An undercover police operation is underway in Huddersfield and Dewsbury to thwart thieves and pickpockets in the run-up to Christmas.

Plain clothed officers will mingle with shoppers to catch those preying on the public in the two town centres.

Officers from the Kirklees Town Centre Partnership will be conducting patrols on main shopping streets at busy times as part of a package of crime prevention and safety measures in December, which also include licensing visits.

Free purse dipping prevention bells will also be made available for older and vulnerable residents via local cafes and charity shops.

Officers want shoppers to enjoy themselves when out and about over the Christmas season but advise there are practical safety steps they can take to put off thieves. Guard against becoming a victim of theft by:

Always securing zips and fastenings on bags and pockets;

Never leaving bags, mobile phones, coats and other valuables unattended;

Avoiding advertising your valuables to would-be thieves.

Kirklees Council Cabinet member for communities, Clr Carole Pattison

Local officers and Safer Kirklees also continue to work closely with retailers to crack down on repeat shop theft offenders.

A 55-year-old Huddersfield man was recently jailed for 28 weeks after being charged with four breaches of a Criminal Behaviour Order preventing him from entering parts of Huddersfield town centre. the man was also charged with theft from a town centre retailer.

Sgt Amanda Holroyd, of Kirklees Town Centre Partnership, said: “We work closely with our retail partners in Huddersfield and Dewsbury and want to do all we can to help them and shoppers through the festive season.

“Our undercover patrols are now operating to watch out for shoplifting and theft, and I want to make it clear to prospective shoplifters and purse dippers that it is not worth the risk committing offences here in Huddersfield town centre. 

“We are also in the process of dropping off purse bells and crime prevention leaflets to cafes and charity shops in both Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres where our older community members may visit, to encourage them to pick up a purse bell and stay safer this Christmas.”

Sgt Holroyd added: “The recent jail sentence given to a man for breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order for store theft demonstrates that those who repeatedly offend can face prison.

“Anyone who has information about persons involved in theft and anti-social behaviour in Huddersfield or Dewsbury is asked to make reports to the town centre partnership officers or the Dewsbury or Huddersfield NPTs. Information can also be given anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800-555 111.”

Kirklees Council Cabinet member for communities, Clr Carole Pattison, said: “I’m really pleased that the police are stepping up their activity in our town centres over the next few weeks.

“Dewsbury and Huddersfield have plenty of brilliant events, shopping and hospitality on offer this Christmas. It’s great to know that shoppers and revellers will be able to enjoy them all safely too.

“The police patrols sit alongside all the other work that’s going on in town centres this Christmas, including our night safety bus in Huddersfield, to give residents peace of mind as they enjoy the festive period.”