Purse thefts in Hexham

23 Nov 2016 11:25 AM

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Police are advising people to be on their guard following a spate of purse thefts from shoppers in Hexham.

Three thefts have been reported to police since Saturday and officers want to alert people to the issue and appeal for witnesses.

The first incident happened in Abbey Shop on Beaumont Street between 10am and 10.30am. A 72-year-old woman was shopping and noticed her purse had been stolen when she went to pay for items. Her purse had been inside her unzipped handbag when it was stolen.

A short time later around 11am on Saturday a 68-year-old woman was shopping in M&CO on Fore Street when she found her purse had been stolen from her bag.

The third theft happened on Tuesday, November 22, at 11.05am when a 63-year-old woman was browsing in the Cancer Research Charity Shop in Priestpopple. She had her purse inside her unzipped handbag when a woman engaged her in conversation, while she was distracted her purse was stolen from inside the bag, she realised the theft a short time later.

Now police are appealing for witnesses to these thefts and are urging shoppers in the town to be alerted and keep their purses secure.

Neighbourhood Inspector Pam Bridges said: "We want to alert shoppers to the thefts and remind people to keep hold of their bags and make sure they are zipped and secure at all times to help prevent further thefts.

"It only takes a second for an opportunist thief to strike and they will take advantage of insecure bags to steal valuables."

"Please make sure your bag is not left unattended while browsing in stores and don't leave your valuables lying on top of open bags, where opportunist thieves can easily steal them."

Police are reviewing CCTV and additional police patrols will be tasked to the area.

Police are appealing for witnesses, anyone who was in the shops or nearby areas at the relevant times and who may have seen or heard anything suspicious is asked to contact police.

Police offer the following advice:

Keep your purse inside a closed handbag or shopping bag
If your bag doesn't have a secure fastening such as a zip, then walk with your bag opening under your arm, so a purse dipper can't sneak their hand in and take your cash
If possible consider using a lanyard type device which securely fastens your purse to the inside of your bag
Never keep your pin number in your purse with your bank card.

For more crime prevention advice visit the force website at

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting reference number 468 of 22/11/16 or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.