Norfolk police launch #SaferChristmas campaign

Police have been called to an accident in Southampton Road
Police have been called to an accident in Southampton Road

With Christmas now almost upon us, Norfolk 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.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Dave Marshall said: “At this time of year, thieves will often take advantage of busy areas where they know people are shopping and so we do tend to see an increase in reports of personal theft, particularly of purses and wallets. Often distraction tactics are used – bumping into you, dipping into your bag underneath the cover of a coat, or brazenly cutting the straps of your bag.

“We have increased patrols in hotspot areas this month in the lead up to the festive period, but we would also encourage shoppers to be alert of any suspicious activity and mindful when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Don’t give thieves an early Christmas present at your expense.”

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

Supt Marshall continues: “Online shopping is increasingly popular and so we are aware that more fraudsters are taking to promoting fake discount deals, often on social media, to scam people. I could urge people to exercise caution – if something seems too much of a bargain, there is always the possibility that it is counterfeit, or simply doesn’t exist. Always use official websites of online retailers and brands you know and trust, and never transfer money directly to someone’s bank account if you don’t know them.”

Norfolk Police works closely with Norfolk 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: https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/scams/consumer-alerts.

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.

Supt Marshall concludes: “No property is completely immune from the threat of burglary, but there are safety measures you can follow to make it more difficult for a would-be burglar to spoil your Christmas. Most burglaries are opportunistic, so the first lines of defence are to ensure you have strong, secure doors and windows; avoid openly displaying Christmas gifts and keep a light on to make it look like someone’s home.

“With this campaign we hope to give people a proactive insight into the potential risks that can ruin the festive season, and to encourage people to be more aware of crime prevention.”

An A-Z list of crime prevention advice is available on the Norfolk Police website: https://www.norfolk.police.uk/advice/crime-prevention-z.

If you believe a crime is in progress, call police immediately on 999.

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.