Many of our customers are purchasing security items for themselves or loved ones but would still like some guidance on personal safety and security.
How to reduce the risk of becoming the victim of crime ….
We have outlined a few safety tips and advice from years of experience in the security area.
Although a lot of this advice is aimed at safety in big towns or cities, it is also sound guidance for all your daily travels in the UK.
If you feel you need some guidance should a confrontation potentially turn violent, have a look at our Physical Attack Advice page.
The first trip to a large city or new area can seem very daunting. You can suddenly find yourself surrounded by literally thousands of people and strange places!
You must remember that becoming a victim of crime is very rare, but the risk is there nevertheless.
Generally, placing yourself amongst almost any large gathering of people will increase the risk of crime. Whether it is through theft of personal items to, at its worst, assault.
When you arrive in any large city or new area, the first steps to take is to acclimatise yourself to the area you are in.
Ensure you know where you are!
Make a note of where your hotel, accommodation or even where your new home is located.
This advice may sound obvious but cities can be very confusing, especially in a new, strange area, after dark.
Carry some form of identification in your pocket, bag or coat but be aware that thieves and fraudsters would love this kind of information.
Noting a clearly labelled emergency phone number on a piece of paper that can easily be found by the emergency services if needed is a good idea.
It is a good idea to keep emergency contact details in one of our key-ring sized aluminium containers.
Do not carry your address in your bag or anywhere it can be lost or stolen.
A personal alarm should be carried at all times. Modern safety alarms can now easily fit in a small pocket or purse and be can activated should you feel threatened.
Walk and act in a confident manner. Try to give the impression you are aware of where you are and know where you are going.
Criminals often look for an easy, insecure target.
If at all possible, let friends, family or employers of know of your travel plans and what time you can be expected back.
Try to stick to well-lit areas where other people may be. It is not wise to use alleyways or other shortcuts during darkness. If you feel unsure of your surroundings, always try to head to well lit, populated areas.
Whilst travelling, you are exposing yourself to other people who may not share the same values on law and order as you.
An awareness of the dangers that exist, although remote, will help you during your journey, whether it be commuting to work, visiting friends or just for pleasure.
Bag and phone theft
Bag and phone theft is always a problem in large cities.
A simple case of a lost bag can turn into a more serious burglary or identity theft, especially if you have also lost your keys!
Never leave any of your possessions or bags unattended!
Although bag thieves tend to steal from unattended bags in pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants, phone snatching is still a common problem in all areas.
A Bag Hanger is a very useful device to help keep your bag in sight.
Phone theft is one of the most common crimes in cities. Victims will often walk around with a device worth upwards of £500 in their hand, oblivious to their surroundings.
A simple Mobile Phone Security Cable can protect your phone from theft or drops.
Pay attention to where you are!
When using your mobile phone, always be aware of who's around you.
Some criminals will simply try to grab your bag or phone straight from you.
Consider the use of a purse alarm to secure your purse. These types of alarm will sound a loud siren should a thief attempt to steal from your bag.
Another approach is the use of very low cost Purse Dipping Bells to hear the purse or bag being interfered with.
Some criminals are less conspicuous when stealing from you. They will not necessarily grab your bag from you. They are skilled thieves who can gently open your bag and steal your property unnoticed.
This type of crime, known as 'dipping', is particularly common in busy London streets as well as other busy towns cities.
Some bag thieves will use a very sharp knife or razor to actually slice open your bag if worn to the rear and place their hands inside.
This type of theft if more common in heavily crowded areas such as travels hubs where you may not be so suspicious of people standing very close. They may also gently cut the bag straps to make off with your whole bag.
Position your bag to the front of you as much as possible.
Thieves frequently operate:
- At train stations.
- At ATM cash machines.
- In secluded areas such as car parks.
- Around travel hubs such as train and bus stations.
- In very crowded areas, especially at peak travel time such as rush hour.
When using your mobile phone, always be aware of who's around you.
"Follow off" thefts happen when you are seen to use an expensive device on public transport such as a bus or train and are then followed by the criminal when you leave.
They will follow you to a quite area with the intention of robbing you.
Pay attention to who is around you when on public transport and what expensive goods you are advertising by their use.
If travelling by public transport, find out the train or bus times so you don't have to wait for too long, especially at night.
Sit as close to the bus driver as possible.
It is not wise to wear expensive watches and jewellery out in public.
Cash and other small valuables can be safely hidden away in our Secret Money Belt.
Thieves have actually been known to follow people to their home to rob them.
Have your keys ready when you get home so you don't have to search for them and can go straight inside.
At present, the theft of Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads is a particular problem.
If worried, walk into the nearest shop and ask for assistance.
If you cannot find a shop, stay close to the station ticket area where you are more likely to be in the company of other commuters and security cameras.
If you have already left the station or bus stop and feel threatened, knock on a private house door if possible and explain to the occupants that you feel unsafe. Most occupants will be happy to assist you.
Do not enter the house! Ask if you can wait at their front door with them for a few minutes but politely decline any offers of entry.
To sum up safety whilst travelling on trains and buses:
- Look up bus and train times before starting your journey. This will help you avoid long waiting times at train stations and bus stops. Many smart phones now have apps that can give you bus and rail timetables and even their live progress.
- Whilst travelling on buses, it is worth considering sitting or standing on the lower deck near to the driver. Although, as a rule, you should find carriages occupied by other people, it can also be safer travelling in the first carriage of the underground system. If you feel threatened, you can bang on the drivers door. Although the driver will not open the door, they will be alerted to an incident in the carriage and will investigate at the next stop.
You can also pull the emergency handle situated near the doors if you can get to it safely.
- Do not be embarrassed, to scream and shout if you feel threatened! You will need to attract as much attention as possible on a train if you believe you are in danger.
To sum up safety whilst travelling in the street:
- Before you leave, consider how you will get home.
- If your journey involves mainly walking, stay away from poorly lit isolated car parks, alleyways and subways. It is also a good idea to walk in the centre of the pavement.
- Make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Listening to music through earphones or talking on your phone may make you less able to perceive any danger around you.
- If you believe someone may be following you, head towards other people or other populated places such as shops, petrol garages or even houses.
- A personal attack alarm should always be carried. Have one ready to activate should you feel nervous or unsure of your surroundings.
- If possible, walk facing incoming traffic. You will be able to see who is approaching you. If a car pulls up along side you, be prepared to move or run away in the opposite direction the car is facing.
Keeping your possessions safe:
- Keep expensive watches, necklaces and other valuables out of sight.
- Do not carry expensive items in your bag or rucksack.
Try to use your pockets as much as possible. Use separate pockets and favour inside coat or jacket pockets where possible.
Place valuable items in your tightest pockets.
A Secret Pocket is a hidden pocket that is worn under your top clothing and is ideal to keep valuables out of sight.
- Remember to carry your bag to the front of you as much as possible. If placing a larger bag on the floor whilst on a train or underground system when sitting, rest one hand on the bag handles.
- Do not advertise expensive phones in public.
Be discreet when making a phone call. Phone snatching is a particular problem in towns and cities. One well known smart phone provider actually issued a bag with the company's logo on saying 'Got one!' when you purchased a very expensive phone. Not a very wise move.
- It is a good idea to carry out of date credit cards in an old wallet with a little money in to give to muggers if required.
ATM's (Cash Dispensers) …..
Pay particular care around these machines, both day and night.
Many large cities are being plagued by criminals around these devices.
There are a number of scams that are used to steal your money:
The Lebanese Loop explained.
The criminals will fit a small plastic insert into the card reader slot.
You then insert you bank card which is then held in place by the insert.
You enter your PIN whilst being observed from behind.
The machine will not dispense your money and your card is trapped.
You will believe the machine has kept your card due to a fault and leave.
The criminals will then extract your card from their insert and now also have your PIN by watching you enter it. They will soon use your card and PIN to withdraw your money.
It is also a good idea to make use of a Card Defender that prevents a thief electronically reading your cards. They are looking to steal either money or personal information.
False Plate explained.
Another variation of this theft involves an actual false plate that is attached to the ATM, normally by glue.
This will again collect your card as before, but some thieves are actually filming you entering your PIN via a miniature camera attached to the false front.
This means that no one needs to be standing close to you to observe you entering the PIN.
Before using the ATM, have a close look at the machine.
Does it look right?
Does the machine look as though anything has been added?
You may see the glue remnants where the false front has been removed by the criminals earlier.
Is anyone standing close to you?
If you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Do not risk losing you card and money.
Distraction Theft explained.
This crime is often carried out by two or more criminals and is normally conducted once you have just received your money from the ATM.
A liquid, quite often a food sauce, is squirted on your clothing from behind. The criminal "comes to your aid" and attempts to wipe the substance off.
Whilst you are distracted, their accomplice will snatch your money or bank card from your hand, pocket or bag and run off.
Quite often, the victim will not even realise they have been robbed until later when they find their money missing.
The criminals would have made a note of your PIN by observing you enter it from behind.
If you notice a suspicious group of people hovering around an ATM, do not use it and find another.
This distraction method of theft is also commonly used against elderly or more vulnerable people after withdrawing sums of cash from within a bank.
Never keep your pin and card together. You should memorise your pin.
Try to withdraw your money in daylight hours. Have a quick check to see who is behind you. If you find strangers are standing too close, politely ask them to move back or leave the machine if you feel uncomfortable.
Place your withdrawn money straight in a front pocket or bag immediately.
Do not stand at the machine and count your money!
Evenings Out And Socialising …..
This advice is mainly aimed towards our younger female customers but is also sound advice for all.
On a night out, be it a busy pub/club or any other large venue, arrange a meeting place with your friends or associates should you get separated.
Do not rely on your phone to make contact - the venue may be too loud to make contact.
Keep your bag in sight when visiting public places such as pubs.
Do not hang your bag on the back of your chair.
Consider using a Bag Hanger to secure your bag in front of you.
Do not keep your address and keys together. If possible, keep your wallet in an inside jacket pocket, definitely not in your rear trouser pocket. This is good advice for all your daily travels.
Remember - Keep your keys in a different place from anything that has your address details on it.
There have been numerous cases of assaults on women who have been approached by 'friendly' strangers offering help to a stranded lady who may have drunk a little too much alcohol.
Show extreme caution to these offers of help. As a rule, politely decline the offer if at all possible.
If waiting at a bus stop late at night, decline any offers of a lift home by strangers. This sounds like obvious advice, but tired and possibly a little drunk individuals, tend to make poor judgement calls late at night.
As a rule, know your alcohol limit. If you do drink too much, stay close to your friends.
As in all cities, London has a thriving illegal minicab problem.
Unlicensed mini cabs will not have the correct insurance and will be operated by unchecked drivers.
These unscrupulous drivers can have all sorts of criminal convictions and may pose a danger, mainly to women.
It is a sad fact that many women have suffered sexual assaults by using these illegal minicab services.
If at all possible, use an authorised minicab. The venue you are leaving should be able to assist with this. Failing that, look for a licensed black cab if you are in central London.
To sum up how to stay safe on nights out:
- You should know your alcohol limit. Once you realise it is affecting your judgement, your ability to care for yourself and make sound decisions is impaired. Now would be a good time to leave or consider drinking soft drinks.
- Never leave your drink or food unattended. If you must leave them for some reason, make sure a friend can keep an eye on them for you.
- If you feel something may have been added to your drink or food, or you start feeling drowsy or disorientated, tell a friend straight away. You should make sure a trusted friend stays with you until you get home.
To sum up safety during taxi and minicab journeys:
- Always use a taxi or licensed minicab. Minicabs are not allowed to be hailed in the street, unlike licensed black taxis often found in large cities. Minicabs should be pre-booked via a phone call or direct with the minicab office. The license to carry passengers should be displayed in the vehicle.
- If booking a minicab, ask what colour car and what the drivers name is. You can then confirm with the driver that he is indeed the correct minicab ordered. Always sit in the rear of the car and try to keep any conversation as minimal as possible. Do not give any personal details if you do talk.
- If you feel threatened or uneasy in the car, ask the driver to stop in the first populated or busy area you find. Do not feel embarrassed to get the attention of a passer-by or even the police if you feel the driver will not stop or becomes aggressive.
- One of the best safety tips is very simple. Stay with your friends for the entire duration you are out. These are the people you know and trust. Strangers, no matter how friendly they seem, are not to be trusted when you first meet.
We hope these tips will be of use to you - if you remember just one or two, you would have decreased your exposure to becoming a victim of crime.