POLICE ALERT TO SHOPS AND CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS OVER THIEVES
Police have warned shoppers and retailers to be ready for an anticipated rise in thefts in the run-up to Christmas.
The number of people expected to visit the city's shops is expected to soar from this week as the search for Christmas gifts gets into full swing.
However, the experience of previous years has shown police that shoplifters and purse 'dippers' will also try to exploit the crowded streets and shops.
Sgt Andy Cooper, of city centre police, said officers are to patrol the city's main shopping areas to deter thieves and to advise shoppers to take simple steps to reduce the risk of becoming victims.
Last week, they took over an empty shop in Highcross centre to offer speak to shoppers face-to-face.
They urged people to keep valuables such as purses, wallets and mobile phones safe and out of sight, ideally in zipped-up bags.
They also handed out cat-bells to help women keep their purses safe from thieves.
Officers are encouraging women, particularly the elderly, to attach the chains and bells to their purses.
They hope thieves will be deterred from trying to steal purses with chains attached to them because the tinkling of the bells could alert their victims or passers-by.
Officers are also working with Citywatch – a Neighbourhood Watch-style group of retailers – to help shop staff spot thieves and escort them away before they steal stock.
Sgt Cooper said: "Shoplifting does tend to increase at this time of year. We also tend to have purses stolen around this time.
"A lot of people are coming into the city with money to spend and we want them all to be as safe as possible."
Citywatch distributes a list of known thieves' mugshots to its 200-plus members throughout the year.
It said the updates include 24 of the city's most prolific thieves.
Dick Pollard, of Citywatch, said: "Shoplifting and purse thefts traditionally increase around now.
"We would say 90 per cent of our 24 most prolific thieves are local and they will be about."
Details from Leicester Mercury