POLICE have issued a warning to festive shoppers in St Helens after a thief was caught snatching a mobile phone from a pensioner’s handbag.
Karen Rigby, 47, admitted committing a theft against a 66-year-old woman before St Helens Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (December 5).
Rigby, of Pitt Street, Parr, was handed an eight-week prison sentence - suspended for 12 months - and a supervision requirement.
But police now want to prevent other festive shoppers from becoming victims of crime.
Sgt Mark Stanisstreet said: “As we draw closer to Christmas, opportunist crimes can increase and, as the town centre becomes increasingly busy with shoppers, we would like to remind people to keep their valuables close to them and to keep their cars locked at all times.
“Only this week a 66-year-old woman had her mobile phone stolen from her handbag while out shopping in St Helens town centre.
“Women can be more vulnerable to bag snatches and handbag dips and having their purses stolen. We would advise ladies to carry handbags that strap across the body rather than a shoulder bag, which is easy to grab.
“It is also a good idea to wear your handbag under your winter coat to keep it out of sight.
“If you do use a shoulder bag, carry it close to your body, ensure that it fastens securely - preferably with a zip - and keep it closed at all times to prevent someone from dipping their hand in and stealing your purse.”
Sgt Stanisstreet added: “Men can also be at risk of wallet thefts. They are generally taken from the back trouser pocket as they are visible and easy to remove - so keep your wallet out of sight and reach, perhaps within an inside jacket pocket.
“It also only takes a minute for a thief to take items such as phones, wallets or handbags or other valuables from an unlocked car, which can cause a great deal of upset and inconvenience to victims. Remember not to leave valuables and presents in your car, and make sure it is locked and left in a secure car park.
“I would like to reassure the public that there will be an increased police presence in the town centre during the Christmas period and I would encourage anyone who witnesses anyone acting suspiciously to report it by speaking with a police officer, calling 101 or, if it is an emergency, 999.”