Take steps to avoid becoming a victim this Christmas

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Wiltshire Police are underlining the stay safe message this month Wiltshire Police are underlining the stay safe message this month

Wiltshire Police, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service and the Swindon Community Safety Partnership have come together to run a campaign throughout December, which focuses on how people can keep safe and help prevent crime during the festive season.

This week, the Christmas Safety campaign focus is on the prevention of crime with advice on how to keep your valuables, homes and vehicles safe.

The festive season is particularly tempting for criminals as they expect to find gifts and high value goods in people’s homes and cars.

It is important to ensure that your house is secure and that you take precautions to stop criminals who will have no thought about taking your carefully chosen gifts for loved ones.

Towns will be exceptionally busy and with increased numbers of people on Wiltshire streets, it is easier for thieves to strike unnoticed.

Below are a few simple tips to help prevent you not becoming a victim of crime whilst out and about during the Christmas period:

• When out shopping, keep your purse and handbag near you

• Keep any cash that you may have on you to a minimum

• Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are a target - ensure that you keep them secure and out of sight

• Be careful at cash machines and when paying with your card - shield your PIN at all times.

With increased numbers of shoppers out and about, there are inevitably more vehicles in car parks which provide more opportunities for criminals.

Don’t let your vehicle be an easy target by following the advice outlined below:

• Don’t leave Christmas presents or other valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards, cheque books or vehicle documents in your car. If it is unavoidable - place them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off

• Remove satellite navigation systems and clean away suction marks on windows

• Make sure car doors, windows and sun roofs are all properly closed and locked

• Remove your stereo if you can - mark it with the vehicle registration number if you can’t

• Leave your glove box open to show that there is nothing in it

• Leave absolutely nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check.

• If you own a van, make sure you remove tools overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear.

It is equally important to keep your Christmas gifts safe at home by following the points outlined below:

• Never open your door to anyone that hasn’t made an appointment - if you are expecting them, always check their identification and if you are at all suspicious, contact Wiltshire Police by dialling 101

• All doors should be fitted with a minimum of five lever mortice locks

• All windows should be fitted with locks except any designated as a fire escape

• Close and lock all windows and doors when leaving the house - even if you are just going into the garden

• Keep front and back doors locked whilst you are in your home to prevent individuals walking in without your knowledge

• Close all windows when leaving a room - especially those at the front of the house

• Double check that all doors and windows are locked at night

• Keep valuable items out of view and reach of windows and doors

• Never leave a spare key in a hiding place like a plant pot or letterbox – a thief knows all the hiding places

• Keep car keys out of sight - never leave them on view

• Hide financial documents – if someone does break in, you don’t want them to also steal from your bank account

• Lock tools and ladders away so that a thief cannot use them to break in

• Never leave a shed or garage unlocked, even when you are gardening - especially if it has a connecting door to your property.

• Make sure you have good lighting around your property

• Consider investing in a burglar alarm

• Secure the rear access to your home - A thief is less likely to be seen at the rear of your property

• Make sure any hedging at the front of your property is no higher than one meter. This will allow a passer-by or neighbours to see anyone acting suspiciously

• Mark all valuable items with a property marking system identifiable to you

• Take photographs of all jewellery including hallmarks and keep them safe. Don’t leave valuable jewellery in a box on your dressing table - it’s the first place a thief will look

• Make a list of the serial number of your electronic items and keep it safe

• Make sure you have up-to-date contents insurance

• Register all electronic items and any others with serial numbers at sites such as Immobilise.co.uk

• Join your local Neighbourhood Watch. If there isn't one, consider setting one up yourself.

Wiltshire Police Superintendent Gavin Williams said: “We really want people to enjoy themselves in the coming weeks, however its important to do so safely and we want to make people aware of how they can help prevent crime over the festive period.

“Making sure people follow simple steps so they don’t become a victim of crime will help to avoid an upsetting and stressful experience this Christmas.

"Criminals look out for presents in obvious places such as in cars and under Christmas trees so please keep them out of sight.”

It is important not to stop thinking about safety after Christmas day too.

Make sure you don’t put your rubbish out too early. Putting packing and boxes on display will advertise all the new items you have in your home providing thieves with a checklist of your equipment for them to steal.

Wiltshire Police have stepped up patrols in key areas within local towns, particularly during the evenings and weekends when alcohol is a major factor, working closely with partners to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

Superintendent Williams said: “It’s important that people enjoy the festive season safely. When you are out and about, ensure that you plan your journey home in advance, be aware of your valuables and drink responsibly.”

Throughout this week and up until the campaign ends, Neighbourhood Policing Teams will be giving out crime prevention advice and discussing any concerns in local communities.

Further information about crime prevention can be obtained from your local Neighbourhood Policing Team who can be contacted on 101 or via the website at; www.wiltshire.police.uk


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