Britons travelling abroad are being urged to be aware of “hustlers” who are stealing thousands of passports every year.
A new Passport Aware campaign was launched today by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as it emerged that more than 21,000 British passports were lost or stolen last year.
British consulates around the world issued more than 30,000 emergency travel documents last year, and assisted distressed British nationals who had been victims of crime, the FCO said.
The cost of emergency documents and new passports for two adults could pay for two additional nights in a mid-range hotel and two meals a day in Tenerife.
The FCO has produced a second series of short films with fraud and stealth crime expert James Freedman to raise awareness of passport hustling techniques and to educate the public on how to avoid this crime.
The videos show four techniques that thieves use to steal passports as well as tips to avoid being a victim.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Tobias Ellwood said: “While we should all enjoy our holidays, it is important that we remain vigilant about valuables – particularly passports.
“Becoming a victim of theft or losing your passport could ruin your trip and replacing a passport will cost money and valuable holiday time.
“By following the simple tips included in these videos you can minimise the risk of falling victim to thieves while abroad.”
Freedman said: “With identity theft on the rise, the actual cost of losing your passport could be thousands of pounds.
“Criminals and con-men are always evolving the tricks they use to target tourists, but a few simple precautions will really help you to stay safe.
“Only carry what you really need and keep cash and other valuables in a secure pocket or bag. Remember that if you put bags down, they should always be in your line of sight. If you don’t need your passport and other valuables when you’re out and about, leave them at the hotel. Above all, trust your instincts and be aware of anyone invading your personal space.
“There are many other ways in which thieves can target your passports and valuables, and in addition to pickpockets, many consulates worldwide have seen a rise in cases of items being taken from hire cars, such as the family of four who had their passports stolen from their hire car while they were touring the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
“Thieves anticipate items of value such as passports being left in hire cars, so don’t take any chances. Leave your passport in your hotel safe, or keep it with you and don’t give away its location.”
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