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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Officers target 'hugger muggers'
Police on patrol in central London
The operation will last seven weeks
Police have launched a high-visibility operation to crack down on street crime in London's West End.

The seven-week campaign, Operation Tiffanie, will on focus crime and anti-social behaviour.

Police said targets include "hugger muggers" who befriend people in clubs or pubs to steal their belongings.

The operation was launched in Soho on Friday, with extra police officers patrolling crime hotspots and providing safety advice to the public.

Single men

"I would like to warn anyone who is thinking about travelling into the West End to commit crime to think again," said Commander Steve Allen.

"Not only will there be more police and community safety officers out on the streets but we will be deploying undercover officers to target offenders in the area."

A similar initiative last year led to 312 arrests over the same period for offences including pickpocketing, robbery, drug supply and possession and possessing offensive weapons.

Mr Allen said single men were the main victims of so-called hugger muggers.

"In the summer, people wear the types of clothing which are light and easy to steal from," he said.

"A consequence of the safety campaigns we have done over the last few years is that it is rare to see a woman on her own at night."

Det Insp Henry Lindsley said hugger muggers looked for easy targets.

"They will target people who have perhaps had a drink and have their property on show, either sticking out of a pocket or in an open bag.

"The message is simple: if you are approached by a stranger who tries to hug you, dance with you or start up a conversation, they may well be trying to steal from you."

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