POLICE patrols are being stepped up in Selby to prevent a festive crime wave.
The mobile police office will also be placed in the centre of town in coming weeks, as shopping activity rises in the run up to Christmas.
Sergeant Lesley Holliday said: “With Christmas fast approaching, it is normally anticipated that we have an increase in crime in relation to theft from shops. Our crime figures for October 2012 have already shown a significant increase.
“Over the last couple of months we have also had pickpockets in Selby, preying on victims. Some of these crimes happen when shoppers are in the supermarkets – they leave their handbags unattended in the trolley. When shoppers look into the freezers or shelving units the thieves will quickly remove the purse without bringing a lot of attention to themselves.”
Sgt Holliday said shoppers had also been targeted by shoplifters after removing money from cash machines, and with heavy shopping crowds expected in the town centre and Three Lakes Retail Park, police have taken the initiative to take on the criminals.
Earlier this year, the Selby Against Retail Crime initiative was launched, which saw shopkeepers team up with the Selby Community Safety Partnership, North Yorkshire Police, APEX Radio Systems Ltd and Retailers Against Crime in York, to improve communications between the groups and identify offenders who move from shop to shop.
Residents and shoppers have also been advised to take steps to avoid becoming a victim of crime, particularly keeping their handbag close to them and closed, not to leave any valuables on show in parked vehicles, and not to feel obliged to help anyone out, even if they are only asking for change.
Sgt Holliday said: “We want to remind people that Selby is a safe place to shop and spend time, and if people are thinking of coming to Selby to steal, we’d advise them to think twice.
“We will be out there, and we will prosecute.”