British Transport Police is appealing for information following a bag containing a necklace with high sentimental value was stolen from outside a pub in Leeds railway station.
The theft happened on Sunday, August 4 when a 43-year-old woman, who had recently undergone intensive treatment for cancer, had her handbag stolen as she sat outside Wetherspoons at around 5.50pm.
Police have released a picture of the woman they wish to speak to.
PC Penny Halliwell, investigating the theft, said, “She had been given a four leaf clover necklace for good luck by her son. Due to scarring following her treatment she was unable to wear the necklace so carried it in her purse which was in her bag when it was stolen.
“As you can imagine she is devastated by having such a sentimental and important piece of jewellery stolen.” The victim was sat with her partner next to the banner tarpaulin when a woman, who was stood nearby, chatted on her phone. Whilst she was talking she moved the bag with her foot, put two bags she was carrying on down before picking them, and the victim’s bag, up and left the station towards City Square.
PC Halliwell said: “We’re asking for help from members of the public to help us identify the woman caught on CCTV as we believe she may be able to assist us with our enquiries.
“The victim has been though such a difficult time over the past few months and it is vital that do everything we can to try and trace the her bag, return her necklace to her and find who is responsible for this theft.”
The appeal comes following the force’s launch of Operation Magnum last week. Operation Magnum is a British Transport Police (BTP) campaign to help rail passengers keep valuables safe from pickpockets, gadget-grabbers and luggage thieves.
As part of the initiative, officers have issued video clips to help the travelling public spot 13 of the most common tricks thieves use.
Operation Magnum will see BTP officers work with train operating companies and local police forces to disrupt and deter pickpockets who prey on unsuspecting commuters and tourists at busy stations, thieves who brazenly snatch expensive smartphones from distracted passengers’ hands and those who steal luggage and valuables on trains.
Chief Supt Terry Nicholson said: “Thefts on the rail network are very rarely opportunistic. They are committed by determined thieves whose sole intention is to steal from other passengers.
“While crime on the rail network is down for the ninth successive year, theft of passenger property has been a real challenge for us this year, particularly with the rise in thefts of smartphones and other high-tech devices.
“We’ll use a range of tactics to create a really difficult environment for criminals to operate within, including intelligence-led patrols by uniformed officers and plain-clothes theft squad detectives. Thieves operating on the rail network should know that they will be caught and dealt with, no matter where they are operating across Britain.”
Top tips include keeping your luggage close by and checking on it regularly, keeping your valuables hidden if you’re going to sleep and always zipping up any hand or shoulder bags.
Chief Supt Nicholson added: “Unsurprisingly, mobile phones are a popular target for thieves, so try to keep yours hidden. Installing a tracker application on your smartphone could help trace your device if it’s stolen.”
*Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket
*Zip up hand and shoulder bags
*Carry bags in front of you, with flaps against your body
*Keep straps short and bags tucked under your arm
*Don’t display jewellery, mobile phones and MP3 players
*Don’t show your money - keep it safely in your pocket
*Stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you when using your phone in public
*Keep your luggage close by and check it regularly
Anyone with information is asked to contact BTP on 0800 405040 or text 61016 quoting background reference B1/NEA of 23/08/2013.
Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.