Tag Archives: Crime Prevention

Safe And Sound: How To Have A Secure Festival Experience This Summer

Summer has finally arrived, and that festival you’ve been eagerly awaiting is just around the corner!

The UK is a nation of festival-goers. A study by UK Music shows that over 37 million people attended UK festivals and concerts in 2022!

Festivals are all about letting go and having a blast, but with so many people around, they come with unique security challenges.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of planning travel and other logistics that you might forget about securing your valuables.

Phones top the list of at-risk items at UK festivals, with over one in ten festival goers having lost, damaged or had a device stolen.

As with anything, planning is key to having a great time without any nasty surprises. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before and during the event to ensure a safer, more enjoyable experience.

Friends making selfies at the summer festival

Before you go…

Here are our top tips for securing your possessions before heading off to soak up the vibes.

  • Mark & register your valuables. Almost all of us will take a phone to an event, and it’s crucial to register it before you set off. Dial *#06# on your handset to reveal the 15-digit IMEI number(s) on the screen. Create an account on Immobilise.com and register the device’s make, model, IMEI, and serial numbers. It only takes a few minutes and is completely FREE. Add other identifiable marks using a UV pen or an asset label for an extra layer of security. Should you lose your phone and it is found, this will help the authorities return it to you. If you are taking other devices, such as a smartwatch or camera, register these as well.

  • Note important details. Write down the contact details for a friend and a family member you can reach, including your phone’s provider and your bank account information, in case you need to cancel cards or report the loss or theft of your phone. Keep these details on a piece of paper in a safe place—separate from your phone!

  • Check your travel insurance policy. If you have one, review it. You might be covered for trips in the UK lasting more than two nights, but ensure it includes tent stays.
    Additionally, consider personal possessions insurance. Check for policy exclusions or excess payments. This is often an add-on to contents insurance, so verify if you already have it with your home insurance.

  • Check if the venue is cashless. If not, use on-site cashpoints rather than carrying large amounts of cash.

When you’re there…

Following a few basic rules will help you enjoy the experience and keep yourself and your belongings safe.

  • Keep valuables out of sight. Don’t store them in outer pockets; instead, keep them in a secure location like a zippered pocket or money belt.

  • Use lockers if available. Some festivals offer free lockers where you can store items that might be targeted by thieves, like bikes or car keys.

  • Keep valuables to a minimum. If possible, leave your valuable phone at home! Consider taking an older phone instead of your latest model. Phone theft is common at festivals, so if you must take your phone, protect it with a passcode and turn on location tracking such as ‘Find My iPhone’. Additionally, consider using a crossbody lanyard case, making it much harder for someone to snatch it from you. Check out the latest phone lanyards of 2024 in the review below: Top 10 Best Phone Lanyards in 2024 – FindThisBest (UK)

  • Protect your phone. Use a waterproof cover to prevent damage from spills, being dropped in a puddle, or even a pint!

  • Secure valuables at night. Keep wallets, phones, cameras, car keys, etc., at the bottom of your sleeping bag where they’re inaccessible to others.

  • Be mindful of your surroundings. In the moment, you could get separated from your friends in a crowd. Knowing the layout will help you get your bearings. Make a note of where festival staff or security points are.

  • Look out for each other. Whether it’s your friends or other festival-goers, stay vigilant. If you see someone struggling, offer support by alerting the event staff.

  • Consider using a safeguarding app. These allow you to share your location with trusted contacts.
    Examples include:
    Imabi Community: a free tool for real-time safety alerts.
    Imabi Guardian: a free personal safety app.

  • Have a meeting place. Agree on a spot to meet up if you get separated. Just having a plan can reduce stress.

Festivals are tons of fun, and with careful planning, you can relax and enjoy them to the fullest. Get ready for an unforgettable festival experience!

Audience with hands in the air at a music festival

For more great tips on festival safety, check out Festival Safe.  

Secure Your Garden And Protect Your Home

When it comes to security, many people focus solely on their homes and the vehicles parked outside. However, gardens are often a primary target for thieves.

According to a 2022 study by Sunlife, a staggering 9 out of 10 household thefts occur in the garden (Ideal Home).

The ‘Hot’ Targets Lurking In Your Garden
Modern gardens are often filled with valuable items, making them lucrative targets for thieves, especially during the summer when we tend to leave them outside for convenience.

Ideal Home reported that the most frequently stolen items from outdoor living spaces are quality garden furniture, ornaments, power tools, lawnmowers, BBQs, and ladders (2022 data).

Securing Access Points To Your Home
While we like to view our gardens as peaceful sanctuaries, they are also often the first line of defence against burglars looking to gain access to our homes.

According to the ONS, in the year running up to March 2023, there were 525 burglaries a day in England and Wales; that’s one every 165 seconds!

To avoid becoming a statistic, remember that securing your garden not only prevents theft of the possessions you keep in it, but it also makes it much harder for intruders to access your home.

Two-Pronged Security Approach
To secure your garden effectively, consider a two-pronged approach:

  1. Secure high-value items.
  2. Make your garden less attractive to thieves overall.

Be Proactive!
Thankfully, there are plenty of proactive ways to deter burglars from considering your property an easy target.

Think like an intruder. Would you steal something that is clearly marked and registered to the owner? Probably not. Thieves aim to avoid anything that may link them to a crime and perceive it as not worth the risk.

Ways To Help Deter Theft:

  1. Register valuables: Immobilise.com is the world’s largest free register of possession ownership details and is searchable by all UK police. It is a powerful tool in the fight against property crime. Register your power tools, garden equipment, bicycles, and all other valuables with unique identifiers such as serial numbers or engravings. If your items don’t have identifiers, use a marking product like a UV pen, asset labels, or an etching tool.

  2. Visible warnings: Use window stickers and labels on items of property to warn potential thieves that your items are protected, both in vehicles and buildings. Often, the mere presence of a warning is enough to deter a break-in.

  3. Bikes: Bikes can be high-value, low-risk targets for potential thieves. If unprotected, they’re easy to resell in locations away from the theft. Statistics published by roadandmountainbikereviews.co.uk reveal that a bike is stolen every minute in the UK and fewer than 5% are returned to their owners. If you own one or more bikes, follow these steps:
  • Register them on Immobilise.com – our useful video below will guide you through the simple process.
  • Fit a security tag.
  • Use visible deterrents.

Enhancing Garden Security

A criminal will nearly always take the path of least resistance. They will choose the house with the overgrown hedge, unlocked gate or the house that has places to hide around it while they scope out what is worth stealing. Don’t let that property be yours!

We’ll explore some key ways to secure your garden:

  1. Boundaries: Ensure your fences and walls are secure. Adding a trellis or planting thorny climbers like Berberis, Hawthorn, Holly, or Pyracantha can be effective deterrents. These plants can also trap thieves, leaving behind valuable clues like torn clothes or DNA.

  2. Gates and pathways: Always keep gates locked and use high-quality locks. Gravel pathways can deter intruders due to the noise they make when walked on.

  3. Home entry points: Keep windows and doors closed when you’re not around. Installing proximity detectors, security lights, or cameras can add an extra layer of security.

  4. Sheds and outbuildings: Regular maintenance is crucial. A Which? report highlights that 22,500 households fall victim to shed burglary annually, with power tools and bikes being common targets (2019). Ensure your shed has strong locks and hinges, and consider motion sensors and security lights. Failing to meet the minimum standard or maintenance condition for your shed could result in an insurance claim being rejected if you’re targeted by criminals.

  5. Garden offices: Garden offices are becoming much more common. With computers and other expensive devices often left inside, it’s essential to secure the building. Check that windows and doors close properly and that the locks work efficiently. Consider adding an alarm system or CCTV and security lighting. Mark all your valuables with your postcode, register them on immobilise.com, and use deterrent stickers to let thieves know they are traceable.

Extra Steps You Can Take:

  • Be community-minded: As with many things, there’s strength in numbers, and this applies to home and garden security, too. Think about joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme or just agree to look out for each other’s property, especially when a house is empty.

  • Avoid sharing your absence on social media: Some opportunists use social media to gauge when houses are vacant. Don’t post those holiday photos until you get home!

Securing your garden and everything in it makes it a much less attractive target and is a vital step in protecting your property.

Ensure your outdoor space remains a haven of peace and not an entry point to your home!

Festival Security: 5 Ways to Protect Your Valuables

37% of people have had a valuable item lost or stolen at a UK festival, costing an average of £146.35

ComparetheMarket.com, 2022

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.

For more handy festival tips, particularly if you’re a first-time festival-goer, visit https://www.festivalsafe.com/information/

Safety in Numbers

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

20 Years of Immobilise

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.

Immobilise launches in Australia

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.

5 Instant Ways to Make Yourself Safer Online

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.

Why stop there though? Find more tips, tricks and advice from The National Cyber Security Centre, Get Safe Online and The UK Safer Internet Centre.

1. Subscribe to data breach emails

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.

Register your valuables for free on Immobilise.com.

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

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.

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.