If you are a footballer living in Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, or the surrounding hinterland, you would do well to lock your door, shut all the windows, rig the alarm system and prepare to dial 999.
Make sure your Porsche keys are hidden away from sight and if you should wish to make a daring excursion outside, then by all means back your 4x4 into the heavy-duty garage. But do so quickly.
Lock away those medals, hide those swapped shirts under the bed and safely lock up your Rolex, expensive studs and any other exuberant bling.
Hide the Wag in the basement accompanied by the young ones. For you my friends, are living in the capital of football crime.
These were the four key steps listed in the pamphlet that came with the expensive mansions purchased by the stars of Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United.
I once knew a guy who worked for a security firm in Chester. He recalled receiving an anxious call from Sir Alex Ferguson ensuring his alarm system was up to date. I’m sure today that firm will be inundated with calls from panicking pampered professionals.
The latest victim of a household burglary was Everton and England centre back, Phil Jagielka. The 27 year old was robbed while watching his teammates play Hull City on television on Wednesday night.
Among the lost possessions: jewelry and a Range Rover. It takes the tally to 11 players who have been robbed in the Merseyside area in recent years.
The irony is that the injured Jagielka was seemingly unable to follow in the steps of fellow ex-Toffee star Duncan Ferguson due to the ruptured ligaments in his knee. Not that I am recommending any footballers to confront dangerous thieves in their houses.
Ferguson was a confrontational and intimidating figure on the pitch. You would have to be mad to attempt a robbery on the property of the short-tempered 6'4" Scottish international.
Yet in 2001, two local youths from Lancashire broke into his house and stole bottles of champagne, pictures and CDs—hardly the most glamorous items. But then today's superstars are overpaid.
Nevertheless, one of the young men was caught in the act by Ferguson. After a brief tussle, Ferguson restrained the thief and promptly sat on the criminal until the Police arrived. An effective method of submission.
You would expect the brave actions of Ferguson to warn off any other crooks harbouring any intentions of robbing the Scot. But another sadomasochist endured the wrath of the imposing "Duncan Disorderly".
Carl Bishop was apprehended by Ferguson on his premises in 2003. He too was found guilty of stealing champagne and pictures. Inevitably he fell victim to the fury of Fergie, receiving a seething punch to the face.
Bishop accused the Everton player of assault after receiving severe bruising to the face and a number of cuts to the head. However the police took no further action and conceded that given the circumstances, Ferguson had acted in a manner to be considered reasonable.
It was the start of a series of serious of robberies involving football players in the surrounding area.
Jerzy Dudek, Pepe Reina, Jermaine Pennant, Lucas Leiva, Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard have been subjected to intruders in their homes, some armed.
The wife of Roque Santa Cruz was held at knifepoint in an armed robbery last December as a number of expensive possessions were taken.
Darren Fletcher’s wife and mother-in-law were subjected to a similar ordeal in February while the United midfielder was abroad playing in Italy. A knife wielding gang threatened the pair while they seized pieces of jewellery. The couple’s children were sleeping upstairs.
It marks a worrying trend within English football. The ransacking of the plush pads seems to occur while the players are away in action for their respective clubs, whether it be in Europe or Hull.
Indeed it could be suggested that the perpetrators of last night’s crime weren’t Everton fans. Presumably they believed Jagielka would be playing at KC stadium. Little did they know the crocked star would be watching the game at home.
Duncan Ferguson may have retired from football. But his phone will be buzzing with calls from anxious footballers looking for kick boxing lessons. Or maybe even a burly security guard.