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Thieves most likely to target hi-tech gadgets, insurers warn

With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, retailers will be enjoying busier stores and higher takings, but should also be showing increased vigilance to the threat posed by thieves and burglars.

Recent research has suggested that hi-tech gadgets and electronic items are among the most attractive targets for criminals at this time of year, so businesses specialising in these items should be placing a particularly strong focus on security.

Insurance provider Aviva released a report highlighting the significant changes in the most stolen Christmas items over the past decade.

In 2004, the top target for thieves was the Sony PlayStation 2 games console, but in 2014 it was the Apple iPhone 5S smartphone.

The 2004 list was dominated by video games and DVDs, but in 2014 criminals were much more interested in portable, high-value items such as iPads and the Apple MacBook Pro and HP Kerropi laptops.

While the figures focused on household robberies, businesses and retailers face just as high a risk from the fact that opportunistic thieves are targeting what Aviva described as "smaller but more expensive swag".

Furthermore, the extreme popularity of smartphones, tablets and laptops as Christmas gifts means companies will have higher volumes of these items in warehouses and stores, which could mean more opportunities for criminals.

Simon Warsop, Aviva's chief underwriting officer, said: "The past ten years have seen a big change in the type and cost of presents given at Christmas. Expensive phones, tablets and laptops are now the must-have items. But this kind of high-value, small-size tech is exactly what thieves are looking for."

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has also issued warnings about the increased risk of theft at this time of year.

It cited figures showing that shoppers are set to spend an average of £3,500 on presents this Christmas, which will mean high volumes of cash going in and out of store registers and being deposited at the bank.

The ABI underlined the importance of basic security precautions over the Christmas period, such as keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity, particularly when stock deliveries or cash movements are taking place.

Laura Hughes, ABI's policy adviser for general insurance, said: "Thieves love Christmas and are on the lookout for easy festive targets. Popular gifts such as smartphones, tablets and digital gadgets will be top of a thief's Christmas list.

"By taking extra care and keeping vigilant you can ensure that you do not remember Christmas for all of the wrong reasons."

Retailers and other businesses that want to maximise their protection at high-risk times can look into steps such as temporarily increasing their insurance cover.

It is also worth considering investment in additional services such as manned guarding, mobile security and expert consultancy, which will ensure your business is fully protected for the Christmas period and also give you peace of mind.

Posted by Andrew Miller

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