Extra patrols to combat handbag thefts

By Connie Osborne Monday 05 November 2012 Updated: 08/11 13:34

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Police jacket

A RISE in purse and handbag thefts mean more police will be on the streets of the town centre in the run up to Christmas.

Between October and December last year, 19 thefts were recorded in the borough, compared to 11 in 2010.

Particular hot-spots included chain stores in the Kingfisher Centre and charity shops on Church Green. Thefts usually occur when victims are distracted, brushed against or bumped into. A particular tactic used by thieves is to start up conversations or stand particularly close to their target.

To combat the problem extra patrols by police and Community Support Officers are being carried out to spot potential offenders and leaflets will also be handed out to raise awareness as well as special cords which shoppers can use to attach their purses to their bags.

PC Adrian Corrigan, from Redditch Town Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team, said thieves often targeted vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled.

"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," he said.

"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."

Advice issued to shoppers includes keeping bags zipped up, putting purses inside coat pockets and carrying only small amounts of money.

Anyone with any information about purse thefts is urged to contact West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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