Pickpocket gangs target East Yorkshire pensioners
GANGS of pickpockets have been targeting the elderly across the East Riding.
Police have warned pensioners to be alert after organised gangs stole money from a woman in Beverley.
Beverley inspector Robert Cocker said: "The gangs are likely to come to a vicinity in a group and go to open places and supermarkets.
"They will dip into a handbag.
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"They use slight of hand and they're quite skillful at what they do."
The thieves tend to target specific places and people.
Insp Cocker said: "I've noticed it before in shops and precincts and crowded charity shops in Beverley.
"They go wherever more vulnerable elderly people are and you can bump into people and go quite unnoticed.
"All crimes have got victims but it preys on the more vulnerable people where the quantities involved might be considerable to that person."
Pickpockets targeted Beverley earlier in the year, with thieves working in pairs.
In one case, an elderly woman was distracted when one thief started talking to her while his accomplice snatched both her purse and wallet.
Another theft saw the female victim approached by two women.
Her purse was stolen while she was distracted.
And a gang of pickpockets targeted a gig by The Vaccines at The Spa Bridlington on Thursday, May 3.
They stole at least 20 high- value mobiles and smart phones from fans.
Insp Cocker said he would describe this kind of pickpocketing as organised crime.
He said: "I would say they do operate in groups from an organised point of view.
"They are not just opportunists and my view is we can class it as organised."
Police intelligence suggests the gangs are from eastern Europe.
Because they target different towns across the region, it is hard for officers to identify the criminals.
Insp Cocker said: "It's not that common in one place – they're not daft enough to keep coming back.
"It's not in their interests to become known in a particular vicinity because then we can take action to prevent it.
"Part of the technique is to go from place to place."
Police are advising shoppers not to carry large amounts of cash with them and to keep money in their inside pockets.
Insp Cocker said: "Make sure your handbag is secure and the location of your purse is secure, preferably in an inside pocket.
"Some people will take hundreds of pounds of cash – it can be a generational thing.
"Some people will keep large amounts of cash on them and that can be a risk."
The inspector said Beverley had been quiet for some months now but thieves could visit the town again.
Although the amounts pickpocketed were often small, he said the impact on pensioners and their families could be significant.
Insp Cocker said: "It can be distressing for them and for their families."