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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Police warn festive shoppers about sneak thieves in Carlisle

Police have warned against the threat of purse snatchers as shopping crowds get busier in the run-up to Christmas.

Richard Higgin photo
Richard Higgin

Officers say that in recent years there has been a rise in reports of sneak thefts, with crooks taking advantage of packed city and town centre shops to carry out their crimes.

Sergeant Richard Higgin said their main targets have been elderly people, with thieves often going into charity shops as they know pensioners are among their regular customers.

He urged people to be vigilant as the countdown continues to Christmas – and to do their best to thwart any thieves.

Sgt Higgin told the News & Star: “Traditionally as the number of shoppers increases in the run-up to Christmas we tend to get more purse thefts taking place.

“It’s easier for them to operate in crowded areas. The main targets tend to be elderly people.”

There have been two such thefts from elderly people in Carlisle city centre in recent weeks, he said.

Sgt Higgin condemned those who carried out these type of crimes, adding: “Anybody that targets elderly or vulnerable people is pretty low.

“We would warn people when they go out to make sure their bag is zipped up and around their arms.

“We would also ask people shopping in the city centre to be vigilant and careful.”

A crime-busting initiative in the city centre does aim to stop thefts in charity shops.

The “Snowball” scheme is intended to quickly raise the alarm when crimes are committed, with charity shop staff contacting other stores and the message passed on to alert workers to suspicious activity.

Sgt Higgin asked people to keep their eyes peeled as shops get busier. “If anybody sees anything suspicious they should call officers on 101,” he added.

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