The Wokingham Paper

Warning: Pickpockets dipping into handbags in Wokingham town centre

Pickpockets
Police are warning Wokingham shoppers that handbag dippers are operating in the town centre

PICKPOCKETS are on the loose in Wokingham and police are warning shoppers to be on the lookout – and get a free purse bell from them.  

Thames Valley Police said that there has been a spate of handbag dipping in the town centre over the last few weeks.

One person took to social media to describe their experience, which took place earlier this week in New Look:

A relative had her bank cards stolen from her bag while shopping in New Look in Market Place.

She said she had been barged by the person suspected of stealing the cards. In the altercation, the clasp on the bag was broken and a wallet was taken, containing a bus pass, rail card and other cards.

The thief then attempted to use the card in a cash machine.

Police said that customers seeing anything suspicious should report it to store security or call police on 101 (emergency 999).

Thames Valley Police’s Bracknell and Wokingham Neighbourhood teams have purse bells to give out. Any reader wanting one is asked to contact their local team.

Advice from Thames Valley Police

Crowds, noise, aching feet and demanding children can all make shopping stressful. But whatever’s going on around you, be sure to stay alert – opportunist thieves are always on the prowl.

Follow the below advice when shopping:  

  • Never leave your bag unattended in shopping trolleys or baskets, pushchairs or mobility scooters.
  • While walking about, keep your bag close to your body and closed at all times. Choose one with zip fastenings and keep your valuable items well hidden inside, out of easy reach of pickpockets. Keep the bag closed/zipped up.
  • Bells can be attached to your purse that will jingle to alert you if someone takes it out of your bag. You can contact your local neighbourhood team for some.
  • Keep the amount of valuables in your bag to a minimum – avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • In restaurants and cafes 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.
  • Be mindful of distractions, thieves working in pairs may attempt to divert your attention in order to steal your handbag or its contents.
  • If your purse is stolen, please ensure you contact your bank as soon as possible to cancel your bank cards.

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