Extra police patrols over Christmas after rise in purse and phone thefts in Ipswich town centre

There will be extra police officers in Ipswich this Christmas (stock photo)

There will be extra police officers in Ipswich this Christmas (stock photo)

Police are urging shoppers in Ipswich to remain alert after a 21% increase in thefts from the person across Suffolk.

Suffolk police officers have noted a spike in theft of items such as mobile phones, wallets and purses, with latest police statistics revealing a 21% increase between January 1 and September 30 compared to last year.

Now, as thieves have been targeting major shopping areas around the Cornhill, Great Coleman Street and Tavern Street, police are urging Christmas shoppers to keep their valuables safe.

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.”

As part of its safety advice, police are telling shoppers to carry wallets in inside pockets, keep bags in front of them and never leaving belongings unattended.

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Other measures include insuring valuables, not displaying jewellery, post coding property and setting up phones with a PIN.

Suffolk police confirmed it would be stepping up town centre patrols in the run up to Christmas in an effort to deter opportunist criminals.

Det Sup Smith added: “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.”