Shoppers in Middlesbrough are being offered purse bells as a way of deterring thieves this festive season.
The anti-theft devices will be available from Hillstreet Shopping Centre, on Friday, November 15, thanks to a partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough and Cleveland Police Cadets.
The bells attach to the handle of a bag or purse so the owner can hear if they are being targeted.
The initiative comes just three weeks after an 80-year-old woman was targeted by two purse thieves while shopping in Stockton on Tees.
Peter Drabble, Centre Manager at Hillstreet, said: “We are proud to be working with these organisations to help ensure people’s belongings are safe and secure while out Christmas shopping.
“It is important that people are aware of their surroundings at all times, especially at this time of year.
“I would also urge shoppers to ensure bags are zipped up and that when shopping is left in cars, there are no shopping bags left on view.”
Cleveland Police Cadets are hoping the small, tinkling bells could be the key to cutting the number of purse thefts and bag snatches this winter.
The Cadets and event co-ordinators from Ageing Better will be handing out the free anti-theft devices from 11am, as well as offering handy seasonal advice and crime prevention advice tips for the festive period.
James Mcleary, Coordinator at Middlesbrough Unit – Cleveland Police Cadets, said: “Purse bells make it easier to know when you’re being targeted by a thief and they are a useful tool in helping to prevent people from becoming victims.
“Having the bells doesn’t make people complacent, but they are intended as an extra security measure.”