The criminal chalk marks – including an X for “good aim” and a flower for “wealthy” – were used to mark off homes from potential burglaries
A concerned southwest London resident has sparked a debate on social media about whether his property is secure against a possible burglary – after he found a mysterious cross engraved in a flower pot this week.
The Richmond property owner released on Next Door app their concern after finding the chalk mark.
In the past, UK police authorities have published a list of symbols – known as the ‘da pinchi code’ – which they believe could be used by criminals to mark homes as burglary targets – including a flower sign meaning ‘wealthy’ D symbol meaning “too risky” and a bookmark indicating “woman at risk”.
Others say the markings are just an “urban myth.”
The Richmond resident wrote this week: “We found the ‘x’ mark in black chalk on our pot on our patio this morning.
“This is definitely a man-made stain and wasn’t there before as I was washing the pots a few days ago and would have noticed.” “We are concerned that this could be a robbery as a potential target.”
Urban myth or real code? Police have in the past published a list of symbols that burglars could use to mark off property
This week, a resident of south-west London said he found a chalk cross on a flowerpot on his terrace, fearing it could be a symbol used by criminals
Many responded that the tag could indicate that the social media user’s home may have been targeted by criminals, and urged caution.
One replied: “It’s a well-known sign of burglary, a car in the driveway worth taking (or a CAT converter) and it’s also known for making the people living there look like vulnerable people .” Be sure to rearrange the pots.’
Another wrote: “My friend had a marking on her driveway and her car was stolen.”
MailOnline have reached out to Surrey Police for comment.
Other people dismissed the idea of a meaning behind the symbols as “scaremongering” and said there was little evidence the chalk markings ever led to a burglary at a property.
One wrote, “I’ve heard stories of ‘secret break-ins’ before and it always turns out to be paranoia about something totally innocent.” I suspect the whole thing is urban myth. If someone were going to break into a house, why on earth would they announce it in advance by leaving a trail outside?”
Another agreed, saying: “Burglary signs are a myth, although local police forces and tabloids fall for them.” Can anyone find an example of a home break-in where markings were also found on the outside?
“We should see a photo of it, but as far as we know it was just a kid playing with chalk.”
The Safeguarding Hub, which offers online advice to raise awareness about protecting vulnerable people, says the jury is out on whether the symbols actually lead to crime.
The website states: “The use of the symbols is now denied by some police forces, who have issued statements advising that there is no evidence these marks are linked to any crime.”
“Against the link to burglars, it is argued that they are actually harmless road markings used by utilities or broadband companies to mark planned work.”
“But a bit like ‘crop circles,’ these reports of strange markings keep popping up on site.”