A CRIME prevention campaign has been launched to prevent purse-snatchers ruining the festive season.
Police in the Ashbourne area have teamed up with Derbyshire Dales District Council to offer free fluorescent chains which attach purses to handbags.
Traditionally, in the run-up to Christmas, thefts from purses and handbags increase as shoppers are often carrying more bags than usual and also carry more cash in their purses.
Thieves known as ‘bag dippers’ may wait until shoppers are distracted while queuing or browsing, before carefully snatching a purse from a handbag.
The new brightly-coloured chains allow purses or wallets to be secured inside a bag or pocket, alerting shoppers to the presence of the thief.
Derbyshire Police will also be increasing patrols in towns throughout the Christmas shopping period to help prevent an unwanted seasonal surprise, while posters urging shoppers to take care of their belongings will be put up across the area.
Sgt Steve Edwards, who is in charge of Ashbourne Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Bag dipping and purse thefts are thankfully quite a rare occurrence in our area but it is important that people don’t let their personal safety measures slip.
“Thieves won’t hesitate to strike if they see an opportunity, but you can deny them that by taking advantage of our free purse chain offer.
“Having personal belongings stolen is very distressing and can be even more so around Christmas.
“We want to help people avoid that distress by being mindful of thieves and protecting their property against them.” The purse chains, funded by the Derbyshire Dales Community Safety Partnership, are available to collect from Ashbourne police enquiry office in Compton and Ashbourne Leisure Centre.
Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council Councillor Lewis Rose, is also Chairman of the Derbyshire Dales Community Safety Partnership.
He added: “We are fortunate to live in a lowcrime area and excellent partnership initiatives such as this help to keep it that way.”