10 crime prevention tips for the festive season

Whilst most see the festive period as a time for goodwill to all men, unfortunately – as anyone who has watched ‘Home Alone’ will know – thieves don’t take annual leave. In fact, long winter nights, festive distractions and busier social calendars can offer burglars more opportunities than any other time of year.

Luckily, there are lots of precautions you can take, without going to the same lengths as Kevin McCallister.

1. Light up your entrances

Twinkling fairy lights don’t need to be just for decoration! Any form of outdoor lighting – from a motion sensor security light to dressed-up evergreens – can help protect your home by lighting up the exterior and removing the cover of darkness that thieves love. It makes approaching your home too conspicuous for a burglar.

However, many enthusiastic festive house dressers’ common mistake is feeding extension cables through partially open windows; criminals know to look for this vulnerability. When it comes to outdoor lighting, if you don’t have an external plug outlet, opt for solar or battery-operated lights instead.

Light up your entrances.

2. Be strategic with your recycling

Bin collections over the Christmas and New Year period are normally at different times. If you can’t take packaging to a recycling centre, make sure you only put your rubbish out just before the collection and do your best to fold boxes inside-out so that they don’t advertise any new contents of your home to thieves.

Be strategic with your recycling.

3. Don’t advertise your plans

For thieves, social media can be used to scout potential targets. If you usually publish your whereabouts during the holiday season – including any plans to be away from home – do think twice before posting this year, as you could be giving a potential burglar knowledge of when your house is going to be empty. Uploaded photos of pricey Christmas gifts can also be a problem. It’s always worth double-checking your privacy settings on social channels and, where possible, keeping your profile private.

Don’t advertise your plans.

4. Check doors and windows for weak spots 

The Office for National Statistics reported in 2020 that windows were used to gain access in 30% of burglaries, so installing a few deadbolts and new window hinges could increase the security of your home. 1 in 7 burglars also walked straight through an unlocked door; where possible, it’s worth keeping your doors locked even when you’re at home.

Check doors and windows for weak spots.

5. Keep your curtains and blinds closed at night

If you’re going out for the evening, you could use a plug timer on your lights to give the illusion of someone being at home or go one step further and invest in a Fake TV device.

You should also always ensure valuable items are out of sight.

Keep your curtains and blinds closed at night.

6. Deterring would-be criminals is one of the most effective forms of crime prevention

Using window stickers to highlight the fact that your possessions are security marked and registered on Immobilise is a savvy move. It warns thieves that your goods are traceable and not worth the risk of stealing. If you have a security camera, a dog or are a member of a Neighbourhood Watch area, these are also good things to advertise to any unwelcome visitors!

Deterring would-be criminals is one of the most effective forms of crime prevention.

7. Away over Christmas? Plan ahead! 

Be sure to cancel any deliveries. Arrange for a trusted neighbour to park on the driveway to help create the impression someone is at home. As mentioned above, make use of light timers and devices like Fake TVs.

Away over Christmas? Plan ahead!

8. Secure garages and sheds 

Make sure that garden tools or ladders are not left lying around or accessible from an unlocked garden shed; they could be used to force entry into your home. Garages are often targets for burglars looking for tools, bikes and gardening equipment – if you have a garage, make sure it is locked and items such as bikes or tools are secured. Make sure that anything portable or valuable is recorded on Immobilise.

Secure garages and sheds.

9. Don’t hide keys, and use alarms if you have them

Burglars know all of the best hiding places for spare keys, so don’t put them under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead, give the spare key to family or a trusted neighbour. Many houses now have alarms; make sure yours is on and protecting your home when you are away or out for the evening, where possible.

Don’t hide keys, and use alarms if you have them.

10. And lastly, don’t forget to protect your gifts on Immobilise.com! 

Most electricals have a unique code, such as a serial number which can be used to register the item. Mobile phones have an IMEI number, which can be easily found by dialling *#06#.

If your gift doesn’t have a unique identifier, there are several affordable marking kits available from the Immobilise store allowing the police to easily identify the owners of items they recover.

Don’t forget to protect your gifts on Immobilise.com.

Loss Prevention: How to stop your assets from going ‘walkabout’

It’s not yet known if and how the cost of living crisis in the UK will affect crime rates generally. There has understandably been plenty of speculation though; ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’.

There was a 21% increase in shoplifting between March 2021 and March 2022 (Usdaw, July 2022). Employee theft has been steadily dropping since peaking in 2003, but there were still 5,638 offences reported throughout England and Wales in 2021/22 (Statista.com, July 2022).

Now is certainly not the time to be lax in the security of your company’s assets, particularly those that are more prone to go ‘walkabout’ such as mobile phones, laptops and other portable tech. These have always been lucrative items to thieves, fraudsters and even dishonest employees; they’re high value, they can be turned around for cash easily and the theft can potentially go unnoticed for a long period of time, making it harder for any action to be taken.

They say crime doesn’t pay, but there is a booming second-hand marketplace that could quite easily convince someone otherwise, particularly if they’re facing difficulty in paying their bills or keeping enough food in the fridge to stop their family from going hungry.

Protecting Your Assets: The Essentials

  • Keeping stock records up to date
  • Keeping stock away from easy exit routes
  • Using secure, lockable cabinets or rooms for high-value stock; ensuring good key and/or access code practices
  • Consider using mirrors and CCTV systems
  • Limiting the number of people who have access to valuable stock
  • Training staff to be vigilant for suspicious behaviours that might point to theft – and how to take appropriate action
  • Carefully selecting reputable shipping companies or couriers
  • Be thorough in pre-employment checks and create a positive work environment, with an honest culture
  • Check in with employees regularly; inform them of resources they can reach out to for help if they face any difficulty, including financial strain
  • Provide a way for employees to report theft or fraud

How to Protect Your Devices When You Can’t See Them: Introducing AssetWatch

Even when you have all of the measures above in place, there is often a problematic point at which you lose sight of an asset owned by your company. This could be:

  • When a device is rented or leased;
  • When a device is on loan to a staff member, such as a company phone;
  • When a device is physically moved, perhaps from a warehouse to a distribution centre, or sent out in the post to a customer;
  • Or perhaps just when a device – despite all of your company’s careful measures – goes missing from a stockroom or warehouse and falls off the radar.

At any of these points, a device could be easily stolen and very quickly re-sold. It could take days, weeks or months before it is noticed, depending on the situation.

Unless of course, you have a way of monitoring these assets regardless of where they are and an alert system in place to notify you if they are offered for trade without consent.

Preventing the sale of the stolen property already takes around £350m per year out of the criminal economy and this is expected to be as much as £500m by December 2023.

– Les Gray, COO, Recipero Ltd

This is where AssetWatch comes in; a unique, simple and effective service, used by some of the world’s largest manufacturers, distributors and retailers, along with finance companies, rental operations and any businesses with laptops and phones provided to employees or used outside of a regular office.

We help a broad scope of companies across many sectors to quickly detect the unauthorised selling of company assets, so that they can take action against:

  • Retail stock leakage
  • Devices sold by employees who claim “loss” or “theft”
  • Goods lost in transit
  • Theft from warehouses and distribution centres
  • Devices sold when subject to outstanding finance
  • Devices sold when subject to contractual terms

The use of AssetWatch can also help to reduce theft by acting as a deterrent. We provide each of our data partners with a checkmark, serving as a warning that their assets are being monitored and are readily identifiable to police.

How it Works: The Key is in the Serial Number

AssetWatch is a tool which will monitor devices from the point of acquisition right up until they reach their intended recipient, or until the company sells or disposes of them. To do this, it relies on device data held within Recipero’s unique and comprehensive ‘crime reduction ecosystem‘.

Using the serial number or IMEI of a device as the central way of identifying it, AssetWatch can link activity by police, insurers, second-hand traders, pawnshops and individual consumers buying from auction and classified sites. When you provide us with a list of products you have told us you own, we can monitor them via the serial number and match any activity in the ecosystem to it. We can then alert you when someone attempts to trade an item.

In addition to this, we also return a ‘red flag’ result to the trader who is considering buying the item. They will then reject the device, the sale will fall through and the thief cannot profit from their crime. The easy route for profit – and potentially even the incentive to steal again – is removed.

It is a simple concept but it only works as a solution because of Recipero’s unique footprint of traders across the globe.

No personal information is required at all; we just need you to regularly provide us with the serial numbers of items you have taken ownership of and those that you have sold or disposed of, so we always have an up-to-date record of your company assets.

Benefits of Use: The Bigger Picture

To summarise all of the above, AssetWatch can:

  1. Deliver a pro-active alert when there is an authorised attempt to trade a device your company owns or finances
  2. Warn traders against buying stolen devices, flagging at the point of pre-sale checks that the item is being monitored by AssetWatch and should not be offered for sale without authorisation
  3. Monitor devices until they reach their intended recipient and also make sure any devices reported ‘lost’ are visible to the police, increasing the chance of their return
  4. Act as a deterrent to would-be thieves and in doing so, offers a return on your investment
  5. Help you to build up a picture of your customer or employee base, and spot patterns of activity

There is slightly more to it than this though; by using AssetWatch and becoming one of our data partners, you’re helping us with the bigger picture.

At Recipero, we work closely with police forces, the general public and industry professionals to fight theft and fraud; it is what our ever-growing ‘crime reduction ecosystem‘ exists for. Every serial number inputted into that ecosystem becomes a piece of the much larger puzzle. Every partnership we forge helps us to stamp out fraud and deny thieves of a marketplace for their stolen goods. So, benefit number 6 is that AssetWatch can:

6. Help you to become a crime-fighter!

Case Study: Mobile Device Rental Company

As the core concept for AssetWatch is quite simple – the matching of a serial number record to lots of other data streams – it can be of benefit to a whole host of circumstances and industries. In the past, we have mainly helped businesses to monitor mobile phones, but the service can be stretched and applied to any item with a serial number.

Over the last 10 months, for just one rental company, we tracked 60,000 devices and have stopped over 2,000 of them being illegally sold on through UK high street and online traders.

The devices concerned have a used value of over £1m and a new value of over £1.5m. Knowledge of the attempts to trade have given the business a chance to identify accounts prone to default well ahead of actual default and take steps to mitigate the risk.

AssetWatch devices such as those on rental agreements number in the hundreds of thousands already. This is a rapidly expanding market with millions of devices expected to be monitored by the end of 2023.

– Mark Fowler, Head of Commercial Solutions, Recipero Ltd.

Looking at another sector – this time, telecoms – we worked with a large retailer to detect thousands of new shop-stock items being offered to second-hand traders, sometimes on the same high street! The evidence provided has been instrumental in identifying employee dishonesty and stock control process deficiencies.

Next Steps: Proof of Concept

To summarise, AssetWatch helps you to go above and beyond best practice in loss prevention, by:

  • Monitoring stock/assets in real-time and even when in transit;
  • Alerting you to activity when someone attempts to trade them;
  • Preventing the trade by warning the retailer that the item is registered with AssetWatch;
  • Building up a picture of activity across your customer and employee base;
  • Acting as a deterrent to thieves when they realise items that would otherwise be relatively easy and profitable to steal, are being actively monitored and will be difficult to sell on.

Contact Us

If you feel your company could benefit from tracking and protecting its valuable assets, you can take the first step by emailing info@recipero.com to register your interest. We’ll get back to you with a very simple template for you to fill in, so that we can provide you with a free, no-obligation proof of concept.

Enquiries: info@recipero.com

UK Office: +44 (0) 333 880 6658

US Office: (+1) 888 551 1159

Visit our AssetWatch solution page to learn more.