are under investigation by detectives there.

This was a superb result and shows the benefits to the Police of the OWL CCTV Register, and the close working relationship between Neighbourhood Watch members and our Police across borders - very well done to all officers involved.