City-centre thefts cut by more than a fifth

A POLICE campaign to target thieves preying on shoppers and tourists in a Yorkshire city has seen offences drop by more than a fifth in the last three years.

North Yorkshire Police officers have mounted high-profile patrols and targeted known offenders in the operation which has seen the number of thefts of handbags, purses, mobile phones and wallets in York city centre reduce by 23 per cent.

However, officers have urged the public to remain vigilant as thieves are continuing to operate throughout the city centre.

Pc Helen Pointon, from the Guildhall Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "Although York is a safe city to visit, it is important to be careful in crowded places.

"People need to be aware that it isn't just people out shopping who fall victim to personal theft, but people who are out in pubs and bars in the evenings are also targets.

"It is easy to drop your guard when out socialising, but you must remain vigilant and keep an eye on any personal belongings you have with you."

There were 247 thefts in York city centre reported to the North Yorkshire force in 2007/08, although this figure had fallen to 188 in 2009/10 – a drop of 23 per cent. There have so far been 112 reported thefts in the city centre during this financial year.

Police have urged shoppers and tourists not to leave property unattended or purses on shop counters.

Officers have also called on the public to keep a tight hold of bags when in busy streets, shops or bars, and not to leave purses or wallets in back pockets or unsecured coat pockets.

Pc Pointon also advised people to keep records of bank cards and the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of mobile phones to allow them to be cancelled quickly if stolen.

Anyone who has fallen victim to a theft can contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247.