'Low-life' criminals are snatching handbags off elderly women in Northamptonshire supermarkets

Handbag thieves are targetting elderly women in Northamptonshire supermarkets, according to the police.
Handbag thieves are targetting elderly women in Northamptonshire supermarkets, according to the police.

Elderly women are being urged to keep their valuables safe when supermarket shopping after a recent spate of handbag thefts in the county.

Northamptonshire Police has issued advice today on how to deter the criminals following a recent rise in reports of such incidents in Northampton, Kettering and Corby.

Paul Golley, Crime Prevention Team Leader, said: “It takes a real low-life to follow elderly people around a supermarket, waiting for the right moment to steal their handbag or purse.

“Unfortunately these people do exist and they often use distraction techniques to get what they want. This can involve bumping into victims - something that causes them to be flustered and unaware someone has stolen from them. Or it can involve working in pairs with one person distracting the victim while the other steals from them.

“It’s worth making sure you read the tips below in order to best prevent yourself from becoming a victim and making sure any elderly people in your life are aware of these tips as well.”

The force has issued the following advice:

Attach a bell to your handbag so you can hear if it is moved.

Never hang your handbag on pushchairs or shopping trolleys.

Keep your bag firmly closed and on your person at all times.

Wear shoulder bags with the flap against your body.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Only keep items in your bag that you need for that occasion.

Remember thieves can use cards to make contactless purchases.

Do not store your pin number in your handbag or purse.

If your purse is stolen, report the loss of your cards immediately to the card issuers.

Protect your pin when withdrawing cash from an ATM.