Have you ever stumbled upon a valuable item like a ring, bicycle, or mobile phone while out and about? It can be an exciting discovery, but what should you do next? Understanding the legal course of action when you find something of value is essential to ensure you act responsibly and ethically. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the steps and legal guidelines to follow when you find valuables in the UK.
Step 1: Report the Find
If you find a licence or document with an individual’s address on it, post it back to them. If there is no address but an issuing authority, such as a passport or blue badge, mail it back to the source. For anything else, visit your local police website – they all have links for reporting found property these days. They will ask questions about the find and offer further guidance and next steps.
Step 2: If the police don’t require a report
In situations where the police do not require a report for the found item, your next step involves several important actions to identify the owner:
Check for Identification Labels: Look for any visible markings that could help identify the owner. This includes Immobilise labels, which may feature a QR code or a barcoded serial number, indicating registration on the Immobilise national property register. Additionally, be on the lookout for other third-party marks or labels that might signify registration with a different service.
Visit Immobilise Website: If an Immobilise label is present, visit immobilise.com/search and enter the item’s details. This can help reconnect the item with its rightful owner while keeping their personal information confidential. Through this system, your contact details can be passed on to the owner if they are found.
Make Reasonable Enquiries: Independently of label checks, make reasonable efforts to find the owner. This could include asking people nearby, in offices, or shops, and considering leaving a note with your details. If the item was found on private property, such as a shop, pub, or workplace, inform the owner of the land or building.
Step 3: Where neither of the above applies
If you have exhausted the above, the law becomes a little complicated. If you have posted a notice anywhere or asked on local social media groups, we suggest you wait 90 days. If you haven’t heard from anyone after this time, you could consider selling it. However, UK law states that if the rightful owner can prove it’s theirs, you are liable to them for the proceeds, less reasonable storage costs for up to 6 years after the sale. However, this is unlikely to be an issue, mainly since the police process captures higher-value property.
As the vibrant tapestry of autumnal foliage and the seasonal festivities step into the limelight, we also bid farewell to the extended daylight hours as the clocks retreat. Regrettably, these darker evenings often offer opportunities for would-be burglars. Statistics unveil a noticeable uptick in burglary incidents as autumn ushers in, with the recent analysis of home insurance claims drawing a connection to the changing time.
It’s somewhat surprising that many homeowners remain oblivious to the heightened risks that this season brings. A recent survey led by Yale, a renowned authority in home security and the originator of National Home Security Month, disclosed that 62% of Britons harbour no more significant concerns about their home’s security in winter than in summer.
The seasonal transition presents the ideal time to evaluate your home security to ensure the safety of your property during autumn and beyond.
Step 1: Enhance Outdoor security
When fortifying your home’s security, it is prudent to examine your outdoor spaces. Your residence’s exterior is the first defence against potential intruders, and its condition sends a clear message about your commitment to security.
Start by assessing the illumination near your home during the darker hours. Poorly lit exteriors offer malefactors the cover they seek, making it paramount to keep your home’s frontage well-illuminated and visible. Curiously, only 38% of Yale’s recent survey respondents reported using security lighting. Many homeowners could benefit from investing in outdoor motion sensor lighting or employing timers for indoor lighting to simulate occupancy during absence.
The gates enclosing your property represent another potential point of vulnerability for burglars. A neglected or corroded gate can signal lax security and easy access to your home. Ensuring the gate is in good condition is crucial, and fortifying it with high-quality padlocks from a reputable brand can provide an extra layer of security.
In addition to gate security, it is imperative to maintain sturdy fencing around your premises. Broken or missing fence panels can create chinks in your armour, so it’s advisable to replace or repair them for enhanced security.
Only 40% of respondents in Yale’s survey indicated using high fences to bolster home protection, which presents an opportunity for homeowners to enhance security.
A straightforward step to deter opportunistic criminals is securely storing tools and garden equipment. Housing these items in a garden shed or garage ensures they remain out of sight and out of reach. Investing in a cost-effective shed and garage alarm system can provide an added layer of protection.
Furthermore, the upkeep of well-groomed hedges, bushes, and shrubs can discourage burglars from using them for concealment. Pruning low-hanging branches and planting hawthorn bushes can create an additional barrier against potential intruders.
Step 2: Secure All Entry Points
Once you have fortified the exterior of your home, it is crucial to ensure that all locks around your property are in good working order. This includes door and window locks and padlocks on sheds and garages.
The front door is a common point of entry for opportunistic criminals, so it’s essential to have a robust cylinder lock. Consider opting for a 3 Star Cylinder, which offers the highest level of protection and displays its quality to potential intruders.
Additionally, regularly check the condition of window locks and ensure they remain locked, especially at night or when you leave your home.
Step 3: Safeguard Outbuildings
Beyond the security of windows and doors, prioritising the protection of garages, sheds, and outbuildings is equally vital. Ensuring these spaces are locked with high-quality padlocks represents a straightforward measure that safeguards valuable tools and equipment.
A recent survey uncovered that only 15% of respondents considered garage security a pressing concern. However, these areas often house valuable items, making it prudent to invest in their safeguarding.
Consider installing security cameras or a CCTV system to monitor your property and garden remotely for a more intelligent security solution. Modern smart security cameras offer convenient remote monitoring via smartphone apps, providing homeowners with peace of mind.
While only 20% of Brits currently use CCTV cameras in their gardens, these devices act as effective deterrents against opportunistic criminals, making them a good investment.
Step 4: Secure the Interior
Following the enhancement of security measures on the outside of your home and garden, it is imperative to secure the interior. A smart alarm system can be a superb addition to your home security setup. These alarms safeguard your home and can extend protection to your shed and other outbuildings. Smart alarms offer features such as mobile notifications when triggered and remote control via smartphone apps, enabling homeowners to monitor their property from virtually anywhere. Consider augmenting your security with indoor cameras for added peace of mind. These user-friendly devices facilitate remote monitoring of various rooms through smartphone apps, providing extra protection for your possessions and pets.
Step 5: Strengthen Community Bonds
While smart security systems are valuable, we can’t always be present to watch over our homes. Building solid relationships with your neighbours can be a valuable asset, as they are more likely to notice and report any suspicious activity in the neighbourhood.
In some cases, joining Neighbourhood Watch schemes in your local area can enhance collective security efforts, reduce crime rates, and monitor suspicious activity.
References: Churchill Home Insurance, 2021 A poll of 2000 UK Adults (Nationally Representative) run by OnePoll, commissioned by Yale UK, 2022
There’s a lot to love about selling on devices you no longer need. It’s better for the environment, it can boost your bank balance and you’re giving someone else the chance to get some enjoyment out of it, extending the lifetime of the device.
Selling your device privately – rather than trading it in or sending it to a recycler – could be a better option for you financially. There are plenty of second-hand marketplaces and auction sites available online for you to sell through. It might take a little bit more time though and it’s important to be savvy about who you’re selling to.
Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider when selling your device through an online marketplace.
1. Is the price right?
Your price needs to be competitive, without being so low that a buyer might question the legitimacy of the item. Take a look at other listings of the same model, in a similar condition, to see what a reasonable price might be. At this point, it’s also worth seeing how much a recycling site would offer you for the device, so you know whether it’s worth the extra time you’re putting in to sell the item instead.
2. Be a responsible seller
Remember that if you misrepresent the item, your buyer will be entitled to a full refund, so make sure you’re fair in your description of the item.
Does the phone switch on and work as it should?
Do the cameras and all of the buttons work?
Is the device still under warranty?
What physical condition is the item in – are there any scratches or cracks the buyer should be aware of?
What accessories are you including? Will you be selling it with the original charger, headphones etc?
Are the ports working, particularly the charging port?
How is the item’s battery health? (Not sure how to check? There are guides for both Apple and Android).
3. Who is your buyer?
Some online second-hand marketplaces have review systems in place so that users can rate their experience with a buyer/seller. Check your buyer’s ratings or reviews.
When it comes to payment, it would be best if your buyer paid via the marketplace’s official app, or PayPal (Goods and Services, not Family and Friends).
Also, as a side note to this, always stick to the selling platform for your messaging – don’t give out your phone number and don’t switch to texts or WhatsApp.
4. Offer a CheckMEND certificate
Trust is a two-way street. In the same way that you’ll be keen to sell to someone who seems trustworthy, any potential buyers will be vetting you too!
One way to build trust with potential buyers and reassure them that the item is being legitimately sold, is to display a CheckMEND certificate.
All you need in order to run a check is the IMEI number (for phones) or serial number (for all other devices).
By performing a real-time check against billions of records, the CheckMEND certificate gives a comprehensive picture of the device’s history, proving that the item is not fake or cloned, has not been reported as lost or stolen and is not subject to a settled insurance claim or being monitored by a corporation.
Just in case anything goes wrong later down the line, keep a record of your listing, the buyer’s details, any message history and your transactions.
6. What to do when a sale goes wrong
If there is an issue with the sale, you should first try to resolve the problem with the buyer. Remember, if the item has been misrepresented, they are within their consumer rights to ask for a refund.
1. Before you go, protect your belongings by registering them on Immobilise.com, improving your chances of getting them back if they’re lost or stolen.
2. Leave unnecessary valuables at home where possible. Some people even buy a cheap phone to take to festivals, leaving their more expensive handset safely back at home.
3. Keep your wits about you, especially when you’re in a crowd. Consider using a bumbag or money belt, instead of using a rucksack or keeping valuables in your pockets. If you do use a rucksack, wear it around your front in crowds.
4. Never leave valuable items in your tent when you’re not there. It’s worth checking whether there are secure lockers available to use instead. When you’re sleeping, keep valuables at the bottom of your sleeping bag.
5. Check in advance whether traders will take card payments or whether the festival you’re going to is running a cashless scheme, where you can load your wristband with credit beforehand. This way, you’ll avoid the need to carry cash.
CheckMEND is the most comprehensive device history check available; the ‘gold standard’ in due diligence.
So how does it differ from other device history reports and the basic IMEI checks you can find online?
Firstly, it’s important to note that IMEI checks are just for mobile phones. CheckMEND can search not just on IMEIs, but on serial numbers too, so it will check up on the history of tablets, laptops and a whole host of other items, as well as phones.
Most device checks – including CheckMEND – will give you the following information, when you provide them with the IMEI or serial number:
Verification of the manufacturer and model of the item.
Whether the device is blocked (or has ever been blocked); this usually happens after it has been reported to the mobile phone network as being lost or stolen.
Whilst this basic level of information is useful, there is so much more you need to know before buying a device second-hand, whether you’re a retailer, recycler or an individual.
CheckMEND, through its links with the rest of the Recipero crime reduction ecosystem, is in a unique position to paint you a much more detailed picture of a device’s history:
Whether the item has been reported lost or stolen to us
A loss could have been reported to us directly through Immobilise (the national property register) or Report My Loss. Stolen items show up in official police records via the NMPR.
Outcome: Handling of lost or stolen goods. Even if the device isn’t currently blocked, it doesn’t mean it won’t be in the near future.
Whether the item is the subject of a settled insurance claim
A red result would indicate that the item has been shared with us as the subject of a settled insurance claim, via ClaimsCheck.
Outcome: Legal title of the item belongs to the insurer, so you cannot legally own the device.
Whether the device is a suspected clone
Phone cloning is the illegal practice of copying the identification credentials a phone uses in order to connect to a network.
An amber result indicates that the serial checked appears in multiple devices. This is usually restricted to phones. Genuine phones will never share an IMEI. It is amber rather than red because there is no way to determine which of many devices with the same IMEI is the genuine one.
Outcome: Clones are fraudulent handsets with stolen credentials, often sold by criminals to generate revenue. Text messages and calls can also be intercepted.
Whether the device is a reported counterfeit
An amber result indicates that the serial being checked is reported to us as being used in counterfeit devices. It is amber rather than red because there is no way to determine which of many devices with the same IMEI is the genuine one.
Outcome: Typically, counterfeit goods are of inferior quality to the genuine article. They may not be fit for purpose and fake electrical goods can even be a safety risk. Buying counterfeit goods can be damaging to the economy and the sale proceeds are often used to fund more sinister organised crime.
Whether there are one or more previous owners registered
An amber result indicates that the item has been registered under at least one other previous owner, via Immobilise (the national property register).
Outcome: This would only be a concern if the item is being sold as new.
Whether the device belongs to – and is being monitored by – a corporation
A red result indicates that the device being checked is being monitored by Recipero’s AssetWatch service.
Outcome: The device is owned by a corporation, so while an individual may possess it, they may not have the right to legally sell it.
With any of these additional datasets that are checked against, if a red flag is returned then the item poses a risk to any potential buyer.
In most cases, the item cannot legally be sold on. And if you can’t legally own the item, this could pose real issues for you in the future, either during your use of the device or later down the line, if you try to sell it.
If you are selling an item and a CheckMEND search flags an issue with it that you believe to be incorrect, we are here to help. We are happy to look into records that are disputed and where possible resolve the issue, or advise on the source of a record and what action needs to be taken in order to resolve it. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your search and we will investigate the issue.
Please note: Specific traders in niche markets or geographies may be configured to include more or fewer data sources. Data sources may also vary with the class of items being checked. For enquiries please contact support.
It’s true, there is safety in numbers. When neighbours pull together, the whole community becomes stronger. Every step you can take to protect your home, will also be a step in helping to protect your community. Don’t let your road become Easy Street!
Numbers matter. The number of people volunteering within a community, the number of police officers tackling crime, the number of people willing to do the right thing.
Another type of number matters too; serial numbers. They are the easiest possible way to identify an item. When police recover lost or potentially stolen items, they can enter the serial number – or any other unique identifier, for that matter – into a national database called the NMPR, to try to track down the rightful owner.
Did you know it’s completely free to add your valuables to this database? It’s quick and easy; you create an account on the Immobilise.com website and add the details of your items. Immobilise is the world’s biggest FREE ownership register, with over 35 million items already registered. If your valuable doesn’t already have a serial number or other unique identifier, you can add one by using a marking product such as a UV pen or asset label.
Registering your items doesn’t just safeguard your property and improve your chances of being reunited with them if they go missing. There are several other fantastic benefits; not just for you, but for your wider community as well:
Immobilise gives police the evidence they need to prosecute thieves; for example, when they find them in possession of valuables that aren’t registered to them.
It also stops criminals from benefiting financially from theft, by alerting stolen goods database CheckMEND if a registered item goes missing.
If you go one step further and advertise your registration efforts through window stickers or labels on items, it will help to make your home (and by extension, your neighbourhood) look like a dangerous target for criminals. Thieves and burglars are looking for an easy life – and unmarked, untraceable goods to steal and sell.
By registering your valuable items and being part of a community committed to crime prevention, you can increase the chances of recovering stolen goods and deterring criminals. Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action – start protecting your property today, by registering it on immobilise.com
Founded in 2003, it’s been 20 years since the launch of Immobilise – and it’s now the world’s largest free register of possession ownership details! Over 25 million users worldwide have registered over 35 million items of property in that time.
By logging your possessions, you can increase your chances of them being returned to you if they are recovered. With close links to police and other law enforcement agencies, officers will routinely check the database to try to match recovered lost or stolen items with their rightful owners. Any updates you make – such as flagging an item as lost or stolen – are immediately available to police nationally and keeping a detailed log of your valuables can help to simplify insurance claims and police reports.
The Immobilise register is also linked with CheckMEND, the second-hand stolen property database, which can help detect stolen items and prevent them from being traded.
Marking the 20th anniversary, Les Gray, one of the founders of Immobilise, took a moment to reflect on the platform’s success.
“When we first launched Immobilise, we knew its potential. To watch it flourish over the years and become the critical tool against crime that we knew it could be, has been really quite special,” Les commented.
“We’ve achieved a lot in the past 20 years, but there’s still so much more we can do. We’re excited about the future of Immobilise and the role it can play in making our communities safer.”
Any item with a unique identifier can be registered on Immobilise – from mobile phones and laptops to bikes, jewellery and musical instruments. If your item doesn’t have a serial number, or anything else that might help to identify it, using a marking product like a UV pen or asset label could prove useful. Adding a touch of uniqueness will help to match the item back to you as the owner. A number of marking products are sold through the Immobilise online shop, but the system will accept any identifiers, from any third party.
Visibly marking items as being registered – through labels or window stickers for your home, for example – can even help to deter thieves.
We are thrilled to announce that Recipero is expanding its services to Australia with the launch of Immobilise.au – the free online property register.
All Australians can now join our extensive worldwide community, securely registering valuables such as phones, electronics, bikes, jewellery, and more.
Immobilise.au is FREE to use and is just one part of the Recipero crime reduction ecosystem. It offers a user-friendly, intuitive platform that allows you to build up a secure inventory of all of your treasured possessions. You can then notify Immobilise if your valuables are lost or stolen and download keepership certificates to help prove ownership when making insurance claims or police reports.
If your valuables are recovered after being lost or stolen, there is a far greater chance of them being returned to you.
Visit www.immobilise.au now and join the millions of people around the world who have already registered their valued items for free.
Buying privately can save you more money than buying refurbished, but here are the things you need to check before buying a phone or device from an online marketplace or auction site.
Is it worth it?
Buying a device or mobile phone second-hand often works out much cheaper than buying brand new and it’s becoming a far more popular option for consumers looking to keep costs down. It’s also a much more environmentally-friendly purchase than buying new. Buying second-hand helps to keep e-waste down and considerably lengthens the lifetime of the device. It all helps to build a more sustainable, circular economy.
You can buy refurbished devices from retailers, or you can buy from an individual through one of the many second-hand marketplaces and auction sites available online.
Buying a refurbished device direct from a retailer can be the more straightforward option. The device will usually go through thorough checks before being offered for sale and come with a 12-month warranty period to cover any technical issues.
However, buying privately can often save you a lot more money than buying refurbished, particularly if you’re buying on an auction site and the bidding starts low.
The best time to buy is usually following the release of a newer model, as the second-hand marketplace suddenly floods with older versions, some of which would only have been released in the previous year!
Know before you buy
Consumer rights are different when you buy from a private seller – they don’t have to disclose any faults, but they aren’t allowed to misrepresent the item either. If they did, you would be entitled to a full refund.
Given this, it’s really important to do your research and check that the device is exactly what you’re looking for, to avoid disappointment when it arrives. You need to know exactly what you’re getting! Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions if there’s anything not covered in the item description.
Here are some things to bear in mind before you press the ‘Buy’ button.
Check the phone’s condition:
Does the phone switch on and work as it should? (This is an obvious one, but it’s worth checking, just in case!)
Do the cameras and all of the buttons work?
Is the device still under warranty?
What physical condition is the item in – are there scratches on the device or any cracks in the screen? Ask for photos of any damage.
What accessories are included? Does the device come with the original charger, headphones etc?
Are the ports working, particularly the charging port?
Check the battery health
Like all rechargeable batteries, phone batteries become less effective as the device gets older. The good news is your seller can check the device to tell you how effective the battery is, so you don’t get a nasty surprise when it arrives.
Replacement phone batteries vary in price with some being fairly inexpensive, so you may still decide to go ahead with the purchase if the battery capacity isn’t optimal, but you will at least be forewarned.
Over time, smartphones can get ‘left behind’ by the manufacturer, when they no longer support the model with updates. Once a phone stops receiving crucial security updates, it can leave it open to hackers, so this is something to consider when buying an older handset, whether that’s through a private sale or through a second-hand retailer.
Which? has an online tool that lets you check whether a smartphone model is still receiving updates and even estimates when it may stop being supported.
Research prices for similar second-hand devices online
If the price listed is much cheaper than others in a similar condition, it may well be too good to be true, so approach with caution.
Who is the seller?
Some online second-hand marketplaces have review systems in place so that users can rate their experience with a buyer/seller. Check your seller’s ratings or reviews before buying from them.
When it comes to payment, avoid bank transfers as they offer you limited protection. Instead, you should:
Send the money via the marketplace’s official app, or
Use PayPal (Goods and Services, not Family and Friends), or
As a last resort, use your debit or credit card.
Also, as a side note to this, always stick to the selling platform for your messaging – don’t give out your phone number and don’t switch to texts or whatsapp.
Just in case anything goes wrong later down the line, keep a record of the listing, seller’s details, any message history and your transactions.
Is the item legitimate?
Before parting with your hard-earned cash, you need to check that the item is genuine – that it is actually the model you’re looking for and not a fake, or cloned, device.
You will also want to know as much about the device history as possible – you don’t want to buy a phone that has been reported as stolen, or has had an insurance claim made on it, for example. If your seller doesn’t actually own the item, they can’t legitimately sell it and you can therefore never legally own the device, either.
So you’re looking for proof that the item is what the seller says it is and that they can legally sell it. This is where CheckMEND comes in, the world’s most comprehensive device check.
You can ask your seller for a CheckMEND certificate; they should be able to give you an ID for you to verify for yourself online. Or you can ask the seller for the IMEI* or serial number of the device; that’s all you need to check the item’s device history yourself.
A free check is available for all new users (£1.99 thereafter).
*The IMEI number is the phone’s unique identifier. It can be found by typing *#06# into the phone.
When your item arrives…
After all of your research and effort, hopefully you’ve bagged yourself a bargain and you’ll be very happy with your new device. It’s worth giving it a thorough check when it first arrives to make sure it’s everything you were hoping for and that it hasn’t been mis-sold to you.
Is the item as described?
Are all the accessories that were promised included?
Is everything in good working order?
Is the device charging properly? Charging ports can build up with dirt or lint which affects the connection, but they can usually be easily cleaned.
What to do when a sale goes wrong
If the item is different to what you were expecting in any way, you should first try to resolve the issue with the seller. Contact them as soon as you can after receiving the device and give them a deadline to respond to you. Remember, if the item has been misrepresented, you are within your rights to ask for a refund.
Internet safety can feel like quite an overwhelming topic at times, with an ever-changing landscape of technology and a growing number of scams and threats to avoid.
There are a number of simple and straightforward steps you can take to keep yourself safe online. Below, we’ve listed 5 things you can do right now, to start you off on the right path. Best of all, they’re all completely free.
The ‘have I been pwned?’ website is a simple and free resource that will tell you if you have been put at risk due to online accounts being compromised (“pwned”) in a data breach.
Enter your email address and it will tell you which data breaches your account was involved in and offer suggestions on what to do next. You can also subscribe to updates so you can be notified of any further breaches and quickly change your password on the affected account.
2. Set up 2-factor authentication
Even if you have strong passwords, you should turn on 2-step verification where possible – particularly important for accounts such as email, banking and online shopping, all of which store sensitive personal information.
By setting up 2-step (also known as 2-factor) authentication, you will need to enter a code, or use fingerprint or face scan technology, to prove that it’s really you. It only takes a few minutes to set up and will make you much safer online.
3. Track your devices
Setting up ‘Find My’ tracking for your Apple or Android device will allow you to locate it if it’s ever misplaced. In the worst-case scenario where the item lands into the wrong hands, you can also erase your Apple device remotely, limiting the amount of damage done.
4. Tighten your online social circles
How well do you really know Linda? The woman you met on holiday in 2015 and haven’t spoken to since? Now might be a good time to go through your social contacts and make everything a little more ‘slimline’.
Keep your accounts private where possible, think carefully about what you post and don’t share your holiday photos from the sun lounger. Wait until you’re back, so as not to advertise your empty home.
5. Register your portable tech
Immobilise is the world’s largest FREE register of possession ownership details. It can be used by members of the public and businesses to register valued possessions or company assets. Ownership details are then viewable on the police national property database, available to 40,000+ police officers up and down the country, when they are looking to reunite recovered items with their rightful owners.
Updates are immediately available to the police nationally and you can easily manage your account online, adding or removing items or flagging them as lost or stolen. It can help to simplify claims and police reports with certificates of ownership and could even stop the sale of stolen valuables by alerting sister database CheckMEND if an item goes missing.
All you need to register your tech is the make, model and any unique identifier, such as a serial number.