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Celebrate Xmas, but be on guard

CHRISTMAS is a time for celebration, parties and having fun with family and friends. But while it may be the season of good will to all, criminals won't be taking a break.

Don't let them spoil your festive fun. Follow these few simple tips from Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue to help keep you and your property safe this Christmas.


Out shopping

Thieves find it easy to operate when the shops are busy. Be extra careful when shopping in the run up to Christmas:

* Keep your purse or wallet and mobile close to your body

* Don’t carry too much cash

* Carrying too many bags can be a distraction – make smaller shopping trips rather than doing it all at once

* If you travel by car lock all doors/windows and don’t leave belongings in view

* Try not to return to your car to drop off purchases as thieves may be on the look out

* Don't leave your bag or purse in the shopping trolley at the supermarket

* If you stop for a coffee break, remember not to leave your shopping and belongings on view the cafe floor

* Don't leave your purse or wallet on view hanging out of your back pocket or in a hand bag or backpack.


At home

Now you've spent time and money buying Christmas presents for loved ones, make sure you don't make it easy for someone to steal them.

* If you must hide presents in sheds or outbuildings, make sure they are kept secure and out of view

* Empty boxes left outside advertise your new gifts – dispose of packaging carefully  

* Note down the frame and serial numbers of new goods

* Check your insurance covers the extra value of presents


Going out

It’s a busy time of year so you're likely to be spending less time at home. Before setting out, take time to secure your property:

* Leave a light on to make it look like someone is at home

* Keep curtains closed to stop people looking in

* Be extra careful when locking doors and windows

* For UPVC doors, remember to lift up the handle and use your key to lock it properly

* As a fire precaution, switch your indoor Christmas lights off


Going on holiday

You may be excited about spending Christmas in warmer climates, but be sure leave your home safe and secure:

* Use an automatic timer for lights

* Check your fire alarm is working properly before you leave

* Ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home

* Cancel your newspaper and milk deliveries

* Ask a family member to collect your mail from the door and store away


Out on the town

In the excitement of the celebrations, the pubs, restaurants and clubs are busier. Enjoy a safe night out with these tips:

* Don’t leave bags over the back of your chair

* Keep purses and wallets and mobiles close to your body

* Be alert at all times

* Plan your journey home before you go out and never wander off on your own

* Avoid the temptation of taking a minicab if you are having difficulty getting a taxi. It's illegal for minicabs to take passengers who have not pre-booked

* Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home

* Enjoy a drink but don't making yourself an easy target by having too much