Help us to make purse dippers unwelcome in St Albans
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Make sure you zip your bags up, don’t take out large sums of money and don’t disclose your PIN number to anyone is the advice from the St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team following an increase in the number of purse dipping offences in the city centre.
St Albans Neighbourhood PC Georgia Holmes said: “Elderly and vulnerable people in the city centre are being targeted by callous thieves who ‘dip’ into a victim’s bag or pocket and steal valuable items like money, debit cards and mobile phones.
“We continue to run daily plain clothed operations and we work closely with St Albans CCTV operators at the district council, but we also need to help prevent these thefts happening in the first place by encouraging people to take on board our crime prevention advice and look out for elderly and vulnerable people.”
The offenders watch to see the victims withdraw cash and steal the cash from their bags or pockets.
He added: “The victims are often unaware that the money has been stolen until they return home or enter a shop and attempt to pay for an item, therefore it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of where the money was stolen. The offenders have also been known to befriend the victims and portray a friendly and helpful approach in order to gain their victims’ trust before stealing the money and/or bank card from the victim.”
Another common trick for pickpockets is for them to put a device in the ATM machine and watch the victim putting in their pin number, so they can ‘catch’ their card and use it to make subsequent purchases.
Follow this crime prevention advice to help reduce the chance of you being a victim of purse dipping:
Ensure your bags are zipped up and secure on your person – There are small discreet bags that are placed around the neck and can be placed under clothing in order to keep valuables out of view to others. These are available on request by emailing PC Toby George
Avoid withdrawing large amounts of money if not necessary
Don’t give anyone your PIN number and/or let anyone assist you in or outside of the banks if they are not uniformed bank staff
Be aware of people around you, following you or getting too close to your person and your belongings
If you are concerned about anyone conducting themselves in a suspicious manner, call police on 999 if it is an emergency or 101 to report a crime.