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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 11:11 GMT
Purse bell tactics scare thieves
A purse
Mothers who drape handbags over pushchairs are targeted
Christmas shoppers in a Leicestershire town are being given purse bells to try to prevent handbag thefts.

The bells, which can be attached to purses and wallets, will be given to shoppers in Coalville town centre by police and community workers.

The aim is to stop thieves who target shoppers and mothers who leave their bags, prams or pushchairs unattended.

Insp Andy Ramsay said: "This project has been introduced to raise awareness of pickpockets."

Ringing endorsement

He said: "Local people are reminded to be vigilant when shopping, be wary of other shoppers who 'crowd' you, keep your handbag or shopping bags closed and don't leave your purse in view."

Bells will be distributed at various shopping precincts and car parks from 29 November until 22 December.

Pc Lee Owen said: "The bells are not only a deterrent for thieves, but they also act as a reminder to secure your wallet or purse. If you can hear the bell ringing then your purse or wallet is not secure enough and you need to put it at the bottom of your bag with the opening securely fastened."

Leicestershire Police introduced the bells last October in Market Harborough in a campaign during the run-up to the Christmas shopping period.

Police said Christmas crime was cut last year after 2,500 bells were attached to purses and bags.

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