Shoppers warned over festive crime

ADVICE on reducing the risk of criminals spoiling Christmas is being handed out by the Community Safety Partnership.

The organisation says shoppers, residents and motorists can all do their bit to prevent becoming a victim of crime in the run up to the festive season.

That includes shoppers being advised to keep their purses and wallets out of sight when shopping and not to leave handbags unattended in shopping trolleys; keeping Christmas presents and gifts out of sight in parked vehicles and keeping vehicles and front doors locked at all times.

Homeowners are being urged not to leave Christmas presents within sight through windows at home if at all possible and not to leave packaging outside your home advertising what you’ve bought.

A spokesperson said, “Eastbourne is a low crime area and these simple precautions will help to ensure that Christmas is not spoilt.

“As always, if you do see anything suspicious please call the police straightaway by dialling 999.”

In addition, the Community Safety Partnership has teamed up with the Business Crime Group to reduce the risk of purse thefts in the town by purchasing purse bells.

Eastbourne Business Crime Group manager Trish Pybous said, “The most frequent kind of purse theft is “handbag dipping” where offenders remove purses from handbags.

Once the purse is stolen bank cards are often used by offenders very quickly, frequently even before the victim realises the purse has been stolen.

“This causes even more upset to the victim who is often elderly and vulnerable.

“The bells are clipped to the zipper on your purse and if someone tries to dip into your bag the twin bells will jingle to alert you.”

The bells are being distributed free of charge through EBCG members including Cambridge & Co in Cornfield Road, charity shops and through the security officers in the Arndale Centre.

Matt Briggs, manager of Specsavers and chairman of the group, said, “Our customers have been very happy with the anti purse theft bells as a discreet but effective deterrent to purse thefts.”

Portfolio holder for Community at Eastbourne Borough Council and Devonshire councillor Margaret Bannister said, “The partnership welcomes the opportunity to work with the business community to reduce the risk of these thefts where it is often the elderly who are targeted.”

Eastbourne Police are also mounting a seasonal campaign called Operation Blitzen to provide additional high visibility patrols in the town centre to tackle shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Insp Steve Tullett said, “We will be running the operation between December 12 and 31 when the town centre is busy.

“Shoplifting traditionally increases through this period and the additional patrols will be providing public reassurance at the same time as targeting known offenders.”