Thieves targeting elderly and vulnerable shoppers in Sheffield city centre

A warning has been issued about thieves targeting elderly and vulnerable shoppers in Sheffield city centre.

A number of purses and wallets have been stolen from elderly and vulnerable shoppers over recent weeks.

Shoppers on Fargate in Sheffield city centre

Shoppers on Fargate in Sheffield city centre

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In some cases, victims were ‘distracted’ while thieves dipped into their bags to steal their purses and wallets.

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One arrest was made last week after a woman reported that her purse had been stolen.

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CCTV cameras were examined and a suspect was identified.

The police warning has been issued this week in the run up to Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year in the city centre.

In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said: “Officers in Sheffield are asking the community to ensure that elderly and vulnerable people are made aware of a recent series of purse thefts, or ‘purse dipping’, offences in the city centre.

“Police have received several reports in recent weeks of elderly or vulnerable people being targeted in shops or public places.

“In some reports, the victims are distracted by the suspect, who then ‘dips’ into their handbags or bags and takes their purses or wallets.

“As we head towards the festive season and the city centre is expected to get busier with Christmas shoppers, officers are concerned crimes of this type may rise and want everyone to be aware of suspicious activity.”

To try to reduce the number of thefts, the force is urging shoppers to stay alert and to be aware of individuals around them.

Bags should be zipped up and pockets should be closed with any clasps facing inwards.

Valuables should be kept out of sight wherever possible.