January sales shoppers beware of adept pickpockets and opportunist thieves
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January sales shoppers have been given crime prevention advice as figures reveal incidents of ‘pickpocketing’ are on the rise across Suffolk.
Members of the public are safer from snatch or stealth thefts than in most counties across the country – but numbers have been increasing over the last five years, according to new statistics.
During that period, one person in every 341 was the victim of personal property theft in Suffolk, compared to one in 45 in the Metropolitan area of London and one in 617 in England’s safest county from pickpockets, Surrey.
Gadget insurance firm Protect Your Bubble asked every force in England and Wales for the number of ‘theft from the person’ cases for each year between 2013 and 2017.
In Suffolk, figures showed thefts fell from 459 in 2013 to 349 in 2014, but then steadily rose 45% to 506 in 2017. Against the last mid-year population estimate of 751,200, the five-year total amounted to 29.29 thefts per 10,000 people.
London was revealed to be the country’s ‘pickpocketing capital’, according to the study, with a rate more than five times the national average. Met police recorded 195,018 incidents between January 2013 and December 2017 – 223 for every 10,000 residents.
Lincolnshire police force area was ranked second, with 140 incidents for every 10,000 people, followed by Greater Manchester (105) and West Yorkshire (92).
At the other end of the table, the mid-Wales force area of Dyfed-Powys recorded just 358 thefts in all five years – lower than Suffolk’s annual average of 440.
Norfolk was the seventh safest places from pickpocketing, with a rate per 10,000 of 24.35.
A Suffolk police spokesman said: “During the January sales, we know shops can be hectic and very busy, but please take care of your belongings to minimise the risk of becoming victim of pickpockets and opportunist thieves. One can purposely bump into you, or sometimes distract you, while another will adeptly help themselves to your money and cards. You may not feel them stealing from you.
“It’s easy for pickpockets and shoplifters to conceal themselves amongst the crowds in shopping areas. Often working in pairs or groups, pickpockets will use various ways to lift your purse or wallet out of your pocket or bag.
“Periodically, operations are carried out to try to target such offences through patrols in a bid to disrupt retail related crime.”