'Tis the season to be a bit more careful. While you're whipped up into a frenzy of goodwill to all men, there are those who are poised to take advantage. Research has found that more than 1.7 million people have had their personal possessions stolen when they are out and about in the run up to Christmas.
People are being urged to be on their guard this Saturday, December 10 – pinpointed as the peak day for festive pickpocketing. So how can you protect yourself?
Party riskA survey by CPP Group has fund that when we let our hair down we are more at risk. One in five (18%) victims had items stolen in a bar or pub, while 15% had something stolen in a nightclub. It may not be a surprise to learn that we're more vulnerable after a drink. Some 29% admitting they had consumed a few drinks before the theft took place – a figure which rises to 49% of 18-24 year olds.
Risky behaviourThe company sent Psychologist David Moxon out to a London bar (nice work if you can get it) to identify the behaviours that were leaving people open to threat. He said there was a potential theft every three minutes. A third (30%) of customers displayed 'risky behaviour', placing their valuables out of sight, but easily accessible to potential thieves.
Psychologist David Moxon comments, "When you're in a social environment you are more likely to be less vigilant. If you're happy and enjoying yourself it's easy to think 'happy thoughts' about the venue and people around you which could lead to over-trustfulness and an increase in risky behaviour. Higher levels of oxytocin, which is the 'bonding' hormone may also be experienced and this could lead to increased – and sometimes inappropriate – levels of trust."
The resulting thefts, however, are certain to dampen your good mood. The average value of the things stolen – mobiles, handbags, keys, cash, wallets and purses – comes to more than £229. It leaves 17% of people stranded, needing to borrow money in order to get home. For others the impact continued long after the night. One in ten (10%) had goods or services ordered in their name, and some (2%) had fraudulent lines of credit taken out as a result.
So what can you do?CPP suggests:
1) Don't carry multiple debit/credit cards in a wallet – only carry the essential cards you need
2) Don't leave belongings unattended
3) Don't carry debit/credit cards loose in a bag or pocket
4) Make sure you have an emergency card loss reporting number - either your bank's or a card protection company if you use one.
5) Don't ever write down your PIN number – if it is used you could find yourself liable for any fraudulent transactions
6) Don't let bar staff/waiting staff take your debit/credit card out of sight – they could be copied or cloned
7) If anything happens, report it to the manager of the venue immediately
8) If you are concerned your cards may have been lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately to get the card cancelled