© 2017 The Harpenden Society

Keeping Watch

Our Community Safety Working Group, led by the sapient Alan Jackson, offers more advice to Harpenden towns-folk.

Theft of car keys and cars

Several recent vehicle thefts were facilitated by the owners leaving the car keys near letterboxes or insecure windows and doors. Never place car keys where they can be seen.

Catalytic converters

There has been a recent increase in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles in Harpenden, particularly Batford. Large vans and 4x4s are particularly at risk. It’s not easy to prevent such thefts so the emphasis is on obtaining evidence (park near CCTV) that can lead to convictions.

Distraction thefts

If you’re standing near an ATM you’re vulnerable to distraction thieves. Be vigilant. If anybody says you’ve dropped money on the floor or produces a map and asks for directions totally disregard them (then have a good look at them and make a note of their appearance – it may help somebody else).

Thefts from vehicles

These have recently increased in Harpenden. Park in well lit areas and leave nothing attractive in view (just a jacket? what about the cash, cards and smartphone that might be in the pocket?).

The St Albans and Harpenden Volunteer Police Cadets

The Cadets are a uniformed voluntary youth organisation, supported by Hertfordshire Constabulary. Fourteen to eighteen year olds who may be interested in joining should email


Fraudulent emails

Watch out for fraudulent emails claiming to be sent by Apple iTunes, detailing a recent purchase. The email shows a purchase receipt and states that if you did not make the purchase in question you should click on the link provided to obtain a refund. If you do, you’ll be taken to a malicious web page and asked to give your card and personal details. Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you receive such an email.

An email fraudulently claiming to be from Royal Mail is currently circulating: it contains a virus. The email states that the Royal Mail is holding a parcel or letter for the victim, who is then required to contact Royal Mail to arrange for the item to be resent or collected. This is clearly an approach that looks very plausible, so it would be easy to fall victim. If the instructions are followed the virus encrypts files on the victim’s system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted. If payment is delayed the ransom increases. Nasty one, and perhaps not easy to spot. To protect yourself (this applies to most scams) you need to see if the email is addressed to you or if it is generically addressed; and to look at the quality of the images on the email. Never open attachments to unsolicited emails regardless of who sent them. Don’t click on a link to a website: go to the website yourself and log in from there.

Help for victims of crime

Hertfordshire has a Victim Care Centre known as ‘Beacon’. It offers support to victims of crime, regardless of whether the crime has been reported to the police. To access the service visit www.hertfordshirebeacon.org or call 0300 011 5555 from 7am to 10pm daily.

Please Note: Most police incidents are not crime-related

A mere 22 percent of incidents to which the police respond are crime-related. Most incidents concern such things as damage-only road collisions, natural disasters such as flooding, protests, licensing firearms, missing persons, abandoned vehicles and hoax calls.

Autumn 2015 Newsletter

The Unveiling of a New Editor

This is the moment faithful readers have been waiting for since 2011; the announcement of a new editor. Eric Midwinter is to step down in March 2015, as announced in the last issue, after producing twenty editions of the Harpenden Society News.

The editor would like to take this opportunity of thanking himself for having the good sense to go while the going is good. The new editor will bat himself in as Assistant Editor for two issues before being proposed and seconded formally at the next AGM in the spring of 2016, always provided Rupert Murdoch does not make a move to expand his media empire.

The personage in question is ALAN BUNTING.

Alan ticks all boxes and a few we did not know had been manufactured. He has been a Harpenden resident for 54 years; a Harpenden Society member for several decades; an ardent Harpenden Green Belt Association member and a LADACAN member. He is the Membership Secretary of Harpenden Local History Society

He has been a working journalist for 52 years, on a freelance basis for 45 of those busy years and he edited for 14 years the Bunting Society, a genealogy-angled biannual journal. He admits to being 'reasonably competent with a camera', a claim which if made by the current editor of the Harpenden Society News would cause guffawing derision among his extended family.

Perhaps he will be best known to you as a regular and ever sensible letter-writer to the Herts Advertiser while sources reveal that he sustains an affectionate if insistent correspondence with the local councillors.

It's a dream appointment.

Welcome to the journalistic fray, Alan

It is proposed to place a bench in memory of Richard in Ambrose Wood, known more familiarly as 'the Little Wood'.

As many of you will know, Shirley and Richard Thomas fought a lengthy battle to secure the public rights of way across and around this pleasing piece of woodland on Ambrose Lane, just across from the top of Bloomfield Road. Furthermore, Richard acted as an unofficial forester, often to be seen clearing the litter, mending broken fences and gates, even reinforcing the path between Ambrose Wood and the vaster woods to the rear of the Oval. It was a spot he found peaceful and restful and no memorial could be more fitting.

Above - The Celtic Forest Monmouth Bench

Should there be a surplus, it would be forwarded to Richard's chosen charity the Prison Fellowship (Bovingdon), yet another arrow in the full quiver of his voluntary endeavours.

Those who would like to contribute to 'the Bench Fund' should forward their cheques, made payable to 'The Harpenden Society'  marked 'Bench Fund' on the back of the cheque, to Harry Downie, 66 Eastmoor Park, Harpenden AL5 1BW.

Richard Thomas; ‘The Bench Fund’