Police advice on avoiding festive theft
Police are advising the business community to step up its security in the approach to the festive period.
Detective Inspector Davy Connery of the PSNI's Crime Prevention Unit said that now was a good time for business people to ensure they had appropriate security measures in place.
He said there were "simple but very effective steps" businesses could take to ensure a crime-free Christmas and New Year, the retail trade's busiest period.
"Criminals will always try to take advantage of the high turnover of cash and valuables in outlets all over Northern Ireland," Mr Connery said.
"At this time of year you may take in more money than usual. Reduce the amount of cash you have in your tills regularly and make sure you transfer it to a safe - preferably in an occupied office.
"Have your money taken to a bank frequently by a recognised cash in transit (CIT) company. This ensures your money has the safest possible journey to your bank, reducing the risk of it being stolen."
He said traders should also consider a "safe drop" where money could be kept until it was collected.
Access could be limited to just two people, including the CIT staff. Once the money was dropped into the safe - located in a secure room - only authorised individuals would have access to it.
Mr Connery also highlighted the dangers of stolen or cloned credit cards, and thefts from cash machines with criminals using sophisticated methods including identity theft.
He said the details on these cards usually belonged to a genuine member of the public whose identity, either their name or their bank number, had been stolen along with their bank card.
"Some businesses, for example large petrol stations, have cash machines. These are another target for criminals, who have been attaching sophisticated devices that can capture a customer's card details and pin number.
"Cameras can be installed to monitor ATMs for suspicious activity. Anyone who sees someone tampering with an ATM should not approach them but call police immediately."
He advised the business community to ensure their staff did not become the target of so-called tiger kidnaps.
"A tiger kidnap is the holding of a hostage, or claim of having done so to force a person to steal cash or valuables from a business in the form of a ransom to get the hostage freed," DI Connery said.
"Businesses should ensure no-one has access to enough cash to make them an attractive target to criminals, so all cash transfers of money should be done by cash in transit firms."
He said business people should also think about using closed-circuit television systems to monitor vulnerable areas. They should also educate staff to observe and report anything unusual which may indicate a colleague was acting under duress.
For further information on Crime Prevention, call your local police on 0845 600 800, or log on to www.psni.police.uk and read the PSNI Crime Prevention section.