Rise in passport thefts from hire cars sparks official warning

Rise in passport thefts from hire cars sparks official warning
An official campaign has been launched to encourage holidaymakers to be extra vigilant while they are away after a rise in the number of passports stolen from hire cars.

As part of its #PassportAware initiative, the Government has put together a series of short films to raise awareness of the different methods used by thieves to steal passports.

In total, more than 21,000 British passports were lost or stolen last year, with consulates around the world reporting a rise in thefts of valuables from hire cars.

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As a result, over 30,000 emergency travel documents (ETDs) were issued in 2015 to British tourists who find themselves stranded abroad without a passport.

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But the figures show that this comes at a cost, with the price of ETDs and new passports for two adults equivalent to two additional nights in a mid-range hotel and two meals a day in Tenerife.

It is now hoped the videos released as part of the new campaign will alert the public to the crime of passport theft, known as passport hustling.

The films all feature fraud and stealth crime expert James Freedman demonstrating some of the techniques used by criminals to steal travel documents.

In a statement, the Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “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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Offering additional advice, the FCO says that holidaymakers need to be aware of both their surroundings and strangers.

It advises making two photocopies of your passport, one of which can be left with friends or family and the other taken with you.

Tourists should also check that the emergency details and the next of kin pages of their passport have been completed.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, 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.”

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