Police in Buxton and Chapel-en-le-Frith are sending out a further reminder to shoppers to make sure their purses and valuables are secure.
The message comes as the number of shoppers in the town centres increases during the last week of shopping before Christmas.
In the latest incident, on Friday, December 10, a 66-year-old woman, shopping in the Morrisons store at Buxton, was approached by a man who asked the woman to help explain more about a packet of rice he was holding.
She turned to speak to the man, leaving her handbag in her trolley, and as she turned back she noticed the bag had been unzipped and her purse taken.
The man is described as possibly of eastern European origin, aged in his 30s with dark hair and was wearing a grey overcoat.
Insp. Martin Coey, who is in charge of policing in the Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge areas, said: “A common tactic that offenders take is to distract shoppers while they are browsing, or simply to take advantage of opportunities where they spot unattended handbags.
“The victims of this type of crime tend to be older ladies or other people who may appear vulnerable while they are out shopping, and thieves will tend to take advantage in busy shopping centres, supermarkets and charity shops.”
Since the start of the year officers in Buxton, Chapel and Whaley Bridge have received 32 reports of purse dipping incidents.
They have increased patrols, given out more than 300 purse chains and worked alongside retailers to help reduce and prevent this type of crime.
Reminders are being given out on supermarket tannoy systems and shop assistants advised to give out advice to customers, highlighting the risks whenever they spot someone leaving a handbag unattended.
Businesses have also been using the radio link up scheme to alert each other and the police about any suspicious activity and incidents.
Insp. Coey added: “We have a good relationship with retailers and shop security staff, officers are checking CCTV footage and gathering evidence against the people who commit these crimes.
“However, we cannot stress enough the importance of doing what you can to help us keep Buxton safe. Remind relatives, friends or neighbours to stay vigilant and remember that the best way to prevent your purse from being stolen is to take a few simple precautions yourself.”
Essential tips to reduce the risk of having your purse pinched include:
• Don’t leave your handbag or purse unattended
• Don’t hang your handbag on your shopping trolley
• Don’t put your purse or wallet in a visible pocket
• Don’t keep large amounts of cash on you
• Don’t keep your PIN number with your bank card
• Do keep your handbag closed with the opening towards your body
• Do be vigilant while shopping and be aware of people around you
• Do use deterrents like alarms or purse chains to alert you if someone tries to take your purse
To contact your local Safer Neighbourhood policing team call 0345 123 33 33 or email local officers from the website: www.derbyshire.police.uk.