Bells ring out
Dated: 21 Oct 2009
Purse thieves in South Tyneside will have ringing in their ears now police are using cat bells to stop them in their tracks.
The bells - the same as the ones used on cat collars - are being handed out free to borough shoppers after being donated to the area command by South Tyneside Association of Neighbourhood Watches (STANW).
The giveaway is in direct response to recent incidents of purse thefts which have happened in crowded shops and shopping areas.
The simple but effective crime prevention device is aimed at deterring shoplifters and opportunist thieves. The bells can be attached to purses and bags and will ring out if moved, alerting the owner and anyone nearby.
They also act as a reminder for people to put their purses well out of sight, ensure they secure their bags by zipping them closed and fasten any clasps, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.
Superintendent John Chappell, from South Tyneside Area Command, said: "If a thief tries to take a bag or purse, the bell will alert the owner or anyone else nearby.
"The bell going off when a purse or handbag is removed by the owner themselves also serves as a reminder that these items should be kept secure.
"We would also remind shoppers not to leave their purses on display or lying on top of open bags. It only takes a second to snatch it and often the owner doesn't know it has been taken.
"Our message to thieves targeting shoppers is simple - we are watching you and won't hesitate in making an arrest.
"We'd also like to extend our thanks to STANW for donating the bells."
Suzanne Jackson, Chairman of STANW, added: "We have a close working relationship with the police and were only too happy to donate the cat bells.
"We hope the public will take advantage of this crime prevention device which could help stop them becoming victim to thieves and combat purse dippers."
Police have had four recent incidents of purse thefts reported to them.
The first happened at 1.35pm, on Friday, October 16, at the Card Factory, Bede Precinct, Jarrow, when an 85-year-old woman had her purse stolen containing a quantity of cash.
Two further incidents happened in Jarrow, on Saturday, October 17, between 1.10pm and 2.30pm, one at Morrisons and the other at Viking Precinct. Both involved elderly women who were aged 72 and 70.
Another purse theft took place at the Sue Rider charity shop, on King Street, South Shields, on Saturday, October 17, between 2pm and 2.15pm. This involved an 87-year-old woman.
The offender in relation to this incident is described as white, of slim build, with mousey hair and an unclean complexion. She is described as having worn drab clothing.
Anyone with any information on these incidents or who spots any suspicious activity is asked to contact police in South Tyneside on 03456 043 043, extension 65046 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Keep yourself and your valuables safe:
· Wallets and purses should be kept out of sight and secure, especially in crowded places
· Do not leave bags open or on the backs of chairs
· Have change ready for buses and ticket machines
· Be vigilant when withdrawing money at cash points
· Keep cheque books and cheque cards separate
· Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
· Never carry your PIN number with your card
· Mobile phones and iPods should not be left lying on pub or cafe tables
· Avoid short cuts through deserted streets or parks
· Wait for buses or taxis in busier areas
. make a note of the unique IMEI number of your mobile by pressing *#06#
Inspector Peter Sutton with the cat bells