BELLS attached to purses as a deterrent to thieves have been handed out free in Hucknall town centre.
Chris Baron, a former Labour member for Hucknall on Notts County Council, will be stood outside the High Street post office to distribute the bells on behalf of the town’s Safer Neighbourhoods Committee.
He said: “These little bells should help to dispel fears of shoppers that their purses might be stolen. If anyone snatches a purse, the bells give a jingle to sound the alarm.”
Mr Baron’s initiative comes after a series of purse thefts in Hucknall during the period leading up to Christmas.
One victim was 70-year-old Pat Britten, of Clumber Street, Hucknall, whose purse — which contained just over £200 and all her credit cards — was stolen from her shopping bag.
She said she felt so upset about the theft, which she discovered after a visit to the Card Factory shop on High Street, that it made her feel ill. She added that it was the first time anything like this had happened to her and it cast a cloud over her enjoyment of Christmas.
Another victim was a 69-year-old woman who did not want to be identified. Her purse was taken while she was in Fultons food shop on High Street.
Mr Baron gave out about 700 purse bells. He said: “The bells have been paid for with grants to the Safer Neighbourhoods Committee. It is ironic that some people seemed a bit suspicious about being given something for free but the vast majority were very pleased to receive them.
“I very much hope that the bells help to act as a deterrent to purse thieves in the town centre.”
Mr Baron’s initiative complements a police and Safer Neighbourhood poster highlighted by a piercing pair of eyes with the message to thieves: ‘We’re Watching You’.
The poster points out that there have been several purse thefts in the town centre in the last few weeks. Shoppers are warned to keep their valuables safe and bags securely closed.
Hucknall police commander, Insp Nick Butler, said: “I hope the combined approaches of the posters and the bells will have the desired effect of cracking down on the purse thefts.
“It can be very distressing, especially for older people, if they find their purses have been taken and we obviously want to do everything we can to prevent this happening in future.”
Towards the end of last year, the Dispatch published an appeal for shoppers to be wary of pickpockets and sneak thieves in the countdown to Christmas.
Anyone who sees anything suspicious is asked to report it on 0300 300 9999 or, in an emergency, to dial 999. Alternatively, calls can be made free to the confidential Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.