JOHANNESBURG - Criminals never go on holiday and are always scouting for the next opportunity to separate you from your hard-earned cash and valuables.

Afrikaans insurance brand Virseker urges you to be vigilant, particularly when visiting a favourite “shopping mall” for criminals: the beach.

“Cellphones, tablets, cameras, wallets, jewellery, sunglasses and accessories such as beach chairs and umbrellas offer valuable pickings for criminals who would like to make a quick buck,” says Elmarie Twilley, a spokesperson for Virseker. “This could see your holiday going from delight to disaster in no time.”

Virseker offers the following tips to avoid becoming a crime victim:

• Only take what you need. Don’t take a wallet or purse with all your credit cards and a large amount of cash, along with valuable possessions and important documents, such as your identity document. 

• Use the public safes available at many holiday hotspots.

• Pick a spot close to the life guards or beach patrol – this will be a deterrent for would-be criminals. If you drive to the beach, park your car in a well-guarded area.

• Keep an eye on your valuables at all times, but keep them out of sight of others. Never leave valuables unattended.

• Invest in anti-theft beach bags or a waterproof pouch that you can take with you when you go swimming.

• Swim in shifts: take turns going into the water, so that someone is always available to keep an eye on your belongings.

• Be wary of strangers who randomly talk to you, or bump into you in a crowd. They may be trying to distract you so they can steal your belongings.

• Get to know the people who are sitting near you so that you can ask them to look after your valuables if need be, and so that you are on your guard when an unfamiliar person is lurking in the area.

- PERSONAL FINANCE ONLINE