Redditch Campaign Aims To Reduce Purse And Bag Thefts
An annual campaign aiming to reduce the number of purse and handbag thefts in Redditch is being launched tomorrow, Friday, 2 November.
Operation Vermont will run until New Year's Eve, and will include high visibility patrols by police and community support officers who will be raising awareness among shoppers, as well as identifying possible offenders.
PC Adrian Corrigan, from Redditch town centre Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "We will be giving out leaflets and lanyards which shoppers can use to attach their purses to their bags.
"Nineteen thefts were recorded between October and December last year, an increase on the 11 reported in 2010 and 13 in 2009, but a significant reduction on 2007 when there were 31 and 2008 when there were 33.
"Victims are often vulnerable people, such as the elderly and disabled, and hotspots last year included chain stores in the Kingfisher Centre and charity shops on Church Green.
"As well as giving out crime prevention advice and looking out for known offenders or people acting suspiciously, officers will be carrying Shopwatch radios, which will enable them to stay in close contact with store staff and Kingfisher Centre security.
"While we don't want to alarm people as the number of purse thefts in Redditch is relatively low, nationally there is a rise in this time of crime in the run up to Christmas as stores are more crowded, giving thieves more opportunities to strike.
"However there are a number of common sense precautions people can take to protect their cash, such as keeping bags zipped up, and we will be raising people's awareness of this."
Thefts usually happen when the victims are distracted, brushed against or bumped into. Offenders may engage them in conversation or stand particularly close to them.
- Keeping purses out of sight in an inside coat pocket. If using a handbag, keep it fastened or zipped at all times.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and never keep PIN numbers with bank cards.
- Being vigilant and aware of who is around, and particularly when withdrawing cash at a post office or cash machine.
- Never leave purses or bags unattended on a trolley, pushchair or wheelchair, even for a few seconds.
Anyone with information about purse thefts is asked to contact West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Issued: Thursday, 1 November 2012