Six Hitchin town centre bag thefts prompt police appeal

Police say pickpocketing figures in Herts could be the highest ever.

Police say pickpocketing figures in Herts could be the highest ever. - Credit: Archant

With police figures indicating some of the highest levels of purse dipping and pickpocketing in Herts history, officers have today appealed for information about six thefts in Hitchin town centre.

The six thefts, mostly targeting pensioners, happened in Market Place, the High Street and Bancroft over the past two months.

The first was at 3.15pm on Monday, September 4, when a purse was stolen from a woman’s bag at Card Factory in Bancroft. The victim is aged in her 70s.

The second was between 3.30pm and 4pm on Tuesday, September 26, when someone took a purse from a woman’s handbag in the Garden House Hospice Care shop in Bancroft. The victim in this was is aged in her 60s.

Thirdly, at about 2.15pm on Friday, October 13, a woman in Card Factory had a purse stolen from her handbag. She is aged in her 70s.

The fourth theft happened between midday and 12.10pm on Thursday, October 19, when a man in his 60s had a wallet taken from his bag while he was in Market Place.

The last two incidents both happened within 40 minutes on Tuesday, October 24.

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First a purse was taken from a woman’s handbag at discount card shop M & K in the High Street between 3pm and 3.15pm. The victim is aged in her 70s.

Then, at some point between 3.20pm and 3.40pm the same day, a handbag was taken from the bottom of a buggy in Scope’s Market Place shop.

Sgt Stephen Oliphant said: “Officers from my Hitchin safer neighbourhood team are carrying out high visibility patrols and we are urging members of the public to remain vigilant.”

Remarking on the high theft figures, neighbourhood watch liaison officer Derrick Sweeney said that the rise was perhaps down to the rise of contactless cards.

He said: “The other disturbing statistic is most of the victims are vulnerable, elderly females.

“That’s a lot of our mums, grans, aunts and next door neighbours.

“We have to be vigilant and spread the word about this problem.”

Anyone with information about any of these incidents should call police on 101, quoting the relevant crime number.

The crime numbers are:

• G1/17/2711 for the incident on September 4 in Card Factory

• G1/17/2978 for the incident on September 26 in the Garden House Hospice Care shop

• G1/17/3178 for the incident on October 13 in Card Factory

• G1/17/3244 for the incident on October 19 in Market Place

• G1/17/3306 for the incident on October 24 in M & K

• G1/17/3305 for the incident on October 24 in the Scope shop

Alternatively give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or

Sgt Oliphant has urged the public to stick to the following crime prevention advice:

• Always close your handbag.

• Carry your bag over your shoulder and in front of you.

• Never leave it unattended or in a shopping trolley or on a pushchair.

• Don’t count money in public.

• Be aware of people around you.

• When using cash machines ensure no-one is standing too close to you and always shield your pin.

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