St Albans shoppers urged to be vigilant after spate of thefts

Herts Police are warning shoppers in St Albans

Herts Police are warning shoppers in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Thieves operating in St Albans city centre have been targeting their victims with a range of diversion tactics, prompting police to warn shoppers to be on the alert in the lead-up to Christmas.

PC Ben Kirby, St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team, said there have been six thefts in the past week with purses, bank cards, jewellery and mobile phones stolen from shoppers’ pockets or handbags.

The brazen thefts occurred in the high street and at supermarkets in the city.

Thieves have distracted their victims by showing them a map and asking for directions, while stealing items from handbags and pockets - particularly near cash machines.

They have also placed worthless items of jewellery around victims’ necks as a ‘thank you’ while removing more expensive jewellery pieces shoppers were wearing.

Bags left unattended for short periods of time, for example in trolleys, have been targeted by thieves as well.

PC Kirby said: “With the busy Christmas shopping period upon us it’s easy to be distracted and less aware of those around you, making this an ideal time for opportunist thieves to strike.”

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He assured shoppers that while the police are “doing all we can” to catch the thieves, people also need to be vigilant.

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to contact PC Kirby via the non-emergency number 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

To limit the chance of becoming a victim of theft, Herts Police recommends:

• Use a handbag that can be closed properly, preferably zipped up

• Never leave your bag unattended

• Men should keep their wallets in a front pocket

• Never keep your PIN number in your purse or wallet

• Always look around when approaching and using the cash point - if you see anyone acting suspiciously, call the police or a bank official