Romford Market traders to blow the whistle on pickpockets!

ROMFORD Market traders hope to deliver a blow to crime this Christmas as they prepare to catch pickpockets – with whistles!

Every stallholder will be given a whistle which they will use if they see a thief stealing from a customer - the noise should alert other traders who can act as potential witnesses.

They can also call 999 to report the crime.

It is hoped the scheme, run by Havering Council and Havering Police, will not only help to catch crooks red-handed, but also act as a deterrent.

Tony Geary, chairman of the Romford branch of the National Market Traders’ Federation, welcomes the initiative.

“It will be really good for the traders, council and police to be working together to make the market a better and safer place for the public,” he said. “We want to scare the thieves away.”

The theft of wallets from handbags, known as purse-dipping, tends to rise in the run-up to Christmas - with OAPs as the chief victims.

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Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Any thief that wants to pickpocket a shopper at Romford Market now knows that we have around 125 traders armed with whistles to protect their customers and call for help. If they are caught in the act there will be no place for them to hide. We want to drive thieves from the market and town centre.”

The council and police will also be handing out 6,000 purse chains during the festive period which can be attached to handbags to prevent thieves from stealing purses.

Insp Mick Bates of Havering Police said: “Pickpockets love busy areas and hate attention drawn to them. They need an environment to move without notice and effectively become invisible. We want to disrupt that and make Romford Market an uncomfortable place to be a thief.”