08:02AM, Friday 06 December 2013
Shoppers are being encouraged to use free purse bells to help foil sneak thieves looking for victims during the peak Christmas shopping period.
The bells are being provided at police stations and from PCSOs and provide a clear warning if sly 'purse dippers' try to lift valuables from bags.
On Monday, December 2, a purse was taken from an elderly woman's bag in the town centre.
PCSOs Graham Knight and Jason Miller of the Maidenhead Central neighbourhood team have warned that cunning pickpockets will target vulnerable people in crowded shopping districts.
The pair said the cunning crooks will often look to distract victims by tapping a shoulder or bumping into them before snatching valuables.
They are also warning shoppers to take care when entering their PIN number at cash points or while paying for goods.
PCSO Knight, who has worked in his town centre beat for six-and-a-half years, explained that criminals watch people paying with their debit or credit cards in shops, follow them out, and steal their purse.
The purse-dippers also operate in busy shops where they can take advantage of crowded situations.
PCSO Knight said: "It has a devastating effect on the victims. Because with their pension gone they can't buy presents, food or pay their bills."
The two officers have some tips to protect yourself against the thieves.
"Separate money out. Have it in multiple places. Do not have one large wad of cash in one place," said PCSO Knight.
PCSO Miller described the thieves as 'very low' for targeting the elderly at Christmas.
He added: "Keep handbags close and buttoned up. Be aware of surroundings and who is around you. Watch out when it's busy."
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