Police warn of the festive thieves

PUBLISHED: 16:11 23 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

SHOPPERS are being warned by police to watch out for pick-pockets and distractions at cash machines in St Albans. Police Inspector Richard Johnson said he expected a seasonal increase in purse-dipping as people hit the shops over the festive period and is

SHOPPERS are being warned by police to watch out for pick-pockets and distractions at cash machines in St Albans.

Police Inspector Richard Johnson said he expected a seasonal increase in purse-dipping as people hit the shops over the festive period and is urging people to keep alert.

He said: "Every offence has a victim with a negative experience. We want to change this by educating the public not to allow themselves to become a victim in the first place and making sure purse-dippers are unwelcome by dealing with them robustly.

"Often people don't realise they have had their purses stolen until they get home or need to use their purses and so we have a very limited description of the offenders.

He added: "It is not just purse-dippers that we have to be more aware of. Thieves will also try to distract shoppers at cash machines by, for example, asking if they have dropped a £5 note."

He emphasised that it was important to cover up PIN numbers and he asked people to keep a look out for the elderly and vulnerable who were usually targeted.

Inspector Johnson also said that the police expected more shoplifting offences this week and they would be working with St Albans Business Against Crime and CCTV operators, as well as using tactics such as uniformed and plain-clothes police presence.

He added: "I would like to reassure St Albans residents that we are working hard to catch purse dippers, shoplifters and distraction burglars at cash machines to keep St Albans town centre an even safer place to be."

Any suspicious behaviour should be reported on 0845 33 00 222. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.

Police have advised shoppers to adopt the following crime prevention advice:

* Think about putting your purse in a front pocket rather than in an open bag.

* Men should also keep their wallet in a front pocket rather than in their back pocket.

* Use a handbag that can be closed properly so that it is more difficult for someone to open it and reach in.

* Keep your handbag in front of you so you can see it at all times.

* If you use a handbag with a strap, wear it across your body and not just over one shoulder.

* If you do keep your purse in a shopping bag, put your purse at the bottom and not near the top and use a shopping bag that can be closed.

* Be as secure with your mobile phone as you would your purse or wallet and ensure it is put away safely if you use it in the street.

* Be aware of the people immediately around you.

* Report incidents straight away.

For further crime prevention advice contact your local Crime Prevention Officer,

Gerett Wright on 01727 796020, or visit www.herts.police.uk

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Herts Advertiser