Beware of pickpockets and bag dippers while Christmas shopping, warns police

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WARWICKSHIRE Police is reminding everyone to take extra care of their wallets, purses and handbags whilst shopping for Christmas presents.

Now the countdown to Christmas Day has begun, many are busy buying presents for friends and loved ones. Unfortunately it can also be a lucrative time for pickpockets and bag dippers who can take advantage of the hustle and bustle of town centres and the distracted shopper.

George Stepney, Crime Prevention Manager for Warwickshire Police said: “Warwickshire Police wants everyone to have a happy, crime free Christmas. Protecting your belongings in crowded environments will help reduce the risk of having to cancel credit cards, replace keys, change locks and all the inconvenience and distress associated with having your bag, purse or wallet stolen.

“We would like to make it clear to criminals that shoplifting and the theft of personal belongings will not be tolerated. We will continue to work closely with partners to prevent and disrupt criminal activity and further protect communities from harm.”

Police advise shoppers and anyone else who finds themselves in crowded places, to follow the below crime prevention advice.

Carry your wallet in an inside pocket, preferably one that has a zip or a button closure. Never put your wallet or purse in your back pocket.

Make sure your handbag is securely closed at all times and your purse is placed near the bottom of the bag.

Do not put bags on the floor or purses on stall tables or shop counters when paying for goods. In a busy shop or market they can be taken in an instant.

Always make sure you replace your purse or wallet safely when you have finished a transaction. Do this whilst still in the shop and do not attempt to secure your purse or wallet in the street. At shop checkouts do not feel pressured to leave the counter until you have secured all your money, cards and goods – even if there is a big queue behind you.

If possible keep you credit cards in a holder separate to you purse and wallet. Do not write down your PIN number anywhere.

Be aware of people standing near you at the cash point. Cover the number pad when you enter your PIN and put your money away safely before moving away from the machine.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. Use a payment card or take money from the cash point in smaller amounts, returning to withdraw more if you need to.

Make sure that the zip or clasp to your handbag is fastened securely.

Don’t leave purses, wallets or bags unattended for even a second, whether on a supermarket trolley, or on a counter while paying for goods.

Check your receipt at point of purchase to ensure that cash back you have not requested hasn’t been added to your shop.

Try to avoid carrying too many bags. The more you have the more vulnerable you are as you try to keep check of all your bags and belongings.

Officers are also asking party goers to be wary of bag thiefs at night too after a grey handbag left under a coat on a table in Lloyds No 1, Rugby was stolen when the owner left it to join her friends on the dance floor. The theft occured sometime between 10.30 and 11pm on Saturday, December 10.

If you have any information relating to a crime, please call Warwickshire Police on 01926 415000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.