British consulates in Europe are reporting rising numbers of street crimes, with many involving stolen passports, as a result of austerity measures and high unemployment rates. In recent years, "beach bags" have become a hot target, with 30,000 UK passports stolen each year at a cost of £400 made on the average stolen passport.
A typical beach bag is now worth thousands of pounds as they may include a number of mobile phones, Kindles, credit cards, and tablets. Despite their high value, they are a very easy and therefore attractive target.
Research Local Crime Information
Before travelling, it is suggested that you seek advice from government sources before travelling abroad. Additionally, you can consult local tourist advice upon arrival. These sources will normally have specific information on what to look out for and which areas to avoid.
Crimes against tourists (such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching) tend to occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation so tourists are advised to be especially vigilant when travelling.
- - Visit www.gov.uk/search and search for the specific advice given for your chosen destination.
- - Don't put your home address on your outward bound luggage. Do have contact details for your holiday location.
- - Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Credit cards are much safer and can be replaced.
- - Be aware of carrying bags on your back where you will be less aware of it being opened without your knowledge.
- - Try to familiarise yourself with the area that you are visiting. Consider asking the local tourist office to advise you of any areas or districts that you should avoid.
- - Hire cars are particularly vulnerable as they usually carry stickers telling criminals they are being driven by tourists. Be careful where you park, and remove belongings from the vehicle, or lock them away.
By taking out travel insurance and getting a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can avoid huge medical bills if you have an emergency on holiday.
Healthcare is free at the point of delivery in the UK, but don't assume it's the same abroad. You will often have to pay part, if not all, of your medical bills which can be surprisingly costly. It's important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy.
British families are also being advised to check their insurance policies to find out how much cash is covered for theft or loss, with many insurers recently lowering cover to as low as a £500 maximum.
Protect Your Home
The monthly average of burglaries reported in the UK is nearly 40,000 - 70% of all recorded crime - and yet it is the easiest to prevent. Your house is vulnerable when you are away for a length of time, but there are steps you can take to prevent burglary and to ensure your home is as secure as it can be.
It's also a good idea to make sure you are covered by the correct building and contents insurance, which can be a welcome relief if your house is targeted.
- - Ask a good friend or neighbour to help keep your home looking occupied. An alternative is to consider using the services of an organisation such as Homesitters on https://www.homesitters.co.uk/
- - Avoid a tell-tale build-up of post inside your front door by getting a neighbour to move it, or asking Royal Mail to hold on to your letters until you return using its KeepSafe service found on www.royalmail.com
- - Put away tools or ladders – they could be used to force entry to your home.
- - Avoid discussing holiday plans on public social networking sites - burglars can use any information you post on there to their advantage.