Shoppers warned over purse snatches

SHOPPERS are today being urged to be vigilant following a flurry of purse thefts in town centres in Suffolk.

SHOPPERS are today being urged to be vigilant following a flurry of purse thefts in town centres in Suffolk.

In November, 29 purses and bags were stolen, mostly in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Stowmarket.

The majority of thefts have been of purses from women's handbags, although a number of purses and bags were also stolen from shopping trolleys and pushchairs.

Dave Gilson, senior crime reduction officer at Suffolk police, said: “As town centres get busier with Christmas shoppers, the number of purse thefts has also risen.

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“Opportunist thieves are targeting vulnerable people, whether they are elderly or distracted with children, or just those who are happy to help someone in a shop. We would ask shoppers to be on their guard.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy their festive shopping in west Suffolk - if bags are kept secure and on your person it will be much harder for an opportunist thief to ruin your Christmas.”

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Officers have issued the following guidelines to help keep your belongings safe:

Always keep your bag on your person and the top secured with a zip.

Wear a shoulder bag across the front of your body.

Never leave your bag unattended on a trolley or pushchair, or on the floor as you look at items in shops or are seated.

Don't carry around large sums of money or valuables.

Don't keep your PIN with your bank cards - if a thief takes this they may be able to access your bank account before you can cancel your cards.

Use a purse bell, which will alert you and others if someone tries to remove your purse from your bag. These are available from your local police station or Safer Neighbourhood Team.

The Forest Heath Crime Prevention Panel has also funded a limited number of anti-purse theft lanyards which are available from Pc Kevin Green at the Newmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team.

If someone asks for your help in a shop, only give it if you are happy to. If you do help someone, keep hold of your bag at all times. If someone pushes or bumps into you, check your bag immediately.

If you find your purse or bag has been stolen, call police and cancel bank cards and mobile phones. A call to police as soon as the theft has been discovered may enable CCTV operators to scan the area for the offender.

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