Spate of stolen purses sparks advice on how to ward off thieves


A spate of purse thefts from handbags in Cherwell and West Oxfordshire has prompted police to issue advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

No further details have been given of the incidents, but police have released a range of measures people can take to ward off thieves.

‘Handbag dipping’, where offenders remove purses from handbags left unzipped or unattended, is the most common type of purse theft, according to police.

A police spokesman said bank cards are often stolen and used by offenders very quickly, often even before the victim realises the purse has been taken.

Crimes should continue to be reported either by using the online form on our website or by calling 101, if a crime is in progress then call 999, they added.

To deter thieves and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of pickpockets, follow these steps:

• Keep your handbag on you, zipped with no valuable items such as mobile phones on display. Do not leave it unattended.

•Carry bags in front of you or diagonally across your chest.

• Return cards to your purse or wallet quickly and zip it up or button it.

• In cafes and restaurants put your bag on your lap or on the floor between your feet with your foot on the strap. Alternatively place the strap through one leg of the chair.

• Look for ATM machines located inside buildings, supermarkets or other busy locations.

• Never leave your bag in adjacent seats in theatres, pubs or on public transport.

• Purse bells are a discreet and highly effective way of deterring offenders. They clip on to the zip of your purse and jingle to alert you of any potential theft. The bells can also be used to protect bags, wallets or any other valuable items.

To get a free purse bell, visit the front counter at Witney police station from 10am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.

More personal theft prevention advice is available at