Epping Forest Neighbourhood Watch
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General Advice Out Shopping When the shops are crowded, the pickpocket has more chance to steal from you. If you can't arrange to shop during less busy times, make sure you stay alert and be extra careful with your wallet or purse.Too many bags you will be too busy trying to hold on to these to be aware of anyone stealing from you. You could try to make smaller shopping trips rather than do it all at once and carry too much. Have your purse/wallet close to your body and don't carry too much cash. The same applies to travelling on crowded buses or trains. If you travel by car, make sure you park in a well- lit area, lock all doors and windows and do not leave presents in view. Try not to return to your car to leave purchases in the boot before continuing with your shopping trip as thieves may well watch car parks for just such a chance. Arrange to collect heavy items from stores when you have finished all of your shopping. Always keep your chequebook and cheque card separately and never keep a note of your pin number with any of your credit or debit cards. If you need to use an ATM (cash machine), try to use one which is either inside a bank or store, or one that is in a well-lit area, away from nooks and crannies.  Be aware of who and what is close by, if the ATM looks as though it has been tampered with, do not use it (and report it to the Bank or store a.s.a.p).   Never use an ATM if someone is using a mobile phone behind you, or close by. (They could be tapping your pin number into their phone memory).  It is often a safer option to use a supermarket, shop or store that offers cash-back.
At Home Having bought all those wonderful presents, don't make it easy for someone to steal from your home. Keep them out of sight until last thing on Christmas Eve and if you 'hide' or store larger items such as bicycles in the shed or outbuildings, make sure they are very secure. Now is a good time to check that you know what you have both normally (TV, Video etc) and with the extra presents you have bought. You may well find you need to check your insurance to make sure you are covered for the value of goods in your home. Take the frame numbers of new cycles and the serial numbers of new electrical equipment for future reference. Remember, empty boxes left outside advertise that you have new goods inside - dispose of packaging carefully. If you go out for the evening - make it look like someone is at home by turning on lamps or house lights and, the radio. Don't leave curtains open so people can see your decorations as potential thieves can see in. Be extra careful about locking doors and windows. As a fire precaution, don't leave ‘Christmas lights’ on in the house whilst you are out. If you go away for the holiday period - use an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home. Don't forget to cancel newspapers and milk if you have them delivered and either redirect your mail through the Post Office or have your neighbour take mail into the house - unopened Christmas cards and mail, are a sure sign that a house is empty.
Strangers at the door
Genuine delivery personnel, usually have uniforms and liveried vehicles and should not need to come into your home. Charity collectors will have identification and will not be offended if you ask to see it. If you are not sure but want to make a donation, ask whether these can be made in other ways, perhaps through a bank.
Out on the town With office parties and general Christmas celebrations, pubs, restaurants and other venues are often crowded. Don't leave bags over the back of your chair and keep wallets and purses close to your body to make it more difficult for the pickpocket. Busy places make it easier for the sneak thief, so be alert at all times. Make prior arrangements as to how you will get home, perhaps nominating a ‘Designated Driver.’ Avoid any potential disturbances on the street. Stay with friends if you can. Avoid the temptation to take a minicab on the street even if you are having difficulty getting a cab - it is illegal for minicabs to take passengers who have not pre-booked. Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be back. Don't drink too much - you could become a target for thieves
FIRE KILLS! Test the batteries in your smoke alarm every week. Never remove them. Make sure cigarettes are put out properly. Make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency. Most fires start in the kitchen. Avoid leaving a cooker unattended. Never overload electrical sockets. Always switch Christmas lights off and unplug them before you go to bed. Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children’s reach. Never leave burning candles unattended. Decorations can burn easily so don’t attach them to lights or heaters. Store fireworks safely: Never go back to a lit firework and keep a bucket of water nearby. Take care around open fireplaces as clothes may catch fire. Take time to check on elderly relatives and neighbours this Christmas as they are at greater risk from fire.
Christmas is a good time to remind ourselves to take steps to make sure our Christmas isn't spoiled by criminals. It creates opportunities for criminals. The Hustle and bustle of town centres as we rush around, the value of the goods we buy as presents and store in our homes until the big day. We might also be more trusting and generous at Christmas when requests for charity are made, giving the unscrupulous a chance to collect for their own causes. So what can we do? The advice below is often common sense, but you might overlook it in your haste to get everything ready. Never place candles near your Christmas tree or materials that can catch light easily. Check your Christmas tree lights carry this British Safety Standard sign. Turn your lights off at the plug before you go to bed, and make sure your fire alarm batteries are working!
CYCLING This time of the year, there also seems to be an increase of cyclists, particular ones using mountain bikes, cycling along our busy or narrow roads, at dusk and after dark, without lights on their bicycles, or any attempt to wear reflective clothing. One might ask, do they not value their own, and other road users lives?
MOTORISTS Something that really does annoy me, as I drive around, is the inability of some motorists to react promptly to a change in visibility conditions. Don’t just rely upon ‘Lighting Up Times,’ if visibility deteriorates, (due to weather or other circumstances), don’t be shy: USE YOUR LIGHTS! IDS Syndrome (Indicator Deficiency Syndrome). I still notice a lack of responsible indication by some motorists before they manoeuvre their vehicles on the approach to junctions, roundabouts and other hazards. As few of us have a crystal ball, it is not always easy to anticipate the actions of other road users. The moral of this is: ‘If you have them, please use them.’
PEDESTRIANS If you are likely to be about and about at dusk or after dark, remember to wear reflective or light coloured coats / clothing and carry a torch, especially in unlit areas
Essex Trading Standards Rogue Traders-Watch their short video here.