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DMA Law: protecting personal property

By 23rd February 2016DMA LAW TEAM

We recently introduced the topic of crime and security and would like to now offer some guidelines for keeping your personal property protected.

A loss of property, financial loss or the trauma from facing a criminal can have a very negative impact on everyday life as well as personal wellbeing.

There were over 55,600 reported theft-related crimes in the UK in 2015. Statistically, that’s really a small amount, and while the chances of it happening to you are remote, there are simple things you can do to ensure you don’t become another statistic.

In this blog we look at the definitions of some crimes, along with some basic precautions you can take to help improve your personal security.


Theft is when property is taken from you without consent, with the intention of never giving it back. So many people carry hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds worth of technology around with them everywhere they go, and it makes each and every one of us a potential target.

  • Keep all of your property near your person or in a zippered bag while in public places. Don’t leave phones or your wallet on tables or unattended while at restaurants.
  • Equipping your mobile phone with a pin code, password and/or locking mechanism can help keep personal identifying information secure in the instance your device ends up in the wrong hands.
  • Make sure you know the numbers you need to call at your bank, should your wallet or purse go missing. It is crucial to get these cancelled as soon as possible.


Being robbed refers to the act of having something stolen from you by force, or by threat of force.  This crime is not only harmful as your personal property is lost, it can also be emotionally traumatising to face a thief in person, not to mention the effects of violence that might occur in a robbery.

The long-term psychological impact of a robbery can be significant. We recommend taking some precautions to ensure you don’t end up in a vulnerable situation.

  • Don’t travel in dark, deserted or potentially dangerous areas, and try to walk with others or areas with higher foot traffic.
  • Don’t carry valuables in public unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do, conceal them and keep them close to you.
  • If someone threatens you and demands you to hand over belongings, oblige. A loss of monetary possessions is easier to recover from than an injury, and is not worth risking your life.


Burglary is trespassing with intent to steal. There are some steps you can take to protect your home and property from becoming vulnerable to a burglary. The use of technology is growing more common in this area, with people able to set-up networks and webcams that enable them to keep an eye on their property via a tablet or smartphone. Alarm systems can be set to inform you by text if your alarm is going off, and it means people can feel far more in control of their home even whilst they are away. This article gives a good explanation of how technology is developing – and becoming more affordable and accessible – that lets us protect our property.

  • This may seem obvious, but it’s important to always lock all doors and windows when you leave the property. As a habit, also keep fences, sheds and gates locked, and leave your keys in a secure place, out of sight. Don’t leave keys in locks.
  • Ensure all lighting, indoor and out, is in good working order, and trim high hedges to allow better natural surveillance.
  • Remove valuables from sight and store any high value items in a safe or locked drawer.
  • If you’re going away on holiday, ask a trustworthy neighbour to watch your home, and consider leaving a light or radio on a timer to give the impression someone is still home.

Car theft

There are two different criminal threats to your vehicle: theft of property from your car and theft of the actual vehicle. Modern vehicles are harder than ever to steal without a key, so the majority of thefts of newer cars are also linked to key theft.

  • When you think about it, your car is really just a glass box. If you have something valuable, you wouldn’t leave it in a glass box, so don’t leave it in your car. Don’t keep valuables in your vehicle, and remove anything valuable from view if you must leave it in the car. Store registration documents and test certificates safely at home.
  • Prevent theft of your vehicle by keeping doors locked at all times, even while at the petrol station. Park in well-lit areas, preferably in a secure parking facility or a busier area where crime couldn’t be overlooked.
  • Store car keys (especially spares) in drawers or a safe to prevent theft of the keys – try not to keep them on a hook by the front door, for example, and always be mindful of where your keys are. Don’t make it easy for a thief.

Fraud and identity theft

  • Try to keep important documents separate: i.e. passports, credit cards, national insurance cards, driving licenses, etc. when carrying them and at home.
  • Shred all important identification or financial documents before throwing them out, as criminals could procure information from the rubbish bin.
  • Ensure your mail is secure once it’s delivered, and is not accessible through the letterbox or by other residents in an apartment building. If you don’t receive a letter that receives account details or personal information, get in touch with Royal Mail or the sender to query if it was lost or stolen.
  • Don’t give away any personal information to people calling your home, websites, or people claiming to be researchers in the street, unless you are ably to verify their identity.

We will further discuss payment security in an upcoming article.