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Thefts from pubs, cafes and beaches soar as lockdown measures eased

Written by: Emma Lunn
Items such as phones, bags, laptops and bicycles are being stolen from locations such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, beaches and campsites as people enjoy more freedom.

According to figures from Aviva, thefts without forceable entry into a home increased by 44% between April and June. June also marked the sixth month in a row during which Aviva saw an increase in these types of claims.

The impacts of lockdown easing and warmer weather are also apparent when it comes to the locations of these thefts, with pubs, cafes, restaurants, beaches and camp sites all featuring prominently. In one instance, a customer reported items being stolen from their tent while they were sleeping inside.

There were also a number of incidents reported where items – often phones, bags and wallets – were taken directly out of people’s hands in the street.

Dave Lovely, Aviva General Insurance global claims director, said: “We’ve all been looking forward to being able to venture out and visit venues and locations that have been off-limits for months. Unfortunately, however, it seems thieves have been excited about this prospect too – and now they’re taking advantage of people and their belongings being accessible again.

“People are understandably glad to be out and about with fewer restrictions, but we’d urge people to stay alert while enjoying the new freedoms. A momentary lapse of attention can give thieves an unwelcome opportunity, so let’s not make it easy for them.”

Tips to avoid thefts when out and about

Consider leaving items at home. If you’re heading out, consider exactly what you need to take with you. Do you need to take a laptop, phone, wallet, tablet? If the answer is ‘no’, leave it at home – and limit the amount of cash you carry.

Use a bag with fasteners. A bag with a zip, buckles or fasteners provides a natural barrier to pick-pockets. You’re much more likely to notice if a thief attempts to get to your valuables.

Don’t leave items unattended. Sadly, even if you leave possessions for just a few seconds, they could be taken. Make sure a trusted person is watching your belongings at all times.

Use an old phone. If you have an old mobile you can take out for the day, this may be a good way to keep in touch, without putting your latest smartphone model at risk.

Make sure bikes are secured when not in use. Bicycles have become hot property during the pandemic, so always use a robust lock when leaving yours unattended.

Be mindful how you carry items: Wear a bag that crosses your body so it can’t be easily snatched and take care when using your phone in public places.

Be careful of distraction techniques: Professional thieves may try to distract you by engaging you in conversation while they – or an accomplice – makes off with your possessions.

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