Sunday 27 August 2006


Ring out the bells for new crime strategy

A new method of stopping pickpockets is being trialled in south east Northumberland. Northumbria police are distributing free cat bells to residents in the Ashington and Bedlington areas to attach to their purse or handbags. It is hoped that the bells the type used on cat collars will act as a deterrent to thieves by making a noise to alert the owner.

DC Colin Blyth, of Ashington CID, said: "In the past Ashington has had a problem with purse dippers who predominantly target older women. "We considered a variety of high-tech methods to tackle the issue but, after some research, I found this idea of fitting a cat bell to the purse or handbag. "If a thief tries to take it, the bell will make a noise, alerting the owner or anyone else nearby. The bell also naturally makes a noise when the purse or handbag is removed by the owner themselves which helps remind them to keep it secure. "The bells are being offered to anyone in the area, not just older people, and we hope that if the public take advantage of the scheme then it will deter purse dippers from trying to commit offences in the first place."

The police have 1,000 bells to give away which will be given to people through shops in Ashington town centre. They are also available to pick up at Ashington or Bedlington police stations.

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