Four undercover officers found shoppers who were placing their handbags in shopping trolleys and leaving their handbags unattended whilst shopping.
Two officers managed to remove handbags from shopping trolleys and took purses out of unzipped shopping bags hung on to the trolley. In total 49 bags and purses were removed in a three-hour period.
Officers then identified themselves to shoppers and handed back purses and handbags and gave advice on security of personal possessions.
The operation, involving eight officers received an overwhelming response from shoppers to the action taken by the police and although many admitted to knowing that they should take better care of their property, they said this had made a impact.
Chief inspector Gwyn Thomas from South Yorkshire Police’s community safety department said: “We’re working with retailers to try and combat the recent rise in retail crime.”
“One of our tactics is to make the public aware that they can assist by being more vigilant and be on their guard for possible pick-pockets when out and about shopping.”
“We are also linking with the staff in shops to teach them about how they can try to prevent falling victim to retail crime by following some simple guidance; look out for suspicious behaviour, ensure CCTV is working, avoid putting displays near open doors and try to have more staff on duty during busy periods.”
“Retail crime impacts on businesses which in turn affects communities. This is why it is one of SYP’s priority crime types to combat.”