Don’t become a victim of crime, MLA warns sports clubs
Amateur and part-time football and rugby clubs are being warned to tighten up on security after a spate of thefts that have left cash-strapped teams counting the cost.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) has sent out the warning after thieves targeted football, rugby union and rugby league grounds all over the country, stealing thousands of pounds in cash, equipment and valuable items.
The MLA – the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession – has urged clubs to make security as high a priority as scoring goals and tries, and has issued a number of guidelines on how sports clubs can combat thieves.
The not-for-profit association, which is recognised as the authoritative body for locksmithing by the Police and Home Office, is urging clubs across the country to consult an MLA-approved locksmith, who will be able to carry out a security assessment on their stadium, training ground and outbuildings and recommend suitable security requirements, including locks and fittings, as well as providing input from a safety point of view.
The warning comes after a string of break-ins across the country. This month, burglars broke into Ossett Trinity Rugby Club in Yorkshire, before stealing £2,800 from the club’s safe, rugby kits and trophies. Police also launched a hunt this month after a burglar broke into Thatto Heath Crusaders Amateur Rugby League Club and stole a large quantity of cash from tills and fruit machines. In April, Seaham Coast Youth Football Club near Sunderland was left devastated when it was hit by thieves, who stole a generator, footballs, crisps and sweets, while, in July, Warminster Football Club had their clubhouse broken into twice in a week and raiders took £280 from the cash register.
MLA Technical Manager Justin Freeman said:
“There is clearly an on-going issue and rugby and football clubs perhaps need to take a closer look at their security. Our advice would be to have an MLA-approved locksmith to carry out an inspection and advise on the best security measures.
“There are a lot of measures that can be taken to beef up security and ensure that amateur clubs, who rely heavily on sponsorship and simply can’t afford to become burglary victims, don’t fall prey to thieves.”
The MLA has issued the following guidelines to sports clubs:
• Ensure good quality locks are installed on the main entrance, clubhouse and the dressing-room. For convenience, a Master Key System can be used, but limit the number of people who carry the master key.
• Always lock the dressing-room during each half of the game to avoid players’ valuables, including watches, mobile phones and iPods being stolen.
• Install lockers or safe deposit box in the dressing-room for valuable items.
• Inspect doors and windows to make sure appropriate locks are fitted, are in good condition and meet insurance requirements. If unsure, ask a vetted MLA locksmith for advice and a full security assessment.
• Keep valuable items out of sight, away from doors or windows.
• Limit the number of people who have access to the dressing-room key.
• Where possible, and if funds allow, build perimeter fencing around the stadium and training ground.
• CCTV is a useful visual deterrent and cameras should cover the reception area and the rear of property.
• Don’t leave tools around for would-be thieves to use to break into the ground.
• Put padlocks on outside buildings containing the groundsmen’s equipment and place them on the Master Key System.