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Have A Crime Free Christmas!

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Published: 5 Dec 2012      

By Special Sergeant Andy McDonald Sponsored by CrimeHangers.com
The season to be jolly is fast approaching, but don’t let your cheer be ‘bah, humbugged’ by crime this Christmas. There are very simple steps that you can take to avoid you and your family from being victims of crime during this year’s festive period.

Vehicle Security
As the police advise all year round, remove all valuables from your vehicle, especially at Christmas. You may have been shopping, or even have wrapped gifts ready to spread to excited children in your family. So, if at all possible, remove all gifts from view or even from your car itself. Opportunist thieves could easily stumble across a parked car full of easy Christmas pickings!

Always remember to remove all other valuables as normal. A give away sign that you have a Sat Nav is the sucker mark on the windscreen. Try and remove this with a cloth.

CrimeHangers.com interviewed an RAC window repair technician fromReadingand asked him, on average, how many cars he attended per day, that had been broken into. We were staggered at the statistics!

On average, the technician attended seven cars per day. We also asked how many technicians were in his team. “I have nine others in my team at present and each technician responds to an average of seven vehicle break-ins per day, where drivers have left valuables like sat navs, on display for easy pickings.”
Based on seven days a week, this equated to a phenomenal 25,550 car break-ins per annum, in just one town alone!

Another crime which is sweeping theUKat present, is theft of vehicle registration plates. Criminals will steal number plates for bilkings (making off without paying) from fuel stations or bombing through speed cameras with somebody else’s number! This is easily avoidable by purchasing anti-tamper screws that a normal screwdriver won’t fit. These are available from most vehicle accessory shops, security companies or of course, the internet.

If you have an older type of vehicle, install anti-theft devices such as an alarm or immobiliser. However, these days, the only way to steal a vehicle is to take the car key itself. This brings us on to our next subject...

Home Security
Even at night if you’re in, always lock the door on the inside. Burglars tend to enter a property by placing a tool through the letterbox and pulling the handle down, which is a popular method usually carried out to steal car keys. Always leave your keys out of sight from the letterbox, as ‘fishing’ is often used to hook keys out.

Invest in timer switches for lights, especially now that it has got dark earlier. Try and get them to go on and off at different times and in different rooms, to make your house look occupied. Have you ever walked along a street and seen obvious empty houses at night. Try not to make yours look unoccupied.

If you go away for Christmas this year, tell a neighbour that you trust, so they can keep an eye on your house. There are simple things your neighbour can do to make your property look occupied:

  • Parking their car in your driveway
  • Switching lights on and off
  • Opening and closing curtains
  • Moving bins in and out

Whether you are in or out, locking your windows are very important indeed as the glass can be smashed and the handles easily opened from the outside. As long as you have easy access to your window lock and door keys and all members of your family know where they are stored, this will ease escape in the event of a fire.

Tempting wrapped gifts can also attract opportunist burglars. Try to avoid leaving presents under the Christmas tree in view of a window exposed to the public. It would be advisable to take any empty boxes used for expensive gifts, to the local refuse site rather than left for collection in view. This is clearly tv advertising you don’t need after buying your new state-of-the-art wide screen.

Christmas Shopping and Socialising
When shopping this year, always be mindful about who is around you and what they are doing. Thieves tend to wander about looking for open handbags, so ladies, don’t fall foul to an opportunist thieves.

Try to avoid placing receipts in your shopping bag. If your shopping is taken, the thief can then get a refund on the goods you have bought (if in cash). Always cover your card when you enter your card pin number.

I once spoke to a lady who had taken her young daughter Christmas shopping one year. They had a great time zipping from one shop to another. They had been shopping and automatically, the cashiers would place all their receipts in the shopping bag. As they were walking through the shopping mall, a man simply grabbed the bags that the daughter was holding and walked off. Unpleasant as it was, it was made worse with the receipts having been left in the bag, giving the thief an opportunity to exchange the bought goods for others.

Ladies, please be careful not to leave your handbag unattended on the trolley whilst food shopping. Thieves do walk around supermarkets looking for an opportunity to steal handbags. Shopper’s distracted by sales and BOGOFF deals can easily become another bag snatch statistic.

For general safety when walking back from town after a night out, again be aware of your surroundings and how your body language would look to others. A confident style of walking often deters criminals from targeting that individual. If possible, avoid walking back alone, especially in dark secluded areas, or simply book a taxi. At all costs, avoid driving if intoxicated. If over the limit, you could be stopped by the police and arrested...or worse, cause a serious or fatal accident. Always walk or book a taxi if drinking this Christmas. Try and organise a designated driver for the evening. Some establishments offer free soft drinks for designated drivers.

If you need some extra cash, try and avoid pulling out your bank card until you reach a cashpoint. At the cashpoint, check to make sure nothing looks unusual about where your card slots in. Scammers can fix fake faciers to the top of the ATM’s to scan cards. This is why it is good practice to cover the key pad when punching in your pin number, apart from keeping any prying eyes away that may be lurking behind you.

With this all in mind, it seems to be a lot to take in, but at the end of the day it boils down to simple common sense to avoid being a victim of crime. If you take these steps, you should have a crime free Christmas and I wish you a very happy one indeed!


NOTE: CrimeHangers.com is not linked to or favoured by any police service.