Call for vigilance following spate of purse theft incidents
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Police are urging Christmas shoppers to be vigilant following purse thefts in Macclesfield, Nantwich, Sandbach, Crewe and Northwich.
A total of six women have had their purses stolen from the Cheshire towns over the past week. All of the victims are over 60 and one is 90.
In the majority of the cases, bank cards within the purses were subsequently fraudulently used by the thieves.
Superintendent Pete Crowcroft said: “The incidents occurred in Macclesfield and Nantwich on Thursday 10 December, in Sandbach on Tuesday 8 December and in Crewe, Nantwich and Northwich on Friday 4 December.
“Victims were targeted in supermarkets, as they queued up to use cash machines and as they were walking around shopping areas.
“Some were distracted and some were bumped into before realising that their purses had been stolen.
“Others have no idea how their purses were stolen from them.
“This type of crime tends to be more prevalent in the run up to Christmas, with busy shopping areas representing an ideal opportunity for thieves to strike.
“Enquiries in relation to the incidents are ongoing and I urge anyone with any information regarding purse thefts to get in touch.
“I also encourage everyone, particularly the elderly as purse thieves usually target the elderly, to be extra vigilant when you are out over the Christmas shopping period and to never carry around large quantities of cash.
“Please also keep an eye out for suspicious activity when you are in or around shops and report any concerns to us.”
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “These cruel thieves are clearly targeting vulnerable people in our communities whilst they go about their Christmas shopping.
“This despicable crime not only has a financial impact on its victims, it can also affect their confidence when out and about in the community after many of them have been stuck at home for the majority of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I urge people to follow Cheshire Constabulary’s advice on protecting themselves and their belongings.”
There are a few simple precautions people can take to deter opportunistic thieves:
- Walk with a sense of purpose when in or near to shops
- Carry your purse in a zipped-up bag, and always keep the bag close to you and where you can see it
- Attach an audible alarm to your purse/wallet, such as purse bells
- Never leave your bag in a shopping trolley or basket
- Make sure that you are not followed or engaged in conversation by someone who might be looking for an opportunity to steal from you.
Anyone with any information or footage regarding purse thefts is asked to call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, give the details via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.