Sunday, 20th April, 2014
Any home is a potential target for burglars; some are more appealing than others and some offer themselves up with a bow that begs to be opened.
An Angus pensioner has told how she fought off a murderer who threatened to kill her.
Former policewoman and Neighbourhood Watch activist Elizabeth McDonald tackled killer Graham Buist (30), who was sentenced to life at the High Court in Edinburgh last month, after he attempted to enter her property while on the run from the police for a prior offence.
Appealing for new members to join the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme, the 79-year-old told how she was confronted by Buist in the back garden of her home in Arbroath as he tried to scale a fence and cut through to evade officers.
Rather than react with fear, Elizabeth grabbed him by the arm and hauled him down, only to be met with a vile volley of death threats aimed at both her and her dogs.
She said: ''I saw this lad talking to my son-in-law and I was worried so I went over and asked what was going on. He tried to jump over my fence and I told him to stop and said there was no way he was getting over.
''He started shouting at me and telling me he would come back and kill me and kill my dogs. I told him to get away from my gate and not to come back, then I went inside and called the police.''
Elizabeth, who is chairwoman of Arbroath and District Neighbourhood Watch, had been looking after two labradors and her own jack-a-doodle when Buist tried to leap into her garden.
She said the police had been hunting the serial thief for a shoplifting offence and had eventually traced him following her call.
Although her instinct was to take the intruder on, she warned other elderly residents not to attempt the same feat and instead to call the police immediately if they feel in danger.
''When I was in the police in Dumbarton I learned that you have got to talk back to these people in the way they are talking to you,'' she told The Courier. ''I wasn't scared of him and I just told him to get away from the house before I called the police.''
Buist was ordered to serve at least 13 years and four months in prison, after hitting Joanne Rennie over the head with a brick and stabbing her to death on September 26 or 27 last year. The Arbroath murderer admitted carrying out the act at the flat they shared in Culloden Road, claiming a row over a loss of money had caused him to ''lose the plot''.
After the verbal attack against Elizabeth he was placed on a high tariff structured deferred sentence at Arbroath Sheriff Court, after admitting threatening to stab her and her dogs; and for stealing a boneless shoulder of meat and two ribeye steaks, from the Somerfield store in the town's East Muirlands Road.
His outburst against the pensioner continued while he was restrained in a police vehicle en route to Arbroath Police Station, as he continued to threaten to return to her address.
The offences were committed while Buist was subject to bail orders for theft of alcohol and a sat nav.
Elizabeth is appealing for Arbroath residents to get involved with the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
A special meeting for new co-ordinators and members to join up to boost numbers for the Neighbourhoon Watch scheme will be held at the Volunteer Centre in Guthrieport on Thursday at 6.45pm.
Elizabeth said: ''We are hoping for as many people as possible to come along and get involved in the group and are keen to have several members.''
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Following their recent residents’ survey, local Conservatives in Coldharbour, Mottingham & New Eltham ward have been working to establish a network of local Neighbourhood Watch groups in the area. There has been a significant increase in burglaries – particularly in the New Eltham part of the ward, over the last few months – and this has caused understandable concern.
NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch stickers were once a proud yellow badge displayed in the windows of homes across the Vale warning law breakers they were up against a network of neighbours ready to fight back against crime.
Please be aware of a growing scam where fraudsters are posing as bank staff or Police to dupe people into withdrawing and handing over cash, handing over their card and PIN, or transferring funds to the fraudsters account. Fraudsters often target older and more vulnerable members of the community and many victims have lost their life savings.
The security of a person’s home is always important. However, many home owners define their security by how expensive their alarm system is, or by what brand of exterior locks they use. But by thinking about security in terms of individual features, you home might not be as secure as it could be.