THIEVES beware – police are planning a series of operations to cut the number of thefts in the run up to Christmas.

A mix of uniformed and plain clothed police officers will be on patrol over the coming weeks in Huddersfield town centre.

Sgt Mandy Mellor said the force was also handing out crime-prevention gadgets to shoppers.

She said: “Every Christmas we run an operation in the town centre looking at ways of preventing crime, it’s everything from targeting thieves, beggars and anti-social behaviour.

“We’re also raising awareness and giving tips to shoppers and the Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership (HTCPL) has helped us.”

The Partnership has funded purse chains, secret purses and purse dipping bells.

But Sgt Mellor says any shopper can fall victim to thieves: “The best advice we can give people is to keep their purse in an inside pocket, zipped up.

“Be extra careful at the till because it can be busy and so people need to be more vigilant.

“People may be shopping with more money on them than usual, so put it in a jacket or coat pocket out of reach or inside a zip pocket in a bag.”

The three secret weapons to cutting purse thefts will be handed out as part of the operation between now and December 24.

Purse chains allow shoppers to secure their purse to their body or bag by a chain. The secret purses connect the shopper to the purse via a piece of string, while the bells alert the owner to a potential theft if the purse is moved.

The HTCPL contributed £500 towards the purchase of purse chains, secret purses and purse dipping bells.

Paul Scott, chairman of the HTCPL, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative. Part of the HTCPL remit is, in collaboration with many partner agencies, to promote Huddersfield as a friendly and safe town to visit and play in.

“HTCPL is an independent partnership of businesses working closely with the police and manage the radio link for the businesses in the town centre.

“This initiative is just another way of helping the partners support the town.”