CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE
Your belongings may be important to you but to a thief they are just a way of making easy cash.
Marking your possessions makes them less attractive to burglars because they are hard to sell on and too hot to handle.
Every year we recover property worth thousands of pounds but are unable to return it to its rightful owner because it canít be properly identified.
Protecting your home
against thieves is vital but marking your belongings, especially those with
sentimental value, could deter thieves or help us prove they were stolen.
How can I mark my property?
There are several ways to mark your belongings and you can buy easy to use kits for each method from DIY stores.
Engraving or etching:
†Use an electric engraving tool to leave a permanent mark on most hard surfaces.
†Use an ultraviolet pen to leave a mark which only becomes visible under a UV lamp. The mark can fade over time so needs to be renewed regularly.
†Use ceramic marking pens to leave a permanent mark on china and glass without cutting or scratching the surface.
Modern televisions allow you to record your details electronically and prevent others accessing them with a security code.
A simple way to identify your property is to mark it with your postcode followed by your house or flat number.
After doing so, take photographs of the items alongside a ruler or tape measure. This will help make any insurance claims you may need to make in the future easier.
For more information on property marking download the Home Office Coded for keeps leaflet.
With the Christmas holiday season almost upon us, now, half way through November, is a good time to remind ourselves to take steps to make sure our Christmas isn't spoiled by criminals.
Criminals take the opportunities afforded them by the extra shopping that we do, the hustle and bustle of town centres, as we rush around, and the value of the goods we buy as presents, and store in our homes, until the big day. We might also be more trusting and generous at Christmas when requests for charity are made, giving the unscrupulous a chance to collect for their own causes.
So what can we do?
The advice below is often common sense, but you might overlook it in your haste to get everything ready. We have applied normal crime prevention advice to Christmas.
When the shops are crowded, the pickpocket 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.†† Never keep them in accessible and vulnerable rear trouser pockets.
If you have too many bags you will be too busy trying to hold on to these to be aware of anyone stealing from you. You could try to make smaller shopping trips rather than do it all at once and carry too much. Have your purse/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. Arrange to collect heavy items from stores when you have finished all of your shopping. Keep your chequebook, and any debit or credit cards, safely out of reach and out of view.††
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. Now is a good time to check that you know what you have both normally (TV, Video etc) and with the extra presents you have bought. You may well find you need to check your insurance to make sure you are covered for the value of goods in your home. Take the frame numbers of new cycles and the serial numbers of new electrical equipment for future reference. 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. Don't forget to cancel newspapers and milk if you have them delivered and either redirect your mail through the Post Office or have your neighbour take mail into the house - unopened Christmas cards and mail are sure signs that a house is empty.
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.
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. Make prior arrangements as to how you will get home. Avoid any potential disturbances on the street. Stay with friends if you can. Avoid the temptation to take a minicab on the street, even if you are having difficulty getting a cab - it is illegal for minicabs to take passengers who have not pre-booked. Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be back. Don't drink too much - you could become a target for thieves.