The Crime Prevention Website

Love it or loath it, shopping at Christmas for most of us will be a crime free experience this year, so long as we keep our guard.

I was reminded of the heightened risks at this time of year when I visited the West End of London with my guests last weekend.  The crush, the hustle and bustle and barely moving pedestrian traffic outside Hamleys toy shop in Regent Street (as just one example) was providing the perfect setting for pick-pocketing and bag theft. But as I looked around at the ample opportunities for thieving I did wonder how many of the shoppers were even thinking about these possibilities.  

Having spent some of my police service in that part of London I can assure you that the thieves are very much aware of the opportunities to make some serious cash at this time of year and they travel from all over the country, Europe and even further afield to be part of this annual theft fest

So, what are we to do?  What’s the advice?  Well, apart from just being aware of the heightened risks at this time of year, here are my simple Twelve Tips for a Safe Shop at Christmas. You know it makes sense....


  • If driving to the shops, keep your doors locked and park in a well lit and busy street
  • If using a car park choose one that is accredited by the police to the Safer Car Parking scheme standards and shows the ‘Park Mark®’ logo
  • Put your shopping in the boot; don’t leave a thing on view in the car More advice


  • Keep a handbag zipped up or with the flap secured and carry it in front of you with your arm or hand over the top
  • Consider the use of a bum-bag (worn under your coat) to carry your cash and or cards or split the cash and cards between the two bags
  • If shopping with your partner split the cash and cards between you
  • Wallets should be in front trouser/jean pockets or inside jacket pockets. You too could split cash and cards
  • When walking through densely packed crowds of people ladies should take a tight hold of their handbags and gents should put a hand on their wallets
  • When having a coffee or some lunch DO NOT HANG YOUR BAG ON THE BACK OF A CHAIR. Put it on the floor in front of you and even put your leg through the strap. If the restaurant/bar has provided under-table security clips, do use them
  • Be very aware of your surroundings and people nearby when using Cash machines and Card payment machines. ALWAYS shield the keypad with your spare hand when inputting your PIN More advice
  • If you have a choice, shop during daylight hours (although you might want to see the Christmas lights, of course!)


  • If using your mobile phone try not to lose complete awareness of your surroundings and, if you can, stand with your back against a shop window and periodically look up. More advice
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