Britons are being warned about secret symbols dubbed “Da Pinchi Code” used by crooks to target homeowners that have expensive cars or even pets that might prove lucrative to crooks.
It comes as one family from Sandwell, in the West Midlands, noticed suspicious markings on a tree outside their home.
Days later after noticing the markings, they were targeted by a gang who stole three cars, including an Audi, BMW, and a Mercedes.
The family was concerned about the so-called burglar sign when they first noticed it, as parts of a tree bark outside the property were “scratched off or burned” at the base.
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A family member described the unusual sightings which were spotted outside a week before the cars were stolen during the early hours of August 9.
He told Birmingham Live: “We found a suspicious mark on the tree outside of our house, I don’t know if they used that to mark out our house or anything. We first noticed that about a week before, it was like they scratched off a load of bark, or burnt the tree slightly at the bottom. It’s directly outside the drive.”
He added: “We thought it was a bit weird but we thought nothing of it. It was an odd mark, we can’t 100 percent confirm if this was associated with the crime or not though.”
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Devon and Cornwall Police has previously shared an image of signs used by gangs that people should look out for. A cross, for instance, means a house is a ‘good target’, whereas a circle with a cross could imply there is ‘nothing worth stealing’.
Other markings are used to communicate whether a property is alarmed, or whether residents have been burgled before.
The Safeguarding hub shares home protection advice and information across the UK. They explained: “We have spent many hours speaking to distraught victims, visiting crime scenes and dealing with burglars. We have actually seen and experienced these symbols being used by criminals. This is not to say that this is a common practice between bands of thieves, for most burglars work alone.”
They added: “We do not want to scaremonger and we can say confidentially that the use of these symbols is very rare. But, if you are a caregiver to an elderly or vulnerable person and spot strange marks outside their home, do you really want to dismiss it out of hand without just ensuring that the symbol is legitimate?”
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