Police in Chesterfield are warning shoppers to be alert after nine ladies had their purses stolen in the town centre.
The incidents happened on Thursday, July 18. Seven were reported in the Market Place, one at the Marks and Spencer store and one at the Tesco store.
Officers are appealing for anyone who noticed anything suspicious to contact them and are stepping up patrols.
They are also planning a number of crime prevention events to raise awareness of the issue and give out free purse chains.
Inspector Steve Ball, who is in charge of policing in Chesterfield, said: “I would encourage shoppers to make it more difficult for thieves, by making sure your purse, wallet and other valuables are hidden away in a zipped bag.
“It is also advisable to only carry money that you need and to use devices such as purse chains or bells which will make it more difficult for them to be stolen, acting as a deterrent and alerting you to anything suspicious.”
Advice to shoppers includes:
• Keep your bag closed and close to you at all times, if possible with the opening towards your body
• Close your purse and put it away before you leave the till
• Try not to overload yourself with bags and coats
• Avoid carrying your purse or wallet in a back trouser pocket
• Keep cash secure and out of sight
• Do not leave your handbag, push chair or shopping trolley unattended for any length of time
• Always make sure that no one is looking over your shoulder before entering your PIN number at the cash machine, make sure your money is put away before leaving the machine and ensure your purse is out of reach
• Do not write down your PIN and keep it in your wallet, purse or handbag. If you cannot remember your PIN, you can change it at your bank to a number which is easier to remember
Insp Ball added: “Nine elderly ladies were sadly targeted in these incidents, so I would encourage shoppers to look out for your friends and relatives and encourage them to be safer shoppers.
“If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of this type of crime, contact the police immediately and also remember to cancel all credit and debit cards with your banks as soon as possible.”
Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious, or with information about these incidents should contact Derbyshire police on 101, the non emergency number, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.