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Shoppers at Wisbech’s Christmas Market were the target of a special police operation today (Monday) to highlight the threat of pick pockets and purse snatchers.

Six officers in uniform and two in plain clothes were out mingling with the crowds not only to watch out for potential thieves but also to plant warning cards in vulnerable handbags to highlight just how easy it is for a pick pocket to operate.

Fenland Citizen reporter Sarah Cliss out with the police showing people how easy it is to pickpocket people

Fenland Citizen reporter Sarah Cliss out with the police showing people how easy it is to pickpocket people

PC Dave Stevens, responsible for the town centre police team, explained pick pocketing is a year round problem and is mainly a random crime committed in shops in the Fenland area.

“We don’t tend to get gangs coming in and targeting this area over a day or anything like that. It tends to be a random, opportunistic crime and normally carried out in shops when the victim is distracted. But something like the Christmas market can attract these kinds of criminals and so we wanted to have a high visibility presence as well as carrying out crime prevention work,” said PC Stevens.

The aim was to try to slip cards into people’s bags and then to speak to the bag’s owner telling them they could have been the victim of crime.

The two plain clothes Specials - Special Sergeant James Steels and Special Constable Chris Hallatt - had the task of trying to slip the cards into bags.

On one side the card states: “I could’ve stolen your belongings” and on the other side there is a list of tips on protecting your belongings.

Citizen Chief Reporter Sarah Cliss joined the police and discovered just how easy it can be to snatch a purse from someone’s handbag when she managed to slip cards into two bags without their owners realising within minutes.

The first went into Wisbech resident Marian Gaines bags, she was out browsing the stalls with her husband Peter, and had her bag unzipped with her purse visible.

“I normally do keep my bag done up,” she said, when told about the card.

“If we can save one person from being a victim of crime by doing this operation then it will be worthwhile,” concluded PC Stevens.

To find out more about protecting your property visit: www,cambs.police.uk,