A new police operation to combat distraction thefts in Nottingham city centre is showing early signs of success.
Neighbourhood officers launched Operation Cloud two weeks ago following a rise in mobile thefts at places including fast-food outlets and coffee shops.
A number of initiatives have been launched as part of the proactive operation and already there’s been a fall in reports.
Sergeant Paul Whitehead, of the City Centre neighbourhood policing team, said:
“The operation came about after a spate of distraction thefts over a three-week period.
“Typically, a victim would be sitting in a coffee shop or café and someone would come up to them asking for directions.
“That same person would then place a piece of paper over their mobile phone, which would be on the table, and while the victim was providing directions the distraction thief would take their phone.
“To combat this, we are distributing crime prevention postcards and posters that advise the public on how to keep their possessions safe.
“We’ve also stepped up plain-clothed patrols and high-visibility patrols to both catch and deter offenders.
“In addition to this, we’re deploying some covert tactics and also engaging with various partners and licensed premises to ensure they’re doing everything possible to protect their customers.
“We’re also working with the local universities to ensure our messaging reaches the student population – and we’ll be doing a crime prevention assembly at a local school to further get our message across.
“This is all in addition to some posts we’ve put on social media to raise awareness of the issue.”
Since the operation was launched, reports of mobile phone thefts in the city centre have fallen.
Sgt Whitehead said:
“We’ve gone from 13 reports in three weeks, to just one report in 10 days – so the operation is already having an impact.”
The postcards and posters that are being distributed across the city centre encourage people to “keep your stuff safe, don’t give anyone the opportunity”.
On the back of the postcards, a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ is provided.
The don’ts include:
Leave your stuff unattended
Write PIN numbers down
Make it easy for thieves
The dos include:
Only carry cash you need
Use a PIN or pattern code on your phone for security
Carry valuables in inside pockets of clothing or bags
Track your phone with ‘Find my iPhone’ software or ‘PREY’