Campaign aims to break bad lockdown habits

March 11, 2021 BY

In this CCTV footage, a criminal uses an angle grinder to cut through a bike lock.

THIEVES, burglars, and small-time crooks are the focus of a new campaign encouraging Victorians to break bad habits formed during the COVID lockdown.

‘Breaking Bad Habits’ is a joint Crime Stoppers and Victoria Police campaign encouraging Surf Coast, Geelong and Bellarine residents to practice good safety habits to prevent theft as they return to workplaces.

Police warned that with up to 75 per cent of workers now permitted to return to the office, this could be the first time in 12 months that homes will be empty.

Crime Stoppers Victoria chief executive officer Stella Smith said not locking up our homes, cars and bicycles presented criminals with an easy opportunity.

“It would be nice to live in a world where we don’t have to lock anything, but the reality is quite different, and we do need to protect ourselves and our property.

“At Crime Stoppers we have seen countless CCTV images of thieves using credit cards they have stolen from parked cars.”

“Don’t wait until your wallet is stolen from the ‘hiding place’ in your car. Always take the wallet with you.”

Ms Smith said the best way to overcome a bad habit was to replace it with a good one.

“Take your wallet with you instead of hiding it in your car and always lock up your bicycle on a parking rack in a secure, visible area,” she said.

Private investigator Keith Schafferius has more than 50 years’ experience catching criminals, he has worked undercover, in disguise, and caught crooks all over the world.

He said in these COVID times, some people are down on their luck and will resort to almost anything.

“People are desperate, they are short of money – some haven’t had income for a long time and if there is an opportunity, they will take it,” he said.

Mr Schafferius said COVID had created a new class of petty thieves and opportunists.

“People who have never done this sort of thing before … they will take stuff that’s easy to dispose of like laptops and iPhones and it’s difficult to get those sorts of items back,” he said.

But it’s not just office worker’s homes that could be vulnerable, you may need to keep half an eye on your colleagues too, as Mr Schafferius expects to see a spike in white collar crime.

“While some people might still have a job, they might take the opportunity to get something better,” he said.

Mr Schafferius recently nabbed an office worker who stole almost $2 million from his company through inflated printer charges.

Whether planning a large heist or a taking a few extra pens from an unguarded stationary cupboard, Mr Schafferius’ message to crooks is clear.

“It isn’t worth it, you will get caught; with today’s modern technology Big Brother is always watching,” he said.

If you see suspicious activity in your community, let Crime Stoppers know by phoning 1800 333 000 or by submitting a report online at crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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