As the last minute Christmas shopping frenzy reaches fever pitch, police have advised the public to take extra care with their valuables when out and about.
Throughout December shopping areas will be more crowded than usual with people busy shopping for Christmas presents and stocking up on food and drinks, but often forgetting about looking after hard-earned valuables.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: "With people thinking of everything else, they may fall easy prey to opportunist thieves, but by taking a few simple precautions the chance of becoming a victim of crime can be significantly reduced."
They went on to highlight that when Christmas shopping people should:
- Keep wallets or purses in a safe place, ideally in an inside pocket of jacket or coat with the zip or button done up.
- Make sure to carry your chequebook and cheque guarantee card separately, don't keep them together in your handbag or wallet.
- Don't carry large amounts of cash. Use a payment or credit card if possible or if you are paying by cash only take out reasonable amounts of money from the cash point and return for more when you need it.
- If you are carrying a handbag, keep it fastened and tucked under your arm or with the strap across your body. Be particularly aware if the bag has a long strap that it doesn't get pulled away from you in a crowd.
- Don't leave purses or bags unattended even for a second, whether on a supermarket trolley or on the shop counter.
- At sales counters make sure you take a few seconds to put your money and cards safely away in handbags or inside pockets before moving from the counter.
- Remember that leaving valuable items on display in their car is an invitation for thieves.
- If you have a lot of shopping to do and need to take some back to the car before making more purchases make sure you leave someone with the car.
- Thieves go Christmas shopping too - but they go looking in people's cars for their gifts.
- Keep your car park ticket in a separate place to your keys. If your bag is stolen with the keys and the car park ticket inside - it may help a thief to locate your car.