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Reminder to be vigilant following spate of purse dipping offences

6 Dec 2018
  • Police are urging the public to be vigilant following a spate of purse dipping offences in Bishop’s Stortford.

  • Five incidents have been reported to police since November 16.

  • Offenders often use distraction techniques so that they can secretly snatch bags and purses.

  • Shoppers can follow some simple crime prevention advice to help reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

Police are urging people to be vigilant following a spate of purse dipping offences in Bishop’s Stortford.

Incidents of offenders using distraction techniques to steal bank cards from purses and handbags have been reported to police.

  • On Monday, December 3 at around 2.45pm, a woman’s purse was stolen from her handbag while she was in the Isabel Hospice shop in Bridge Street. Two female offenders had blocked her way in an aisle with one of the woman standing in front of her and the other behind. A short while later the victim realised her purse was missing. (Crime reference 41/56838/18)


  • On Thursday, November 29 between 3.15pm and 3.30pm, a woman’s purse was stolen from her handbag while she was sitting outside Alberts Coffee Shop in Thorley Neighbourhood Centre. The victim believes a man distracted her by asking for a lighter. (Crime reference 41/60920/18)


  • On Thursday, November 29 at 10.45am, a woman’s bank cards were stolen from her handbag, which was in the passenger side seat of her car, during a distraction theft where a man approached her in the Thorley Centre car park by Sainsbury’s and asked her for directions on a map he was carrying. She later noticed that the passenger door of her car had been opened. (Crime reference 41/60885/18)


  • On Sunday, November 25 at around 11pm, a handbag was stolen when it was left on a chair in the Star Inn, Bridge Street. The victim’s bank card was subsequently used by the offender(s). (Crime reference 41/59562/18)


  • On Friday, November 16 at around 3pm, two bank cards were stolen from a woman’s purse in Waitrose, Northgate End. The cards were subsequently used by the offenders before they were cancelled by the victim. (Crime reference 41/59562/18)

Sergeant Mark Collins from the Bishop’s Stortford Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “The December festive rush is the perfect time for thieves to target busy shoppers who may have their minds on other things such as ensuring everyone gets what they are hoping for this Christmas. The last thing anyone wants to find is that their bank cards have been stolen and used illegally by offenders and there are a few simple steps that you can follow to help reduce the chances of becoming a victim:

  • Use a handbag that can be closed properly, preferably with a zip so that it is difficult for someone to open and reach in.
  • If you use a handbag with a strap, wear it across your body and not just over one shoulder so it is more secure.
  • Don't leave your handbag tucked under your chair or table where someone can grab it.
  • Consider using a purse lanyard which attaches your phone or purse/wallet to your bag or clothes.
  • If you do keep your purse in a shopping bag, put your purse at the bottom and not near the top, and use a shopping bag that can be closed if possible.
  • Be as secure with your mobile phone or iPod as you would your purse or wallet and ensure it is put away safely if you use it in the street. You can also register your valuables on the free online property database That way, police have more chance of being able to return them to you if they're lost or stolen.
  • Men should keep their wallet in a front pocket rather than in their back pocket, making it harder for a thief to slip their hand in unnoticed.
  • Report any incidents straight away by calling the non-emergency number 101 or report information online. If a crime is in progress of the offenders are still in the local area always dial 999.

“If you believe you witnessed any of the crimes listed above or have information that may help us with our enquiries please contact police by calling the non-emergency number 101, quoting the relevant crime number, or report details online.”


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