Target Hardening & Theft Awareness: Guidance from our local HW SNT Team

Please see below guidance from our Local Police Team

Target Hardening & Theft Awareness:

  • If your car is unattended, ensure it is double-locked and try your own car door handle to ensure you cannot open it. Even if you’re only going to be away from your car for 5 seconds, LOCK IT, it is not worth the risk – do not make it easy for thieves.
  • If somebody asks you to pay for parking – question whether or not you are actually in a ‘pay to park’ area. For example, Tesco Car Parks and most other supermarkets are not usually ‘Pay & Display’ car parks anymore, in most situations they operate on ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) to work out when your car initially parks and when it leaves, and Tesco usually offer 3 Hours Free Parking so unless it states otherwise or the car park signage – DO NOT give anybody money who is claiming to be a parking attendant, even if they seem legitimate, and if they direct you to a pay point ensure that your vehicle is locked and you have no belongings on display in the vehicle. Thieves will try and get you away from your vehicle in order to quickly steal things if you have left it unlocked or have left valuables on display. Parking attendants will have ID, and sometimes thieves will even make ‘Fake IDs’ to trick people. If you are in doubt, ask them to accompany you to the store and have the store staff say whether they are legitimate or not – if they will not do this, they are likely hiding something more sinister.
  • Another way that thieves will try and separate you from your vehicle is by trying to convince you to take your trolley to a trolley bay that is on the other side of the car park – far away from your vehicle. If somebody directs you to do something and it doesn’t really make sense, ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” If it doesn’t make sense, follow your instincts and do not be afraid to report that person to site security, or the police if you are fearful that they may do something imminently.
  • Thieves will often operate in teams, and sometimes the person trying to get you away from your vehicle isn’t always the person doing the stealing, so even if you think the person you’re talking to can’t do any harm whilst they’re with you – remember that it may not be the only person involved.
  • Thieves will also try and commit fraud and theft at cashpoints. This may be done by ‘Shoulder Surfing’ in order to watch you put your card number in, and then stealing your card (either blatantly or by pickpocketing) to then go on to steal your money. Keep your wits about you whilst withdrawing cash or using your card.
  • It also doesn’t hurt to have a good look at a cashpoint before using it – does it look right? Can you see any skimming devices fitted? If your card gets stuck in the machine and you cannot get it out, do not just assume that it’s a cashpoint fault or you’ve done something wrong – call your bank immediately and cancel that card, if you have online banking you can cancel cards using a mobile app on your phone in most cases. Do not take the chance, do not delay cancelling cards – it only takes a couple of minutes for that card to be in their hands and being used to steal your money.
  • Most thieves are opportunistic, and will pounce if you let your guard down – do not make it easy for them. If it is going to be difficult to get one over on you, it may not be worth their time.

There are countless online scams, but the most common is:

  • If somebody calls you claiming to be from a service provider, think about whether you even use that service. For example if you use Virgin Media, and someone claiming to be from BT calls you, hang the phone up – people will claim to be from various companies to try and trick you into thinking you owe them money. Do NOT let them scare you into thinking that you will be “Imprisoned” or “Taken to court” if you do not listen to them. Legitimate companies will not try and put fear into you like this. If you really owe a company money, usually they will send you a letter and not try to instil fear into you over the phone. Scammers will try and keep you on the phone and win your trust, do NOT listen to them if you have no real reason to. They will try to make you think they are just looking after your best interests, whereas really they are trying to scam you via many means. Do not transfer them any money, and do NOT give them any access to your devices. A legitimate company will not try to gain access to your devices just to get a bill paid – they’ll simply send a letter in most cases.
  • Emails from companies should also be looked at in detail – scammers will send thousands of emails to unsuspecting victims to make you think you’ve missed a payment, or that you’ve missed a delivery and must pay a “fee” to get it reattempted. If you receive such emails, before clicking on any links you should check the sender address, they will ‘spoof’ and fake the address to make it seem legitimate but if you click on the sender’s name it will give you the origin address and in most cases this is a personal email address that has been made to look like a company email address. There is NO harm in being sceptical if it saves you becoming a victim. Also keep an eye out for spelling / grammatical errors – If it seems too good to be true, or too unrealistic – it probably is a scam.

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