Coronavirus crime trends and scams to look out for


For people living in the UK, the coronavirus outbreak has led to significant changes to daily life. From school closures and a major shift to remote working, to an end to all nonessential travel and strict social distancing measures, the impact is being felt at every level.

But for one element of society, it remains business as usual. For would-be criminals, a global pandemic is nothing more than an opportunity and almost daily we are hearing about new virus-related crimes and scams.

So, how are these masters of adaptation looking to capitalise on the current lockdown? Here we take a closer look at some of the emerging crime trends and how to reduce the risk of you or your business becoming a victim.


Police issue warnings over empty business premises

Police forces across the country have been issuing advice and guidance for businesses on how best to protect their business premises when left unoccupied. This is a result of the coronavirus leading to more properties being left empty for longer.

Hampshire is one such force that has urged local businesses to remain vigilant and review and test any security measures that are in place. They also suggest working with other local businesses, organisations and the police to maximise efforts to reduce and prevent crime

For some more top tips, see our blog: 10 steps to protecting your business premises when unoccupied


Antisocial behaviour is increasing

Reports of anti-social behaviour have increased substantially during the coronavirus outbreak, according to police stats. In the last four weeks, there were 178,000 incidents across England and Wales - a rise of nearly 60% compared to last year.

Most town and city centre shops are now closed but those selling essential items remain open. To support those retailers, deter would-be criminals from targeting empty shops and to tackle antisocial behaviour, all while helping take pressure off the police, our City Centre Security Officers continue to make daily patrols in Salisbury, Winchester and Fareham.

To find out more, read our blog: Are private security firms ’doing the job of the police?’


Opportunist thieves are targeting homes

You may assume that being at home more means the risk of a criminal targeting your property may go down. Sadly, it’s not that simple - especially with the recent warm weather the UK has been enjoying.

A recent spate of thefts in Southampton has been the result of criminals seeking out unlocked doors and windows while residents are at home and typically enjoying the good weather in the garden. They have also been targeting garages and sheds that have been left open. These crimes can take just seconds to commit and often involve items such as wallets, money, bikes, home tech and car keys.

For advice on protecting your property during warmer periods, see: Summer crime prevention advice


Rise in doorstep fraud and scams

Trading Standards Wales has said its officers are seeing new types of face-to-face and online fraud on a daily basis. All of them claiming to have something to do with coronavirus - either suggesting they are trying to give money back or offering to help someone claim money in some way.

Residents in Basingstoke have been warned to remain vigilant for doorstep fraudsters, who are targeting elderly and vulnerable households. A scammer will knock on the door and pretend they are a person in authority, such as a police officer, council, or health worker. This technique is being used to gain entry, or to distract the resident while items are stolen.

Another scam targeted at elderly residents who are isolating is to offer to pick up shopping or medication for them and to ask them to hand over their money, bank card and pin to pay for it. The scammer then empties the account and is never seen again.

Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council have both set up helplines to assist people during the pandemic, which can help residents find the support they need.


Coronavirus cyber scams

Cybercriminals have been quick to try and exploit the current situation, with scams that are being targeted at individuals as well as industries.

Some of the most common scams include text messages claiming to be from the government or HMRC, offering tax refunds or telling people they are known to have left the house and need to pay a fine. The BBC has highlighted others to look out here too.

There are also online sellers offering much-in-demand items, such as hand sanitiser, coronavirus testing kits and even vaccines, which naturally never materialise. Once the money is handed over the seller is never heard from again.

The National Crime Agency offers this advice:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.


Need professional help?

At Venture, we are supporting customers to manage the present situation in several ways. Our security officers are classed as ‘critical workers’, due to the role they play in alleviating pressure on the police and legal system. As such, we continue to provide a full range of services, 24/7, with stringent plans in place to ensure business continuity.

Two of our most popular services right now, being: Mobile Patrols and Key Holding & Alarm Response.

To find out how we could help you at this challenging time, please call us on 01264 391538 or email