All posts by Jenni Powner-Jones

CheckMEND: 2022 in Review

As we waved goodbye to 2022, we also took a look back at some of the headline figures from the year.

It’s incredible to think that over 4.7 million users may have bought a compromised device if they hadn’t thought to run a check on it first! 

You can find out more about our data sets and how we help to fight fraud and prevent crime by reading about Recipero’s Crime Reduction Ecosystem.

CheckMEND 2022 infographic - year in review

How to Sell Your Old Devices

There are many benefits to selling phones, devices and electronics you no longer need.

Why?

Aside from the obvious perk of a boost to your bank balance, there’s more to it than just money. Fuelled by demand and short product lifecycles, e-waste (anything with a plug or battery) is one of the world’s most complex and fastest-growing waste streams.

These items could be given a second lease of life by finding them a new owner. Or the valuable materials within them can be reused and recycled, promoting a circular economy. Either way, you’ll be helping to reduce e-waste and its impact on the environment.

Where?

There are many routes to market now available for selling your pre-loved gadgets.

  • Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay etc
  • Specialist websites that buy and sell used electronics – there are too many for us to list here, but a quick Google search will give you the main players. MoneySavingExpert.com also has an excellent guide if you’re thinking of selling your mobile phone this way
  • Or alternatively, you could sell privately to friends or family

If an item isn’t in good, working condition, some websites will offer you a lower amount for it. Otherwise, the manufacturer or retailer may have a recycling programme in place, or you might even be able to put it in your household recycling (check first, though).

There’s an excellent tool on the Recycle Now website that will help you to find the right place to correctly dispose of an item.

Getting Started

As mentioned above, if you’re selling a device second-hand, it’s important that your item is in good, working condition and any damage or issues are outlined to the buyer from the outset.

As the owner, it’s your responsibility to delete any data from the device before you sell or recycle it. If you’re unsure how to, Recycle Your Electricals have put together a handy guide.

It’s worth shopping around, to ensure you get the best price you can for your item. If you’re listing it on an online auction site, or even selling to someone you know, make sure you do your research to ensure your pricing is fair.

How can CheckMEND help?

With CheckMEND, you can run the world’s most comprehensive device check, with real-time checks against billions of records. It allows you to unlock an item’s history, checking that it has not been recorded as stolen, lost, blacklisted/blocked, or had insurance claims made against it.

As a seller, by providing a CheckMEND certificate, you can verify the item isn’t compromised and is eligible for sale. This helps to build trust between you and your buyer and to ultimately achieve your best price.

There is a FREE check available for all new users (£1.99 thereafter).

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.

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.

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.

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.