POLICE patrols are under way to make sure festive shoppers enjoy a crime-free Christmas.
Hartlepool Police are working with businesses and security companies in a bid to make sure both visitors to and residents of the town enjoy a safe and crime-free Christmas.
Police and security staff say they will be on the lookout for shoplifters and anyone else intent on committing crime.
They will be particularly keeping an eye on “known individuals” who they think are responsible for the majority of shop thefts.
It is part of Respect Hartlepool, a Mail-backed campaign which was launched by police with support from the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.
It aims to reduce crime levels in three key areas: violent crime associated with the night-time economy, violent crime due to domestic violence and shoplifting.
Inspector Carl Broughton, of Hartlepool Police, said: “Officers will be conducting uniform and plain clothed patrols, working with security guards and utilising CCTV to ensure that your trip to Hartlepool is a safe and happy one.
“Crime and anti-social behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the town.
“Police and their partners welcome everybody, but warn that they will take positive action against those who misbehave.
“Hartlepool is a fantastic place to visit, whether socialising or shopping and everybody is welcome.
“We aim to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all and will not allow a minority to spoil the occasion for everyone else.”
As part of the campaign, crimefighters visited a park cafe to pass on their festive safety message.
Crime prevention advisor Colin Hopkins, police community safety officer (PCSO) Cath Jones and Lorna Hilton from Victim Support were all at the Place in the Park Cafe, in Hartlepool’s Ward Jackson Park.
They were handing out jingle bells, which can be attached to bags and purses to deter and alert people to pickpockets.
“They also gave out advice about how to protect property and promoted the Ringmaster scheme that sends alerts to people’s phones.
The group say the Christmas and new year period can see a rise in thefts as shops and streets get busier.
The hustle and bustle is said to be ideal for criminals.
Mr Hopkins said: “It is important, particularly at this time of year, to take the precautions that will stop you becoming a victim of crime.
“The simplest thing, such as a bell, can make a big difference as the majority of thieves are opportunistic and look for easy targets.”
For more safety advice ring Mr Hopkins on (01429) 855560.
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