Shoppers are being reminded to keep their valuables safe while out buying Christmas gifts.
As the number of people in shops increases in the run-up to Christmas, crowds of shoppers can attract opportunist thieves who will target mobile phones, purses, bags and other property – including newly-bought Christmas presents.
Police are urging shoppers to keep a close watch on their valuables.
Chief Inspector Helena Barron said: “As Christmas fast approaches and everyone starts the countdown to the big day our shopping areas get increasingly busy.
“At the same time there will be opportunist thieves looking to take advantage of insecure property lying around. If they see a mobile phone left on a café table or in a back pocket, an open handbag or unattended purse then, while the owner is distracted, they will steal it.
“It only takes a few seconds and it can ruin someone’s Christmas, their peace of mind as well as being an extra cost to bear at this expensive time of year.
“To prevent being caught by opportunist thieves I’d urge people to be vigilant and make sure they keep a close eye on their property, never leaving it unattended. Keep your purse and wallet secure in a zipped bag or pocket.”
“Take similar care with your mobile, you wouldn’t leave large amounts of cash just lying on the table so why leave an expensive mobile phone on public view? By taking a few simple steps you can reduce the risk of falling victim to an opportunist thief.”
Extra officers will be on patrol in the busier shopping areas to reassure people and help to deter criminals.
Anyone with concerns about crime where they live should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.
For further crime prevention advice visit www.northumbria.police.uk/advice_and_information/crime_prevention/