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Don’t let thieves steal your Christmas, warns Suffolk Police

With Christmas now almost upon us, Suffolk Police are reminding people to ensure their personal and home security remains a priority as part of its #SaferChristmas campaign.

The festive season can be a tempting time for thieves as towns are busier than normal, with Christmas shoppers carrying more money and distracted by the prospect of buying the perfect item, and homes are filled with gadgets and expensive gifts.

As part of the Constabulary’s Christmas campaign, crime prevention messages will feature on a series of Christmas jumpers, supported via social media, in a bid to encourage the public to take simple steps to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Chief Superintendent David Skevington said: “Unfortunately increased footfall in shopping areas often means an increase in reports of personal theft. Thieves use a variety of tactics and distractions; dipping into a bag – often underneath a cover of a jacket or newspaper, bumping into you, distracting you so your focus is not on your property, or actively cutting the straps from your bag.

“Officers will be stepping up patrols of busy town centres, but people can help themselves by taking simple precautions against personal theft. Keep your money close to you and don’t carry too much cash; be vigilant when withdrawing money from ATMs and cover your hand when entering your pin.”

As many more of us are electing to buy gifts online in an effort to avoid the crowds on the High Street, Suffolk Police are also urging online shoppers to be on alert for fraudulent activity.

David Skevington continues: “It’s important to be aware that fraudsters advertise fake discount offers on websites and social media to tempt people into falling for their scams. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. We would recommend people use the official websites of online retailers and brands they know and trust, and always check the delivery, insurance and returns policy.”

Suffolk Police works closely with Suffolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers to identify scams, rogue traders and unsafe products. For more information on how to keep up to date on activity, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/JoinTheFight.

The downside of town centres becoming busier with Christmas shoppers and revellers is that homes are often left unoccupied for longer spells, making them an easy target for burglars looking for an easy opportunity. Officers are encouraging everyone to remain vigilant to any suspicious activity in their neighbourhood, and urge them to report anything that seems out of place.

David Skevington concludes: “We recommend people use the ‘close it, lock it, check it’ system for home security, double checking that windows and doors are properly secured to help prevent the risk of burglary. A light on can be a simple tactic to deter a thief when no one’s home, and avoid displaying Christmas presents where they can be seen by would-be burglars.

“We would also encourage residents to sign up to our SAFEkey initiative, the Constabulary’s key fob recovery and keyholder database service, which provides protection and assistance should you lose your keys.

“Our Christmas campaign is designed to advise people on how to stay one step ahead of those committing crime. We want people to enjoy themselves this Christmas but not at the expense of others.”

Preventing personal and online theft

* Carry wallets in an inside pocket, where possible, but never in your back pocket.

* Zip up hand and shoulder bags, and carry with the fasteners against your body to prevent a thief from dipping into it.

* Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm, or in front of you.

* Never leave your bags or other valuables unattended.

* Ensure any bags placed on the on the floor are in front of you so that any movement of the bag will be noticeable.

* Where possible, use a credit card when shopping online as most companies offer protection for your purchases.

* Don’t send confidential personal or financial information via email.

* Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date on all electronic devices.

Home security advice

* Avoid publicising Christmas gifts or travel plans on social media.

* Consider fitting burglar alarms to deter a thief from targeting your home.

* Use timer switches to turn on lights and radios to give the impression that someone is home.

* Never leave spare keys in a hiding place outside, such as under the doormat or flowerpot.

* Ensure that valuables can’t be seen from the window.

* Make sure that no tools have been left out that could be used to break in to your property.

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