Theft of personal belongings
Robbery is more likely to take place in quiet or dark areas, and pickpocketing is more likely where it is busy. However, thieves also work near train stations and bus stops, where people are likely to get their mobile phones out. If possible, wait until you get to work or home to make a call or send a text message. Be extra careful:
- at train stations
- at cash machines
- in car parks
- getting on and off buses
- in overcrowded areas, especially during rush hour
You hear about people having their bag snatched or their mobile phone stolen. In fact, the chances of it happening to you or your family are low and there are plenty of things you can do to make it even less likely.
Keep safe on the move
What you can do:
- Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards. Keep it zipped up, and make sure your wallet or purse can't be seen. Don't carry large amounts of cash.
- Spread your possessions about - for example, keep your mobile phone separate from your purse, and your keys separate from your credit card.
- Cover up any expensive jewellery and, if you must carry other valuables, be discreet. Don't use headphones while walking or talk on your mobile, - stay alert! Your MP3 player is music to a thief's ears. Wearing headphones (for a CD or MP3 player) or carrying a laptop all show thieves you have things worth taking.
- Have your house keys ready so you can get in the front door quickly - and carry them on you, not in your bag.
- If you are in a wheelchair, on a bike or pushing a pram, keep your bags where you can see them.
- Think about your route, especially if you're going to be on your own or carrying lots of shopping bags.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
Your credit cards
Follow this anti-theft advice:
- Keep your cards separate from your chequebooks.
- Never let them out of your sight or pass on your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
- Don't leave them behind the bar or counter. Staff could copy your details.
ATMs (cash machines)
If you need to use cash machines, do so during the day and use machines inside banks if you can. If not, choose ones on a busy street with good lighting.
Cover the keyboard with your free hand so that no-one can see the number you enter. If someone starts distracting you or stands close by, cancel the transaction and walk away. If you have withdrawn any cash, put it away immediately.
If your credit cards are stolen, call your bank or credit card company to cancel them immediately. Don't even wait until you get home. You should find a 24-hour emergency number on your statement and on some cash machines.
Your mobile telephone
If your mobile phone is stolen, it's bad enough that it's expensive to replace. There's also the hassle of losing all those stored numbers, messages, pictures and downloads. So how can you protect your phone?
- Don't leave your phone on tables in pubs or restaurants and try not to use it in a crowded place.
- Avoid using your phone near a tube or train station or when getting on or off the bus. Wait until you are further away from the stop or station.
- If you need to make a call in public, make it brief and keep an eye out for those around you. Remember, if you're chatting you're less likely to be aware of what's going on around you.
- Don't walk while you're sending text messages.
- Always ask yourself, "Is it safe to answer my phone right now?"
- Register your phone with your network operator. This means they can block calls if your phone is stolen so the thief can't use it. You can also register your mobile equipment on 'MEND' at http://www.menduk.org/ (MEND, or Mobile Equipment National Database, is a police-approved programme for registering mobile phones and other mobile IT equipment.)
- Record your registration number (also known as the IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity number) and phone number. Keep these numbers separate and safe. You can find your IMEI number (a 15-digit serial number) by keying *#06# into most phones or by looking underneath the phone battery.
If your phone is stolen, report it to your network operator (or call 08701 123 123) and to the police. Your phone can be blocked, just like a stolen credit card. Once blocked, it cannot be used again.