By Peter Stevenson
POLICE patrols have been increased in the run-up to Christmas and the public has been urged to be extra careful during the holiday season.
“We have already begun implementing a preventative anti-crime programme during the holiday period as we expect an increase in certain crimes like pick-pocketing in busy places like the Mall or main high-streets, car thefts, illegal gambling, begging and illegal fundraising,” police spokesman Andreas Angelides said yesterday.
He said there would be a continuous yet discreet police presence in hotspots around the island to give the public a quality service and a quick response.
“Police officers will work continuously and tirelessly with increased patrols and checks on busy streets and public places to prevent crime and on main roads, to prevent any road deaths,” he added.
Despite the increased police presence, the public has also been called on to take preventative measures of their own.
In public places, on high streets and in malls, the public is advised to keep their cash and credit cards in their front pockets and to limit the amount of cash they carry on them.
Angelides added that begging is prohibited and considered a crime.
“It is likely that beggars already receive some kind of state benefit while others may be faking any illness so they can get money from people,” he said.
The police are also calling on the public to be wary of illegal fundraising.
“Some criminals take advantage of people’s charitable nature, especially during the holidays and carry out fundraisers without the necessary permits from the interior ministry,” he said.
The current period is considered to be ‘high-risk’ for burglaries so the police have asked the public to take extra measures to safeguard their homes and property.
Those who will be away are urged not make it obvious and make sure the house is locked and cooperate with trusted neighbours so they can look after each others’ houses.
Homeowners are also warned not to leave cash, jewellery, important documents or other valuables out in the open as they can become a target for burglars. Wherever possible such items should be kept in a safe.
Shop-owners are advised to leave their tills open but without any money in it when they close up.
“They shouldn’t leave large amounts of money in unsafe places, or their property exposed and should go ahead and install an alarm system, making sure it is modern, reliable and hasn’t been damaged,” the police spokesman said.
Angelides added that car thefts continue to be a problem and reminded the public that it is a crime to leave their vehicles unlocked and with their keys on the ignition.
“The public is asked to comply fully with the law and take all necessary and reasonable measures to ensure their cars are not used by any unauthorised people,” he said.
Bags, briefcases, mobile phones, laptops or other valuables should not be left in plain sight inside a car even if it is locked, Angelides added.
“Cars should always be parked in areas where there is sufficient lighting, keys should not be left in the door or in the ignition even if they are getting out for a brief moment,” the police spokesman said.
As far as illegal gambling is concerned, Angelides said that police have increased their efforts with a number of targeted operations around the island.
Club-houses, coffee shops and betting shops will be constantly checked during the holiday season to make sure no laws are being broken.
There will also be an increase in traffic police during the holidays in an effort to make sure no lives are lost on the road.
Angelides called on the public to be extra careful during the holiday season and to cooperate with the police.