PLAIN-clothes police officers are being used to help stem the rising tide of bag-snatches in Sunderland.
The move follows an increase in the number of purses and handbags, along with wallets and mobile phones, being reported stolen from the city’s pubs and clubs.
Northumbria Police are urging drinkers enjoying a night out not to leave valuable items lying on tables and to make sure they keep them close by.
Officers are also advising people not to leave handbags hanging on the back of a chair and make sure it is zipped or fastened shut.
Neighbourhood Inspector Mick Hall, of Sunderland Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We don’t want people to have their night ruined by a phone, purse, wallet or handbag going missing and will be targeting thieves throughout the city centre.
“Plain clothes officers will be working alongside uniformed patrols to catch those responsible for stealing and we’re asking people to work with us and keep their property safe.”
In partnership with the University of Sunderland, officers will be handing out bag clips, which attach the zip of a bag together making it even more secure.
They are also reminding people with smartphones to make the most of the applications available to locate the phone using its GPS – and are warning thieves they use the same technology to trace stolen property.
“If anyone does notice something has gone missing, we’d ask that they check with the pub or club they’ve been in first to see if it has been handed in or found by staff,” said Insp Hall.
“People might just assume it’s been stolen, but we’re seeing a lot of property found by staff that has been left on a table or shelf and is never claimed.”
Police are warning people who falsely report a theft in order to make an insurance claim, that they could find themselves arrested.
“We fully investigate any report of theft, which means we will uncover any discrepancies and fraudulent reports and this could see the person who makes the report arrested for wasting police time,” said Insp Hall.
For more information about personal safety and staying in control of your night visit www.facebook.com/keysmoneyphone or follow @NorthumbriaPol #keysmoneyphone #KMP on Twitter.