Festive shoppers in Wisbech who drop their guard will get a shock – in the shape of postcards popped into their bags to warn them that they could be targeted by pickpockets.

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Police are going undercover in the town’s shops to let people know that thieves are on the prowl as Christmas approaches – with open bags, and wallets and purses left on shopping trolleys among easy pickings.

We joined police yesterday as they went undercover in Wisbech market place to put anti-theft postcards into people’s shopping bags to remind them how easy they had been to target.

The aim was to drop postcards into people’s pockets to show them that, if it was easy to put something in, it would not take too much effort to take something out.

Pc Dave Stevens aid: “Locally thieves tend to be opportunist and take things that are easy targets which is why we urge people to close off those opportunities.

“Purse and wallet snatches tend to take place when people are caught off guard, like chatting with bags left unzipped or when bags are sat in shopping trolleys or the back of buggies.

“People take a lot of money out at Christmas for shopping, they have worked hard for it. It is important they keep it safe, otherwise it can all go, in one hit.”

A mix of nine plain-clothed and uniformed officers and special constables were in the market place to remind shoppers of the importance of keeping possessions safe.

Police presence in Wisbech will be stepped up throughout the December and January as part of the anti-theft campaign.

The postcards warn people that their belongings could have been stolen and urge people to:

• Keep bags fastened at all times

• Keep cards, cash and mobile phones in different compartments of your bag

• Don’t leave bags hanging on supermarket trolley, even for a few seconds

• Choose a bag with a long strap to wear across your body

• Attach your purse to your bag with a bungee device

• Place something noisy into your purse like mini bells to create an alert should someone try to take your purse.

• Don’t risk getting hurt - if someone really wants your stuff let it go. Do not risk getting injured as items can be replaced.

• Register your property with www.immobilise.com

During yesterday’s operation, which coincided with the town’s Christmas market, shoppers were on the ball when it came to their bags with many people making sure their possessions were kept secure.

For the few that weren’t, however, they were shocked at having been targeted.

One woman’s bag was open with all the contents on view and easy to take, while another was busy chatting and took no notice as we dropped a postcard into her open bag slung over the back of a wheelchair.

Another was busy tending to her baby as we dropped a postcard into her baby changing bag.

Pc Stevens said: “It was a great day for getting the message across - the key was to create awareness to stop opportunists.”

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