Bells initiative to stop purse thefts
Police are handing out cat-bells to help women keep their purses safe from thieves.
Officers are encouraging women, particularly the elderly, to attach the chains and bells to their purses.
They hope thieves will be deterred from trying to steal purses with chains attached to them because the tinkling of the bells could alert their victims or passers-by.
At present, police said the crime was at a low level, but in previous years professional purse thieves have targeted the city centre in the run-up to Christmas.
In one week in December four years ago, 19 people fell prey to purse thieves in the city centre.
Sums stolen that week ranged from £8 to £600, with several women losing hundreds of pounds each.
Police said the thieves often operated in a small area around the Clock Tower.
Sergeant Andy Cooper, of Mansfield House police station, said: "This time of the year, we see an increase in thefts of purses from handbags and shopping bags. All women are potential victims, but elderly, vulnerable women are more often targeted.
"Purse bells jingle when the purse is moved, alerting the owner and reminding them to zip up their purse to keep it safe."
Officers began handing out the bells in the city centre yesterday along with coiled plastic bungee cords, which people can attach to mobile phones.
Antony Foster, of Age UK Leicester Shire and Rutland, said: "The purse bells are very popular and help people to stay safe from thieves."
Police crime prevention advice includes:
Never leave a handbag or purse unattended and be aware of your surroundings.
Keep your handbag firmly zipped shut and on your person at all times.
Wear shoulder bags with the opening against your body.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Only keep items in your bag that are needed.
Keep your cash card separate from your cheque book.
Purse bells and bungee cords are available at Mansfield House police station, Belgrave Gate, Age UK's Clarence House, in Humberstone Gate, and from the information desk on the first floor of the Highcross shopping centre.