Safety in Neighbours: Looking out for one another

During the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic, you may have seen more of your neighbours (from a safe distance of course!) than you did your own family. Clapping from your doorsteps and soaking in the view of another real-life human.

As time charges on and ‘normal’ daily life resumes, it’s important not to lose those neighbourly connections. Having a strong, close community gives us a sense of belonging. Everyone can also benefit from the added security that comes from living in a close community.

Letting your trusted neighbour(s) know when you’re away.

Leave a spare key with them so that they can check on the property and take in any post or deliveries. They may also be able to park their car on your drive while you’re away.

Set up a community Facebook page or WhatsApp group.

They’re great for sharing information about suspicious or anti-social behaviour, with the added benefit of getting to know your neighbours better.

Suspicious behaviour to watch out for might include:

  • Strange vehicles parked up for a lengthy period, returning regularly or travelling slowly up and down your road
  • Strangers lingering in the neighbourhood
  • Unknown markings on or near properties; they could be coded markings that burglars use to communicate with each other.

Organise deterrents.

Window stickers and signage warning that your property is protected by CCTV, an alarm system, or even a dog, can help to deter thieves. You could also put up stickers or signs to show that you have marked and registered your belongings, making them more difficult to sell on and therefore less attractive to thieves.

You can mark your valuables by adding your postcode, phone number or any other number that’s meaningful to you. Various marking and labelling methods are available, but any mark will help. Keep a record of your belongings, making a note of any serial numbers or unique marks. Take photographs and consider sending them to a friend or relative so there is another copy, or record your items securely on the Immobilise National Property Register. Such registration not only helps Police return your property but may also prevent criminals from easily selling it.

You could club together with your neighbours to buy signage or share a property marking kit to help protect your belongings. If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours who aren’t able to register their own items, you could help them to do it.

Join the local Neighbourhood Watch.

You can search the Neighbourhood Watch website to locate your nearest group, or start your own. Becoming a member gives you access to a whole host of crime prevention tips, ready-made campaigns and toolkits.

Discuss security measures with your neighbours and if someone isn’t able to organise signage or fit a security light, offer to do it for them.

Do your bit.

The most important thing you can do is look out for one another. If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, those chats over the hedge, or offers of help – however small – become even more important. Discuss security measures with your neighbours and if someone isn’t able to organise signage or fit a security light, offer to do it for them.

‘Make Your Mark’ campaign launched by Essex Police

Items registered (for free) on the Immobilise database are then visible to over 40,000 police officers who can check for matching records when they recover lost or potentially stolen goods.

The team at Recipero work closely with police forces up and down the country to help publicise the benefits of marking your property.

In Essex, burglaries have fallen by half in the last three years, but their police force are always looking at ways to help prevent and reduce the risk of crime even further. We were therefore delighted to help them launch their ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign.

There are simple things we can all do to make our homes and businesses even safer. Property marking deters thieves, can aid in prosecutions and help with any ownership disputes.

We would recommend marking any item that is of value to you either financially or sentimentally.

– Chief Superintendent Leighton Hammett
(Essex Police Force Lead for Crime Prevention)

For more information on how property marking works, the different methods you can use, the recommended items to mark and how to register them for free on Immobilise, visit www.essex.police.uk/MakeYourMark

The Power of Immobilise

National Home Security Month takes place throughout October each year and we’re very proud to once again be supporting the campaign.

We also thought it was a great opportunity to crunch some numbers and look more closely at the impact of Immobilise and our wider Crime Reduction Ecosystem.

A big thank you to our 24 million + users, for registering over 35 million items so far on the UK’s national property register. It helps police to identify the rightful owners of recovered property, combats the sale of stolen valuables and simplifies insurance claims and police reports.

1 in 5 Students fall victim to property crime

It may surprise you that according to the National Union of Students, as many as one in five students fall victim to property crime whilst at college or university. 

Thieves know that student residences are full of expensive gear; laptops, tablets, phones, bikes and cameras provide rich pickings. In fact, the average break-in costs £900 to repair the damage and replace belongings.

A lot of theft is opportunistic – a few simple steps can be enough to make thieves think twice and move on. 

  • When you go out, make sure all windows and doors are locked. It’s an obvious one but double-check!
  • Check windows for vulnerabilities. Make sure they’re robust, secure and fitted with locks. If they’re not, speak to your landlord or letting agent. 
  • Don’t advertise your valuables to thieves. Ensure your valuables are not visible through windows. 
  • Register your possessions at Immobilise.com. It’s FREE and provides the simplest way to return your property if found after loss or theft. 
  • Keep your gate shut and bolted at all times. Ensure bins don’t make it easy for burglars to climb over walls or fences. 
  • Simulate occupancy with light timers or products like a FakeTV. 
  • Get insurance. It is tempting to save money, but it’s a false economy. Make sure it covers all your stuff. 
  • Bikes should be kept in the school’s designated areas and secured with a D-lock to an immovable object such as a ground-mounted loop. Don’t forget to register the bike at Immobilise.com

Registering your property at Immobilise.com is FREE. You can register property irrespective of any 3rd party labelling used; it’s all accepted!

For 20% off all Immobilise marking products, including TV Simulators and Bike Security Tags at shop.immobilise.com, use code BACKTOSCHOOL22 at the checkout. Discount valid until 31st October 2022.

Beware of ‘Geeks’ Bearing Gifts – A New Type of Fraud

By Les Gray, COO of Recipero

Ok, so not everyone looking to part with valuable used consumer electronics is a ‘Geek’.  The proverb shamelessly mangled for this post’s title does neatly sum up a note of caution though – not everyone trying to sell you an item is acting honestly.

Mobile phones are undergoing a massive increase in fraudulent sales, reflecting a wide-ranging change in the marketplace for how phones reach consumers. Many companies are now providing new or refurbished phones on rental agreements. These are attractive propositions, enabling the consumer to obtain a cheaper handset for a lower monthly cost than the traditional network-subsidised model and the ability to upgrade or cancel almost at will.

The problem for traders with this market shift is the number of phones being fraudulently sold or offered as collateral for pawn or buy-back transactions is increasing rapidly.

The seller of such devices does not have legal title, so the trader cannot acquire legal title. The trader’s perceived security in the device is worthless.

Many traders check whether a phone is blocked on mobile networks. This check identifies a small subset of stolen phones reported to the networks. However, it amounts to shutting their eyes to the presence of loss and theft reports from police, insurers, the public and corporate owners.

Only CheckMEND has access to Recipero’s Crime Reduction Ecosystem, a massive collection of devices (not just phones) that are stolen or will become so if sold. Millions of devices are rightfully in possession of consumers but not owned by them, and they have no right to sell. The shift in market conditions has recently grown this class of phones by 10% month-on-month during 2022 and is accelerating, widening the already significant gap between network-blocked phones and stolen phones.

An analysis of 30,000 phones from one recent month’s trade, found over 1,000 stolen items valued at almost £200,000. Not a single phone was network blocked when offered for sale. Pawn or buy-back transactions may feel more secure as the customer often redeems the phone. However, 40% become blocked up to eight weeks after the transaction; plenty of time for the careless trader to resell the phone, only to have a disgruntled customer return when it stops working. Perhaps worse, that customer tries to sell their phone only to fail because of the stolen record—double trouble and cost for the unfortunate trader.  

CheckMEND is the only due diligence system compliant with the UK Recycler’s Code of Best Practice, and the above should clarify why. The world’s biggest companies that create markets for mobile phones trust us to track their property and detect and prevent its theft. Their trust in us is why CheckMEND’s due diligence service is both unrivalled and growing at an increasing rate.

Are you buying phones without running CheckMEND checks? Are you confident that you are doing enough? Contact us for a free, no-obligation analysis of historical transactions. Every stolen phone we identify that you’ve missed will have the corresponding information provided so you can take action on it to reduce the risk you’ve previously assumed.

Remember, network block checking is not the same as avoiding buying stolen property.

10 Tips to Keep Your Home Secure While You’re Away

1. Lock all of your doors, not just the front! Including (if applicable) your garage door, side gate and shed, all of which can sometimes be overlooked.

2. Ensure all of your windows are secure. Be aware that some windows have winter and summer settings; the summer setting can be more vulnerable to tools such as crowbars. You can check for yourself by placing a piece of paper behind the seal, closing the window and pulling at the paper. If it’s difficult to remove and perhaps tears, the window is in winter mode. If it slides out gently, it’s in summer mode. There should be a screw mechanism on the side of the window that you can use an Allen key to adjust.

3. If you have a CCTV system or house alarm, test them to ensure they’re working properly. These are a great deterrent and could play a significant part in catching out any thieves. False alarms and cameras can also be bought to make burglars think twice.

4. Use automatic timers on lights, or other technology such as our TV Sim to make the house seem more lived-in from outside.

5. Ask trusted neighbours to check in or help out, collecting post or parking their car on the driveway every so often. If they’re very kind, they might also water your garden for you!

6. Don’t hide your spare key under your mat; use a key safe.

7. Ensure valuables are out of view from the windows.

8. Register your valuables on Immobilise – it helps police to identify the owners of recovered property, increasing your chances of your belongings being returned to you. It also simplifies insurance claims and police reports, with certificates of ownership available via your account.

9. Cancel all of your regular deliveries.

10. Don’t advertise your holiday on social media, as tempting as it may be!

How to Protect Your Luggage

Over the years, a number of solutions have been developed to help people keep their luggage safe while travelling. Many people use padlocks or combination locks and some choose to have their suitcases wrapped at the airport if they’re flying, but there are other things you can do to help protect your precious cargo.

1. Keep your belongings as close to you as you can, especially in busy places. If you’re carrying a backpack or shoulder bag, bring it round to your front where you can keep a closer eye on it.

2. Consider using luggage that is bright or bold in some way (or securely attach a bright ribbon to an otherwise plain case), making it easier for you to spot it on the carousel.

3. You can register your luggage items on Immobilise.com to help increase your chances of being reunited with them if they’re lost or stolen. This can be as simple as adding your name, address and a code to your luggage tag and using those details to register it. If items are visibly marked by a wraparound label, or asset labels though, it also helps to deter thieves.

4. Take photos of the contents of your bags – this could help with an insurance claim if anything does happen to your luggage. If there are individual items that you’re registering on Immobilise (jewellery, watches, portable games consoles, for example) you can also add photos of them to the Immobilise database at the same time, alongside a description.

5. Alternatively, the ImmobiTag is a tiny security chip (just 11mm long!) that can help to protect pretty much anything. It’s a covert device that could be glued inside your case, giving it a unique identifier that could be registered on Immobilise. A warning label is also provided to make it clear to any potential thief that your luggage is protected in this way.

6. Purchase travel insurance, ensuring that theft is included on your policy. It won’t prevent you from being a victim of theft while travelling, but it will give you peace of mind that you could replace your belongings if the worst was to happen.

7. Finally, it’s worth packing a spare outfit or two in your carry-on luggage if you’re flying, just in case there’s a delay in being reunited with the rest of your luggage. Even if you’re going somewhere lovely and warm, pack a jumper for the chilly airport terminal!

Consider separating your sources of cash too, rather than keeping it all in one bag or wallet.

CheckMEND’s New Look

We thought it was about time CheckMEND had a revamp – we really like it and hope you do too!

The Recipero team have been working away on the new look behind the scenes for the last few months. The CheckMEND service remains the same as users are familiar with, while the design of the report has been simplified to make it easier to understand.

New users can claim a free device check report by registering an account, perfect for instances where someone is planning on buying a second-hand piece of tech and the seller doesn’t already have a CheckMEND certificate.

We’re also really interested to hear about existing users’ past experiences with CheckMEND and have a survey open to all users, to help us to improve the service we offer.

Users who complete the 2-minute survey will be given 25% off checks until Friday 29th August 2022.

Top 5 Holiday Items to Register on Immobilise

Tourists can be a lucrative target for criminals, particularly in the case of theft. When travelling, you’re more likely to be distracted by your new and unfamiliar environment and carry a lot of valuable personal belongings and possibly cash.

We’ve listed our top 5 items that you should register on immobilise.com before setting off on holiday. It only takes a minute, it’s completely free of charge, and it increases the chance of your items being returned to you if they’re lost or stolen. Having a certificate of registration also helps to prove you are the owner of the item, and it can help simplify any insurance claim you might need to make.

1. Mobile Phone

The only thing you need to hand to register your mobile phone is the IMEI number. You can find this by dialling *#06#. You can add any other unique identifiers you might have, but this is the best one to use. Easy peasy!

Top Tip: Add your phone’s serial number as another identifier. This can easily be found in the phone’s settings or on the packaging.

2. Camera / GoPro

You often find that these have a serial number; it might be found on the item’s packaging or in its manual or documentation. If you can’t find one though, don’t worry. You can use any unique identifier to register an item – you could use a UV pen, or a product marking kit, or you can order asset labels from the Immobilise online shop. These have the added benefit of being a visible deterrent to thieves, and giving honest members of the public a way of reporting your item as found, should you lose it. There are no personal details on the asset labels, but it will ensure we can get your item back to you.

3. Tablets, Headphones & Handheld Games Consoles

Just like cameras and GoPros, any type of tech can easily be registered with a unique identifier. You’ll either be able to find a serial code or add an identifier yourself using a UV pen, asset label or product marking kit. You can buy all of these solutions from the Immobilise shop or use any third-party product to mark your belongings.

Another thing to consider with your tablet is whether there’s in-built tracking you can set up and use, such as the ‘Find My’ app offered by Apple and Android.

4. Keys

To give your keys a better chance of finding their way back to you if you misplace them, we’ve created the ImmobiKey. The fob gives your keys a unique identifier (enabling them to be registered on the Immobilise database) and provides instructions to both the police and the public on what to do, should your keys be found.

5. Watches & Jewellery

Some watches will have a serial number, so it’s worth checking for one on the piece itself and any accompanying paperwork. Alternatively, an engraving on a watch or piece of jewellery makes for a perfect identifier to register it with, as long as it’s unique. Any other third-party product marks can be used otherwise. Immobilise also gives you the option to upload photos, receipts and certifications when you register your items.

View our helpful step by step guides on how to register the following items:
Mobile Phone
Keys
Watches
Laptops/Tablets/Computers

To log in and register an item or create a FREE account, please visit:
www.immobilise.com

5 Items to Register in Your Shed/Garage

Immobilise isn’t just for mobile phones and gadgets – anything with a unique identifier can be registered (for free!) on the Immobilise database.

The items hidden away in your garage or shed often get overlooked, but you can protect them too, taking steps to make it easier for you to be reunited in the worst-case scenario of your belongings being stolen.

If you label your items, it could even act as a deterrent to thieves, as it makes them harder to sell on and less desirable.

#1 Bikes

Claims for bike thefts between January and April this year were up by 126% compared to the same period in 2021

– Urban Jungle

You can register your bike with the frame serial number, an RFID tag (ImmobiBike or ImmobiTag), coded microdot, forensic liquid, chemical etching or any other third party product marks you can find.

#2 Power Tools

42% of outbuilding thefts resulted in tools being stolen

– Confused.com, 2021

Power tools are likely to be targeted by thieves. They can be registered with the serial number, an asset label, UV pen marking, forensic liquid, coded microdot, or any other third party product marks you can find.

#3 Lawnmowers

Thefts from gardens shoot up by over 25% when the clocks go forward

– Aviva Claims Statistics, 2002 – 2011

If your lawnmower or strimmer doesn’t already have a unique identifier such as a serial number, you can use an Immobilise marking kit – or any third party property marking tool – to give it an identifier and then register it for free on Immobilise.

#4 Leisure Equipment

Golf club theft is estimated at £10 million every year

– The Professional Golfers Club Association (PGA)

The demand for home gym and leisure equipment has gone through the roof over the last couple of years.  People are keeping tents, skis, snowboards, kayaks, skateboards, paddleboards and golf clubs (etc, etc!) in sheds and garages.

Anything with a unique identifier can be registered on Immobilise and if your item doesn’t already have an identifier, you can use a property marking kit.

#5 Outdoor Furniture

The outdoor furniture market in the UK amounts to £1.26 billion this year

– Statista.com

If you’re protecting your outdoor furniture from the elements by keeping it in the shed, you can also try to protect it from theft. If your furniture doesn’t have a unique identifier such as a serial number, you can use an Immobilise marking kit – or any third party property marking tool – to give it an identifier and then register it for free on Immobilise.