Headlines: September 29th, 2004

Key workers like firemen, nurses and teachers are an easy target for thieves according to new research today that shows theft in the workplace has cost Britain’s public service workers an estimated 96 million pounds over the last three years.The research from the insurance group Zurich shows that personal theft while at work is a problem for key workers because of the public nature of their jobs. The study shows that one in twenty of those surveyed had had a personal item stolen.

The most likely victims are nurses with nine per cent reporting thefts. Seven per cent of teachers had been targeted by thieves while at school. The most common stolen items are purses and wallets closely followed by mobile phones and handbags. The average value of property stolen from public service workers either at work or from their cars while they were at work was 244 pounds.

The study shows that only a third of respondents had insurance to cover them for theft at work, while a similar number were unsure whether or not they had cover. Less than a quarter of nurses have insurance cover for personal belongings stolen at work, in spite of being the group at highest risk from thieves.

The study shows that public service workers are taking steps to reduce the risk of theft. Almost half of those questioned said they no longer took valuables into work. A quarter remove jewellery before a shift and a fifth leave their credit and debit cards at home. There is also evidence that employers are taking the issue more seriously with 64 per cent installing coded doors and more than half requiring security passes. Just over half of workplaces now have security cameras but in spite of these steps less than one in seven culprits are caught.

Vanessa Brindley, from Zurich said vigilance and not taking valuable items into work or leaving them lying around was vital but workers should have somewhere secure to store personal items.