A time of plenty – for thieves too! - POLICE BEAT

Well, everything’s underway ...

The trees are going up, the Christmas lights are being turned on, those Christmas decorations that have been on display in most of our larger shops since the end of August now look relevant, and the same festive adverts are on the TV again and again.

Yes, Christmas is coming and with it, the excitement and the frantic rushing around have begun in earnest.

It’s a time when everything goes up a gear. We’re in a hurry; we need to do loads of things; we have so much to plan.

But, if we’re not careful, while doing all of these things, we can become careless and lose sight of those simple crime prevention measures that we practise all year. I’m sure you know what I mean:

“Oh, that present will be OK in the car for five minutes while I just go into the supermarket.”

“Doesn’t the tree with all the presents around it look great from out in the street?”

“I can never remember my PIN. If I put it in my wallet with the card I’ll have it handy.”

Each of these is asking for trouble.

Just as Christmas is a busy time for everyone, it can equally be a time of plenty for the opportunist thief if we let them take advantage of our rushing around.

A recent event in which a “skimming” device was fitted by potential thieves on to a supermarket cashpoint just highlights that there are those ready to take advantage of us at this busy time.  

So what can we do? Let’s start with the car. In a number of articles, I’ve highlighted how thefts from unattended vehicles often take place when valuables are left on display in them.

Wallets, laptops, sports gear and all kinds of items have been stolen simply because their owners have been daft enough to leave them in their vehicles.

And, at this time of the year, it can be the case with Christmas gifts if we don’t remember the basic rule: never leave valuables on display in your vehicle.

So, when you’re out shopping and are weighed down with items, put them out of view in the boot if you can’t carry them and never leave any valuables on display. Don’t give the thief an early Christmas present at your expense! 

The same applies to houses. While it is not a common occurrence in our area, the press sometimes features householders who are burgled and have their presents stolen in the run-up to Christmas.

It is very emotive and distressing for those involved and has a particular poignancy if young children are the victims when their presents are stolen.

But, just as with any other time of the year, we have to think of home security.

For example, don’t leave the curtains open and all your presents and tree on display while you’re out. It not only invites possible attention from a thief, it is also a potential fire hazard! Consider your home security.

Close the curtains, put on timer lights and ensure your house is secure.

That way you help keep your presents and your other household items safe. 

And finally, wallets and credit cards: Never write your PIN number down and keep it with your card! You don’t think it happens? Believe me, it does!

A few months ago, I was in a queue at the shops and a lady was paying using her new card.

She told the cashier she’d just got the card and produced a piece of paper from her purse with the PIN written down. Big mistake!

If you lose your wallet or purse, that’s your bank account being accessed. 

So please think about keeping your property safe. Locally, my team will be continuing to check car parks to deter thieves and to catch offenders.

They’ll also be taking details of unattended cars with property on display so warning letters can be sent out advising on vehicle security.

We continue to run anti-burglary patrols to deter burglars. But you need to do your bit too. 

So, have a Happy Christmas and don’t give a thief the chance to ruin it.