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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The outdoor furniture market in the UK amounts to £1.26 billion this year
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.
Now Recipero is formally part of TransUnion after being acquired by the leading global risk and information solutions provider last month (19th June), there will be a phased approach to changing our appearance which we expect to complete by the end of the year. Becoming part of TransUnion is an important step in making it easier for companies to do business with us, both domestically and internationally, by providing access to greater expertise across global markets.
What does it mean for you?
During this time of change, our priority remains on continuing to deliver the excellent level of service and insight that our customers have grown to expect.
As the phased integration process continues, you will start to become familiar with TransUnion which already has a presence in over 30 countries worldwide. The company will be referred to as ‘Recipero, now part of TransUnion’ during the initial stage, as reflected in the logo.
If you have any questions about the acquisition and integration process, please reach out to your account management team or for more information you can click here.
We look forward to bringing you further news as our integration journey continues throughout the year.
Imagine a scenario where you’ve seized the mobile phone, tablet, laptop or other digital device in the course of your investigation. You’ve downloaded the contents or interrogated the device for evidence. With any luck, you’ve found something to assist you to seek well-earned justice for the victim in the case, but why stop there…
Tap the IMEI or serial number into the National Mobile Property Register (NMPR) which has a wealth unique data drawn from the Recipero Crime Reduction Ecosystem. To find the IMEI on any phone dial *#06#. Device data collected from various sources starts to form a picture of the device’s history and provides intelligence that can reveal more about the device itself than the contents of it, helping you make more of every lead.
We have helped to join the dots for a wide range of use cases and investigations ranging from all different types of crime, missing persons, organised crime, custody suite checks on property in the possession of detainees and many others.
If you are interested in finding out more about the ways the NMPR can help make you more efficient in the fight against crime then please get in touch. We recently helped North Wales Police with a week-long force-wide training roadshow which has already started to yield positive results.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to working with you soon!
Police Business Development Manager
Mobile phone fraud prevention specialist, Recipero, part of the Callcredit Information Group, is urging consumers and retailers to undertake device checks when buying a second hand phone to avoid becoming a victim of fraud during the January sales and beyond.
Recipero’s CheckMEND data* reveals, that the number of device checks made on second hand iPhones has almost doubled in the last four years, highlighting the growth in the size of the second hand phone market and the increased awareness amongst some consumers and retailers of ensuring the legitimacy of second hand phones.
Last January there was a spike in the number of iPhone checks performed via the Recipero CheckMEND service. More than 1.3 million checks took place (more than 400,000 up on the month before) and Callcredit’s analysts are expecting upwards of two million at the start of 2018.
Mark Harman, Managing Director of Recipero, said: “Even though our findings highlight that there has been an increase in second hand iPhone device checks, fraud is prevalent in what is a market for increasingly expensive devices. Latest ONS crime figures, compiled from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, show 401,000 mobile phones were reported as stolen in the 12 month period ending March 2017. It’s important that consumers and retailers take the necessary precautions and check the history of a device.”
The Recipero data also revealed a surge in the number of searches on the CheckMEND database following the introduction of new iPhone models – as it shows the number of device checks being performed increasing by over a third (36.6%)** in the period after a new release.
Mark concluded: “A check on a second hand phone includes a device life history that starts at the point of manufacture, through ownership changes, right up to it being recycled. The device is checked against IMEI, a phone’s unique reference number, loss and theft reports and police crime reports in the US and UK, insurers title information and settled claims. These checks provide information which will flag up (red) in a CheckMEND report if the device is compromised, helping to protect those purchasing a second hand phone from acquiring a lost or stolen device.”
*Based on CheckMEND UK data of number of checks made on iPhones each month from Jan 2014- Dec 2017 inclusive. Taken from the Recipero database which is part of the Callcredit Information Group.
**Based on the average number of CheckMEND iPhone device checks two months prior to a new iPhone launch and the average for the two months following.
You will hear this saying a lot in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. Preparation is not only a great idea help your Christmas planning run smoothly, but it’s worth preparing for those unforeseen circumstances around the festive period.
The last thing you want around this time of year is to worry about burglars but according to The Office of National Statistics, police recorded burglary is up by 3% and theft by 7% compared to last year. So, it is imperative we do as much as possible to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our property as safe as possible.
Follow a few simple tips for a safer holiday season:
Staying Safe this Winter
Register on Immobilise: Before you get too busy with Christmas preparations take some time to record your valuable items on Immobilise, so you have a secure list of precious items.