Bells ring time on purse thefts


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An ingenious invention to stop purse thefts has been praised by a police boss.

Forces across the UK are now showing interest in the simple device which has two small bells and is clipped to shoppers’ purses.

It was invented by Llandudno Police and Community Support Officer Sarah Curry – who has clocked up 10 years’ service with North Wales Police – after a spate of purse thefts in the town.

The purse bells system was on show at a pop up show at the town’s Victoria Shopping Centre where the police and partner agencies were showcasing crime prevention and safety measures.

Among the visitors was North Wales Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Julian Sandham who described the purse bells as an “inspired” idea.

Sarah explained: “Purse dipping, where thieves steal purses from handbags or out of coat pockets, is actually not a big problem in North Wales. In fact it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

“But a few years back we did have a spate of a purse thefts and I just wondered what we could do to prevent them happening. I came up with the idea of a couple of light weight, but quite loud, bells that can be clipped to a purse.

“The bells have proved really successful and very popular and we are always been asked if we have any spare we can give out to members of the public. I even have tourists who come to Llandudno regularly asking me if I have any they could take away with them.”

“To be honest, perhaps we should have taken the idea to Dragon’s Den! However, I’m just glad the idea works and is proving so popular with Llandudno shoppers and residents.

“If it helps prevent crime and makes people feel safer then we have done our job and that’s all that matters.”

Mr Sandham said: “I’m so impressed. The idea PCSO Sarah Curry has come up with to prevent purse thefts with her warning bells is so simple but ingenious And it’s clearly an idea the public have bought into.

“If it helps prevent just one purse from being stolen then it’s worth it but it’s also given the public much needed reassurance that their police service is ahead of the game in the fight against crime.

“It’s amazing people re-visiting the area, who are aware of the purse bells, are asking for them. That shows the public has confidence in what is such a simple but clever idea.”

Sarah Curry’s purse bells were just one of the many crime prevention and public safety measures on show at the shop where Neighbourhood Watch, Conwy Trading Standards and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service all had display stands giving advice and safety guidance.

Mr Sandham added: “In fact there is a wealth of practical help on offer which will benefit and help educate the public on crime prevention issues.

“And what is really good is that we have modern crime prevention messages with regard to things like cyber-crime and staying safe on-line alongside the traditional ones such as preventing burglaries and thefts.

“That blend of modern and traditional crime prevention messages is vitally important. It isn’t lost on me that if you can prevent crime you take away all the trauma victims suffer. It really is all about helping people.”

Tobi Smith of Conwy County Borough Council’s Trading Standards was on hand to point out to members of the public the importance of being aware of fake products.

He said: “We really need to raise awareness of the issue of fake products which is a massive issue in the region.

“Everyone looks for a bargain but that Liverpool or Manchester United shirt that seems very cheap and is a bargain not to be missed may turn out to be fake and highly dangerous as it is made of highly flammable material.

“We also have a massive health hazard from fake cigarettes. The people that peddle these simply don’t care what they put in them and the end result is people are inhaling some very dangerous chemicals.”

He added: “We have even tested some fake perfumes and discovered they contain human urine, it’s horrendous and a really big issue across North Wales.

“We should also remember that the money made from fake products helps fund organised crime across the region.”

Louise Roche, who volunteers at Llandudno’s Neighbourhood Watch Market Street, drop-in centre, was on hand to check lap-tops and home computers for spy and Trojan ware and give advice about on-line safety.

She said: “Many people are completely unaware of on-line security and that fraudsters are trying to get into the computers, lap-tops and other devices to steal information.

“I’ve found all sorts of spyware on lap-tops that have been brought to me to have a look at. It’s all about taking simple measures to prevent fraudsters gaining access to your personal information.”

She added: “Together with my colleagues, Joanne Norman and Pete Bradley, who founded Llandudno’s Neighbour Watch drop-in centre 16 years ago, we are also giving out advice on crime prevention and preventing burglaries and thefts.”

David and Lesley Frost, of Rhiwlas, dropped into the pop-up crime prevention store for advice of credit card security.

David, a retired builder, said: “Having so much information in one place is a great idea and having experts on hand to ask questions of is also really good. I think the whole idea of a pop-up crime prevention shop is inspired to be honest.”

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