Thames Valley Police is issuing crime prevention advice to residents across Cherwell and West Oxfordshire following multiple incidents of purse theft.

The most common kind of purse theft is known as ‘handbag dipping’. This is where offenders remove purses from handbags left unzipped or unattended.

Bank cards are often stolen and used by offenders very quickly, often even before the victim realises the purse has been taken.

Crimes should continue to be reported either by using the online form on our website or by calling 101. If a crime is in progress then call 999.

You can help to deter thieves and reduce your risk of becoming a victim of pickpockets by following these steps:

•    Keep your handbag on you, zipped with no valuable items such as mobile phones on display. Do not leave it unattended.
•    Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest.
•    Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it.
•    In cafes and restaurants put your bag on your lap or on the floor between your feet with your foot on the strap. Alternatively place the strap through one leg of the chair.
•    Look for ATM machines located inside buildings, supermarkets or other busy locations.
•    Never leave your bag in adjacent seats in theatres, pubs or on public transport.

Purse Bells are a discreet and highly effective way of deterring offenders.
They clip on to the zip of your purse and jingle to alert you of any potential theft. The bells can also be used to protect bags, wallets or any other valuable items.

If you would like a free purse bell, please visit the front counter at Witney police station. Open from 10.00 am – 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday (closed between 1.30 pm – 2.15 pm, and at weekends and bank holidays).

More personal theft prevention advice is available on the Thames Valley Police website at: https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/theft-from-a-person/pickpocketing/

Please share this advice to help protect your family and friends.

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