Warning about rise in 'dippings' in St Albans city centre

Daisy Cooper MP talking to PC Toby George in St Albans city centre.

Daisy Cooper MP talking to PC Toby George in St Albans city centre. - Credit: Ali Newcombe

Purse-dippers are on the rise in St Albans city centre - and shoppers are warned to be extra vigilant, especially on market days.

The crime is now occurring on average once a day, with the majority of victims elderly and considered to be vulnerable by offenders.

Local MP Daisy Cooper met with PC Toby George, part of the St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team, to discuss the increased number of incidents.

PC George said: “The offenders often observe the withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs and follow the victims, waiting for an opportunity to steal the money from the victims’ bag or pocket.

"Normally, the victims are unaware that the money has been stolen until they return home or enter a shop and attempt to pay for an item. Therefore, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of where the money was stolen.

“St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Teams are proactively patrolling the city centre on a daily basis and work with banks and we have covert officers looking out for anyone trying to commit any offences.

"Following these efforts, within recent months, St Albans police have been successful in identifying, arresting and charging offenders targeting vulnerable individuals within the city centre.

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“While the CCTV within St Albans city centre is excellent, we are having difficulties in identifying some of the offenders as the majority are not local to St Albans and are entering to commit these offences.

“All lines of enquiries are being followed and we are liaising with the banks, the council and local CCTV, in order to reduce the amount of dippings within St Albans and protect vulnerable members of the public.”

Daisy Cooper MP with one of the ‘anti-dipping bags’ designed to be worn under clothing

Daisy Cooper MP with one of the ‘anti-dipping bags’ designed to be worn under clothing. - Credit: Ali Newcombe

Daisy added: “It’s shocking to hear how frequently dipping is happening in the city centre but it’s great to see the local police taking action and spreading awareness so that local residents can take more precautions.

"We’ve all heard about this sort of practice before, but it’s not nice to think that it’s happening in the district so regularly or that older people tend to be targeted, especially when coming out of banks.

“Also, the police are now providing anti-dipping bags which you can put valuables in, put around your neck and wear under your clothes, free of charge. I would encourage people to take up this offer by emailing toby.george@herts.police.uk.

“So please everyone – be vigilant about dipping, and make sure that older or more vulnerable
friends and family are also aware of the dangers when they’re out and about.”