High street and mall shopping
Pickpockets can be incredibly skilful at relieving unwary shoppers of their valuables, so always keep your purse/wallet and mobile phone out of sight in a zipped bag or front pocket. If you’re planning an epic shopping trip that will see you returning to your car several times to drop off purchases, don’t leave bags on view in the back seat. Lock them in the boot, preferably in a secure car park with plenty of cameras. Another sensible precaution (in case you fall prey to thieves or fraudsters) is to have emergency bank and credit card phone numbers to hand, so you can cancel them quickly if you lose them.
If you need to withdraw cash for a Christmas night out or shopping trip, it’s best to use a bank ATM rather than a cash machine outside a convenience store – bank ATMs generally have good-quality CCTV coverage which may deter criminals from installing skimming devices. Once you’ve inserted your card into the machine, shield the keypad with your free hand to prevent anyone from seeing your PIN. And ignore any distractions while making your withdrawal – that’s a common tactic employed by criminals. If your card is retained by the machine for any reason, contact your card provider immediately to make sure there is a valid reason, because it’s not unknown for criminals to install their own device to steal customers’ cards.
Secure parcel boxes
The rise in online shopping means that most of us have lots of parcels delivered to our homes at this time of year, which presents thieves with an obvious target – so consider installing a secure parcel box. The courier or postman simply places letters and packages into the receiving hatch, then once they close the hatch, the contents drops into a secure compartment below. Once you return home you can retrieve your parcel by opening the box with your key. And if the delivery requires a signature, some parcel boxes feature a unique barcode which can be scanned and recorded by the courier.
Parcel pick-up points
Staying at home to receive a delivery isn’t a practical solution for most people, so another secure solution for deliveries is to use a parcel pick-up point. These are increasingly common in petrol stations, shops, post offices and just about anywhere that offers a secure environment and long opening hours. The concept is very simple – you nominate a registered pick-up point as your delivery address, then instead of missing your parcel, or having to find a neighbour to accept delivery, your package is dropped off at your designated pick-up point, ready for collection whenever it’s convenient.