Pickpocketing halved in Romford town centre

A SUCCESSFUL crime crackdown has seen pickpocketing plummet over the past month, new figures reveal this week.

In December there were 23 thefts or snatches compared to 46 in 2009.

In the run-up to the festive period Havering Council and police launched a new scheme with 150 retailers to ban thieves from the town centre.

A group meets regularly to share intelligence on issues and known troublemakers.

A separate panel made up of shop-owners and security teams decide the banning orders – 14 have been made so far.

Authorities handed out thousands of purse chains to attach to handbags to prevent thieves from stealing purses.

The council also armed all Romford Market traders with whistles to help deter and catch pickpockets preying on elderly shoppers.

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In addition, police increased high-visibility patrols in the town centre and also had plain-clothed officers on the look-out for thieves.

Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are extremely pleased that pickpocketing and thefts were halved and that the work by our officers, the police and traders themselves has paid off.

“When we work together as a community we can make a real difference so that residents and visitors find Romford a more pleasant and enjoyable place to shop.”

Inspector Mick Bates of Havering Police said: “We are delighted that the community in Havering has listened to the messages that are being given around pickpocketing and have enabled such a strong reduction.

He added: “The teams of police officers and Council staff promoting the various deterrent methods has signposted to pickpockets that Romford is not the place to come. We hope that we can continue this reduction in 2011 and ask all those using transport services and town centres to remain vigilant.”