Christmas crime

Whether you're shopping, at home or out on the town, it's always worth taking a few simple steps to make sure your festive season isn't spoiled by criminals.

Christmas

Shopping
When the shops are crowded, a thief has more chance to steal from you. If you can't arrange to shop during less busy times, make sure you stay alert and be extra careful with your wallet or purse. Keep your chequebook and cheque card separately. Have your purse or wallet close to your body and don't carry too much cash.

The same applies to travelling on crowded buses or trains. If you travel by car, make sure you park in a well-lit area, lock all doors and windows and do not leave presents in view.

Try not to return to your car to leave purchases in the boot before continuing with your shopping trip as thieves may well watch car parks for just such a chance.

At home
Having bought all those wonderful presents, don't make it easy for someone to steal from your home. Keep them out of sight until last thing on Christmas Eve and if you 'hide' or store larger items such as bicycles in the shed or outbuildings, make sure they are very secure. Remember, empty boxes left outside advertise that you have new goods inside - dispose of packing carefully.

If you go out for the evening - make it look like someone is at home by turning on lights and the radio. Don't leave curtains open so people can see your decorations as potential thieves can see in. Be extra careful about locking doors and windows. As a fire precaution, don't leave Christmas lights on in the house whilst you are out.

If you go away for the holiday period - use an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home. Strangers at the door - genuine delivery personnel usually have uniforms and liveried vehicles and should not need to come into your home. Charity collectors will have identification and will not be offended if you ask to see it. If you are not sure but want to make a donation, ask whether these can be made in other ways, perhaps through a bank.

Out on the town
With office parties and general Christmas celebrations, pubs, restaurants and other venues are often crowded. Don't leave bags over the back of your chair and keep wallets and purses close to your body to make it more difficult for the pickpocket. Busy places make it easier for the sneak thief, so be alert at all times. Don't drink too much - you could become a target for thieves.

The twelve frauds of Christmas
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has compiled a list of twelve frauds that we suspect criminals may use during this festive period.

Christmas home security
The most effective way to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of burglary is simple: secure property properly and remove high value items from view. Follow the tips below to keep your home safe and secure this Christmas.

  • Don't leave presents under the tree particularly if they are visible from windows or doors.
  • Make use of the free and secure registration websites to register items of value such as I.T., mobile phones, cycles, electrical items such as TV's, Games Consoles etc
  • Dispose of present packaging carefully as empty boxes left outside can advertise that you have new and desirable goods inside your home.
  • Never keep large amounts of cash at home.
  • Ensure that all doors and windows are locked- use a dead or double lock on outside doors
  • Lock up sheds and garages so thieves cannot gain access to ladders and tools which they could use to gain access to your home.
  • Never leave keys anywhere near the front door; burglars know where to look.
  • When you go out at night, leave a light on with curtains drawn so it looks like someone is home.
  • Visit www.securedbydesign.com for police approved security products.
  • If you do arrive home and notice signs of a break-in:
    • Don't go in or call out - the intruder could still be inside.
    • Go to a neighbour's to call the Police.
    • Don't touch anything or tidy up.

For more crime prevention information:

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