Alarm bells ring over purse snatches

SHOPPERS in Chelmsford are being advised to keep an ear out for their purses and wallets - by attaching bells to them.Last weekend, a number of local people and visitors had their purses snatched from their handbags from various locations around the town centre.

By Roddy Ashworth

SHOPPERS in Chelmsford are being advised to keep an ear out for their purses and wallets - by attaching bells to them.

Last weekend, a number of local people and visitors had their purses snatched from their handbags from various locations around the town centre.

Now crime reduction officers have advised that the use of bells, similar to those attached to some pet cats, can serve as both as a reminder as well as an alert.


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And as part of a new initiative, the free bells are being issued by officers to shoppers in the town centre.

They can be fastened to the zips of purses, wallets or handbags.

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The bells - which are also available from Neighbourhood Watch - serve as a reminder to owners to secure their purses properly after paying for goods and also act as a deterrent to thieves.

On Saturday, eight purses were stolen from shoppers, with cash and bankcards being taken. In most cases the purses were stolen from inside handbags but officers stressed that it is important to remember that men's wallets are also at risk.

Crime reduction officer Trisha Staerck said: “Remember to keep your bags securely closed and don't leave them unattended.

“In particular, shoppers should refrain from hanging their handbags from the hooks on shopping trolleys as these become an easy target for thieves."

She added that people should keep their bags with them at all times, preferably over the shoulder and across the body.

And she stressed people should not leave them in shopping trolleys as thieves only need a couple of seconds to strike while shoppers are busy looking for items on the shelves.

Town Centre Manager Cathy MacBride said: “Chelmsford has always been a safe place to shop and we want to keep it that way.

“Should you see anything suspicious please notify the shop staff and call the police.”

For further information, contact Crime Reduction Officer Trisha Staerck on 01245 212548 or 07973 380833.

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