Suffolk Police warn shoppers to be alert for thieves

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With Christmas less than six weeks away, Suffolk Police are reminding shoppers to ensure their personal security remains a priority following a noticeable increase in thefts.

The advice comes after reports of a 21 per cent increase in thefts from the person, in particular of mobile phones, wallets and purses, between January 1 and September 30 this year compared with the year before.

Thieves have been targeting major shopping areas, including Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket, with repeat offences reported around the Cornhill, Tavern Street and Great Coleman Street areas of Ipswich.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith said: “Personal theft is primarily an opportunist crime, and one which many people are unaware has occurred until later. At this time of year people often carry more money, and with many of us using our mobile phones to store personal data for online shopping, banking and social media, these can prove an attractive combination for thieves.

“A variety of tactics and distractions are used to relieve you of your personal items; dipping into a bag – often underneath a cover of a jacket or newspaper, bumping into you, distracting you so your focus is not on your property, or actively cutting the straps from your bag.

“Having your phone, wallet or purse stolen can have immediate consequences. Don’t give thieves that opportunity; by taking a few simple steps you can greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this type of crime.”

Officers will be stepping up patrols in town centres in the lead up to the festive season, but anyone who notices someone acting suspiciously should call Suffolk Police on 101.

Preventing personal theft:

Carry wallets in an inside pocket, where possible, but never in your back pocket.

Zip up hand and shoulder bags, and carry with the fasteners against your body to prevent a thief from dipping into it.

Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm, or in front of you.

Don’t display jewellery.

Don’t show your money — keep it safely in your pocket.

Never leave your bags or other valuables unattended.

Ensure any bags placed on the on the floor are in front of you so that any movement of the bag will be noticeable.

Safeguard your mobile phone:

Stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you when using your phone in public.

If you’re not making a call, keep your phone hidden away in one of your front pockets or inside a bag.

Always use your phone’s security code or PIN.

Keep a record of your unique reference number (IMEI). To get this, dial *#06#, which allows you to block it from being used if it is stolen.

Download a tracking application, which could help trace your device if it’s stolen.

Use an ultra violet property marker to write your post code and house number on valuable possessions.

Insure your possessions and keep the insurance details handy.