Christmas is always an expensive time of year. It’s when many of us like to indulge our loved ones with special gifts, and take great pleasure in the social traditions and festivities connected to the season. So it’s also when you’re more likely to feel the squeeze. Just make sure it’s not in the arms of a pseudo friendly ‘hugger mugger’.
A hugger… what?
The nickname ‘hugger mugger’ was first coined by Scotland Yard to refer to the growing number of criminals targeting people on nights out (particularly the worse for wear). They pretend to befriend their victims, often with a matey hug, before making off with their valuables; including wallets, but also expensive jewellery and high-end wristwatches. The friendly distraction technique means that many people do not realise what’s happened until afterwards.
The trend was first detected in 2011 when a spate of more than 160 cases was reported in West London, with Mayfair being the worst affected. Since then, such attacks have continued, spreading to other cities around the country, including Manchester and Liverpool.
Watch your watch
‘Hugger muggers’ are reported to often target people who are more smartly dressed. Earlier this year, a 24-year old student in Central London (Regents Street) lost consciousness whilst locked in the arms of his attacker, before having his £5,000 Rolex Submariner snatched from his wrist.
In 2012 the London Metropolitan Police seized 250 luxury watches, worth at least £1.5 million, in a raid on an unlicensed pawnbroker’s in Westminster. Many of the models recovered (including brands like Rolex, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller and Breitling) were thought to be the result of recent ‘hugger-muggings’ carried out in the area.
What to watch out for
Christmas is, of course, the time when city centres reach their busiest, with parcel-laden shoppers by day, and with people enjoying a festive tipple (or two) by night. Whilst having fun, it’s also important to stay safe. Basic rules apply: always remain alert to your surroundings, and avoid travelling alone or coming into close contact with strangers.
What else can you do?
Small items such as jewellery and wristwatches are easy targets for street crime. If you do own expensive items such as these (or are planning on treating someone special to one this Christmas), ensuring that the possession is appropriately insured is important. Assetsure offers a range of standalone policies for watches and jewellery that provide specialist cover against damage, loss or theft (including by ‘hugger-muggers’).