As well as a time for giving, Xmas can also be a time for taking.
Thieves know that there are many easy targets, as people are distracted by the festivities and give little thought to their safety or that of their property.
Here is a list of some of the simple things that you can do to keep safe during the festive season. Nothing spoils the spirit of Xmas faster than being a victim of crime!
Considerable Crime Prevention advice on issues such as Home and Vehicle Security has been issued previously; however, this is a seasonal extra.
Xmas Markets and Shopping
Xmas Markets are perfect targets for thieves, as they are crowded, and people are usually under the influence of alcohol.
Planning the Trip
- It’s always best to go to the Xmas markets with at least one other person – safety in numbers.
- Wear a coat with inner pockets that can be fastened. Keep your mobile, keys, wallet or purse etc in these pockets and keep them fastened.
- Keep your mobile in a separate pocket from your wallet or purse, so that if it’s stolen you can still use your mobile to report the loss. Otherwise the thief may use your cards before you can cancel them.
- Limit the amount of cash you carry, or split it up into different pockets/bags to minimise any potential loss.
- Use debit or credit cards to avoid carrying cash, but keep them handy to avoid having the fumble around searching for them. Keep them in a safe place when not using them.
- Don’t keep your PIN with the cards. If you really can’t remember it, one option is to disguise it within the phone number of a made up contact on your mobile. For example: for a PIN of 5724, the phone number may read 0521 1357 2468. This can be done any way you prefer, as long as you can remember which 4 numbers are your PIN.
- Keep a record with you of your card numbers and the emergency telephone numbers of your bank for reporting lost or stolen cards. That allows you to immediately report their loss.
- Don’t openly wear expensive jewellery or watches in crowded places: they are a likely target for robbery or theft.
- If taking your children with you, make sure they know what to do if they become separated from you. Arrange a safe and easily recognisable meeting point where they should go if they become lost.
- Take care at cashpoints: Always shield your PIN from view when typing it in.
- Be wary of people hanging around a cashpoint for no apparent purpose – if unsure, go to another cashpoint.
- Consider making purchases of expensive items last, so you can head straight to the car with them.
- Consider using public transport rather than taking your car. That way you can have a drink if you wish, and parking won’t be a problem.
- If you do take your car, always park in a place which will be well lit, and with lots of people about, in case you return to the car after dark.
- Never leave anything valuable on view in the car; not even any coins for parking fees.
- Keep any valuables and your shopping out of sight in the boot. If your car doesn’t have a boot, use the sliding cover on the cargo area to hide the items.
- Always fully secure the car, and set the alarm.
- Don’t hide a spare key under the wheel arch – thieves will always look there.
- Don’t leave valuables in the glove compartment, and leave it open to show that there’s nothing worth stealing: otherwise a thief may break in just on the off chance.
- Have your keys ready in your hand when you get back to the car: don’t stand by it fumbling for them in your bag or pockets.
- Be wary of people hanging around the payment machines in multi-storey car parks. If you feel unsure wait until they have left.
The previous advice on this subject can be read in the Vehicle Security article on BFGnet at https://bfgnet.de/crime-prevention/vehicle-security.html
Handbags / Wallets / Purses
- If using a handbag, keep it fastened and close to your body, with the catch towards your body. This makes it more difficult for the thief.
- Consider using a money belt or ‘bum bag’ instead of a handbag. If you do, wear it with the pouch/bag at the front, not behind you.
- Be wary if someone jostles you – immediately check if you have been the victim of a pickpocket. If you have, call the police immediately (see below for telephone numbers), giving the best possible description of any suspect (if there is one).
- If out with another person, carry your bag on the side nearest them so it’s between you. This reduces any opportunity for a thief.
- For safety reasons, if carrying a handbag, hang it over your shoulder, NOT round your neck: it’s better to have the bag stolen than be seriously injured.
- Never carry your wallet or purse in a rear trouser pocket, or the outer pocket of your jacket: these are too easy for pickpockets to reach.
- Don’t leave your handbag unattended on a shopping trolley, and don’t leave it in the car when returning your trolley.
Home Security and Property Marking
The previous advice on these subjects can be read in the Home Security and Property Marking articles on BFG net.
At this time of year; however, there are a few extra points to consider to avoid giving a burglar a likely target.
- DO NOT put on any form of Social Media that you will be away from your home for Xmas/New Year.
- Don’t leave presents under the tree if they can be seen from outside the house.
- Don’t leave the empty boxes from the presents on display outside; especially from expensive electrical items. They advertise the fact that there are tempting targets in the house. If you don’t intend to keep them, put the boxes in the cellar or garage out of sight whilst awaiting disposal.
- Don’t leave large amounts of cash in the home.
Preventing crime is everyone’s business
Reporting Crime or Suspicious Activity
Due to the distance between some locations in BFG and the one remaining Military Police Station in Sennelager, the response time for an RMP patrol can be too long in the case of an emergency. Therefore, unless you live in the Sennelager/Paderborn area, emergency calls should always be made to the GCP (emergency telephone number - 110).
A follow up call should also be made to the RMP to make sure that a record is kept by them of all incidents.
If you are unable to make contact with the GCP due to language problems, then call the RMP emergency number (05254 982 2222 / Sennelager Mil 2222). The duty RMP interpreter will contact GCP on the your behalf.
Reporting Suspicious Activity
You should ALWAYS report anything suspicious to the police, no matter how trivial it may seem. It’s much better to report something that turns out to be harmless, than not bother to report something that turns out to be important.
Finally, have a great crime free Xmas and New Year!