Christmas shoppers urged to keep bags safe

The 'Jingle bells' which can be attached to handbags and purses to alert shoppers  to thieves.
The 'Jingle bells' which can be attached to handbags and purses to alert shoppers to thieves.

People are being asked to beware of thieves in the run-up to Christmas whilst shopping in the city centre.

Operation Jingle Bells will see officers in Lancaster giving away tiny bells, festively named ‘Jingle Bells’, for shoppers to attach to their purses, handbags and wallets at the Christmas Lights switch-on in the city centre on Sunday, November 24.

If thieves do try to snatch their belongings, shoppers will be alerted by the bells jingling and be able to take action.

As part of the operation, Lancaster Police will also be opening the community policing office at Lancaster bus station to the public for the next few weeks as Christmas approaches.

In addition to providing visitors with Jingle Bells, officers will also be on hand to offer advice on how to stay safe over the Christmas and New Year period.

PC Chris Smith, the Community Beat Manager for Lancaster city centre’s Dukes ward, said: “The city’s shops are at their busiest in the run-up to Christmas and I would like to remind people to be vigilant when shopping.

“Be wary of other shoppers who crowd you, keep your handbag and shopping bags closed and don’t leave your purse or other valuables in view at any time.

“I would also encourage our residents to visit us at the community police office.

“As well as handing out Jingle Bells, my colleagues and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and show you the old police memorabilia we have in our mini museum on-site.”

In the run-up to Christmas, residents in Lancaster are urged to:

·Never leave your bag unattended

·Always make sure that your bags are securely shut

·If your bag has a strap, wear it across your body with the openings facing inwards and hold it close to your body

·Never put your bag on the floor to look at anything on the shelves or when trying on clothing in changing rooms

·Only keep items in your bag that you need and leave other valuables in a safe place at home

·If you do not have a bag, hold your purse or wallet close to your body, or carry it in a secure, concealed front pocket

·Keep your cash card separate from your cheque book

·Where possible, avoid carrying around large amounts of cash

·Always remain aware of what is going on around you

·Keep a note of the correct phone numbers to ring to report stolen cards and, if your purse or wallet is stolen, make sure you report it to your bank/card issuer IMMEDIATELY as thieves can use cards to buy items over the phone or internet.