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News Release

Free software keeps thieves at bay

Dated: 01 Feb 2012

Police are urging people to keep criminals at bay by making the most of free anti-theft software packages.

It follows an incident where a thief was caught red-handed after a forward-thinking victim had taken steps to protect her property.

In October a burglary took place in the Heaton area of the city during which an Apple Mac laptop was stolen - the victim on this occasion had installed Prey anti-theft software on the machine.

On December 29, the victim contacted police to say the software had activated and had taken a picture of the offender, retrieved details in relation to a Facebook account and also where the laptop currently was.

Officers attended immediately and arrested a 27-year-old man and recovered the laptop. He was later cautioned for handling stolen goods.

Police are urging people to make the most of new technology to help keep their property safe.

Newcastle East Neighbourhood Sergeant Kev Benson said: "Some of the property stolen during a burglary can be expensive and can have irreplaceable things stored on them, such as important university projects or exam work, together with sentimental items such as photographs.

"These are the sort of things that people want back and by making the most of the available technology they can take steps to protect their property.

"In this instance the victim had installed free anti-theft software which is widely available on the internet and this led to the recovery of her property and an arrest being made.

"Many electrical items also now come with built-in tracking devices which has also been used to good effect in the past in this area and we'd encourage people to activate this wherever possible."

The Neighbourhood Policing Team is currently carrying out an operation aimed at targeting suspected burglars and recovering stolen property. Sgt Benson said the use of new technology can go hand in hand with traditional policing methods.

He added: "Modern technology has its place alongside the more traditional police work and we'll continue to combine all investigative techniques to target burglars.

"I'd encourage people to take steps to protect their property to help ensure it can be traced and returned and the offender dealt with appropriately."

Police are also advising buyers to be vigilant. Sgt Benson said: "This was the first time the man cautioned had had any involvement with police so this should be a warning to others buying property that if they aren't vigilant they could end up with a criminal record."

More advice on home security can be found on the force website at www.northumbria.police.uk. Advice can also be sought from local officers via 101 ext 69191.