Britons on holiday 'easy prey' for thieves

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The Independent Online
BRITISH holidaymakers are 'easy pickings' for thieves abroad, it was claimed yesterday. They carry far more cash than they would dream of doing at home, take few steps to safeguard it and have a 'devil may care' attitude towards possessions.

A survey by Home and Overseas, Britain's largest travel insurer, says tourists' 'appalling disregard' of the risks they take helps to explain the recent rise in theft in foreign, particularly southern European, resorts. It found that one in seven holidaymakers had been robbed abroad in the past three years.

Claims against insurers have risen 20 per cent over the past two years and are running at more than 400,000 a year. Yet despite the spread of the credit card, one in three tourists carries more than pounds 300 in sterling and foreign notes. Fewer than one-third use a money belt and 70 per cent keep their money in pockets and handbags.

Forty per cent say they they leave their belongings unsupervised on the beach or by the pool - one of the commonest causes of theft, according to the company.

The survey of 500 people is claimed to be the first to examine how tourists spend and look after their money. The holiday market has recovered since the depth of the recession in 1991 and the British are 'as extravagant as ever', one-third of them spending twice as much as they would have done at home.

One in five holidaymakers takes more than pounds 1,500 in cash and travellers' cheques, three times the limit on most insurance policies. Only half use a hotel safe and a quarter leave cash and valuables in a drawer, under their bed or in a bag. Yet nearly 70 per cent say they are only 'slightly concerned' at being robbed.