Police warning over pickpockets

POLICE are warning everyone, particularly shoppers, to take care of their purses this summer after a spate of pickpocket incidents.In the past six months, Essex Police estimate about £70,000 was stolen by pickpockets in the county.

POLICE are warning everyone, particularly shoppers, to take care of their purses this summer after a spate of pickpocket incidents.

In the past six months, Essex Police estimate about £70,000 was stolen by pickpockets in the county.

Between April 18 and July 17 this year, 612 purse thefts were reported to police in Essex, compared to 592 for the previous three months and to 429 reported between April 18 and July 17 last year.

Harlow, with 130, and Chelmsford, with 93, are the areas seeing the highest number of purse thefts in the three months to July 17.


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Essex Police Crime Reduction Inspector Dave Northcott wants people to be more aware of their surroundings and what they do with their purse or wallet.

"Commercial premises provide the richest pickings," he explained, "and supermarkets are popular venues.

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"Pickpockets go where people gather, where their attention can be distracted and where purses are left on easy view, such as in trolleys."

Charity and discount shops are also popular places for pickpockets to lurk and victims are sometimes followed after leaving a cashpoint or post office. Cafés and pubs are also places where people are careless with their valuables.

Although anyone failing to keep an eye on their purse or wallet is at risk of becoming a victim, Insp Northcott said the typical victim was a woman aged 60.

He warned that purse thieves tended to work in teams and people could be bumped, jostled or otherwise distracted by some of the group while another did the stealing.

Leaving handbags unattended in shopping trolleys while looking for items on shelves was a popular way to attract a purse thief, said Insp Northcott.

"If someone bumps into you, check your purse and wallet immediately," he added.

Divisional figures for purse and wallet thefts between April 18 and July 17, 2005, were: Braintree 41, Chelmsford 93, Colchester 49, Tendring 36 and Stansted 23.

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