POLICE have warned Winchester residents to be extra vigilant against crime over Christmas.

Speaking at a Partnership and Communities Together (PACT) meeting in Harestock last Tuesday (Nov 27), officers said they were running several campaigns to increase awareness of crime.

A major problem is pickpockets operating in busy shopping areas and police gave a number of tips to keep money safe.

PC Robin Tebb said: “We have had problems with people following others about and waiting for an opportunity. What’s very popular today is someone spilling something on you and then someone else stealing your wallet while the other is cleaning you up.

“They are very good at it and sometimes can make off with £300. Older people tend to take a lot of cash around as well so we encourage everyone to lock up your wallets and purses. Even cards can be taken but not so much now as card companies are getting better at security.”

He added: “We will have police patrolling the streets in high-vis gear and will be running an anti-violence campaign in high-vis gear watching late night drinkers as we find when we are around less seems to happen.

“We also have a ‘Don’t get Smashed’ drink-driving campaign that starts on December 1st so don’t let that happen to your vehicle. We want to make sure everyone is safe.”

Police are also encouraging residents to leave upstairs lights when leaving their homes to ward off potential burglars.

PC Tebb said: “A burglar is looking for an opportunity to get into a property and when it’s dark they will more likely choose a place which does not have a light on. “Light bulbs these days are efficient and cheap to run, and much cheaper to buy than it will cost to sort out your home insurance.”

Police also warned motorists to take all valuables with them when leaving their vehicles, particularly in beauty spots like Farley Mount.