Thurles.Info have received as yet two unconfirmed reports of bag snatching incidents, happening within the Thurles area, over the past couple of weeks.
Although Thurles town has a very low incidence of such behaviour, Thurles Gardaí would like to remind people of a few simple rules in relation to ‘letting their guard down’, particularly in the present economic climate and coming up to the Christmas 2016 period.
Speaking to Sergeant Gerard Harrington at Thurles Garda Station today, Sgt Harrington offers his advice to all shoppers.
(1) Lady drivers please stop the practise of placing handbags on your front passenger car seat. This common practise, particularly, is a huge incentive to thieves lurking in any area. Instead place your handbag and any other valuables out of sight in your car boot and when driving in slow traffic, learn to lock car doors from the inside. When loading shopping into your car, if approached by strangers or other undesirables, immediately close your car boot until you become fully aware of their true intentions.
(2) Leave purses at home. Use a wallet, secured in a zipped pocket. You have no secure coat pocket and there are other items such as make-up, house keys, mobile phone etc., which you wish to carry on your person; then purchase a bag that will belt around your tummy and which hides such items from constant view.
(3) With evenings becoming darker and the change to ‘Old Time’ now imminent; confine yourself to walking in busy, well lit areas where possible. Remember purse snatchers / handbag snatchers are less likely to strike in such areas, as they don’t wish to be identified. Walk with briskness and with confidence and if possible with a friend.
If you find yourself having to walk alone in an isolated or lightly populated area, be aware and observe those who might pass you or indicate that they may approach you. If you are not seen as vulnerable and well able to give their physical description, they in many cases will avoid contact.
(4) Report suspicious activity. If you suspect that a stranger appears to be lurking in a particular area where they have no known business, contact a manager or security personnel, if in the case of a shopping centre or supermarket. Call Gardaí in the case of trespass witnessed on your own or your neighbours’ private property. After all it is better to report your suspicions and be wrong, than it is to ignore and be robbed or hurt. Your anonymity and confidentiality will always be protected.
(5) Hold handbags and purses tightly and close to your body, particularly when on buses, trains or out walking or shopping. Ensure your bags latches or zips are fully closed and if possible, wear handbags on your shoulder underneath a coat or jacket. You might be tempted to wear your bag diagonally across your body, e.g. across your neck as well as your shoulder, or loop bag straps around your wrist to prevent it from being easily snatched. While such held in this manner may be seen by thieves as a deterrent, in some cases; do keep in mind that if someone does snatch your bag, a hard yank can actually cause you bodily injury.
(6) Don’t carry any more cash or credit cards than you absolutely need, to undertake your shopping. If you are inclined to carry multiple Credit Cards, remember just one credit card should be sufficient for your needs. Always have quick access to your banks customer service information so that you can immediately report any card stolen. Ask yourself before leaving your home whether the contents of your purse, wallet or handbag are worth receiving an injury for, however minor.
(7) When making / receiving mobile phone calls find a place where you can secure your back, e.g. a wall, shop window and avoid doorways. Stop and place your rear end against the nearest large tree, pillar or wall, before transacting your conversation, with the knowledge that if your valuable iPhone is to be snatched from your grasp; same will at least be within the range of your immediate vision and thus lead to the possible identification or description of your unwelcome attacker.
(8) Remember, no matter what, YOU, as a person are more valuable than your bag, phone or purse. If someone yanks it away from your hands or your shoulder, let it go. It is more important to avoid personal serious injury than to save a handbag. Avoid your initial desire to fight to keep your possessions. Instead try to get a description of your assailant including footwear, hair colour, clothing, height, the number plate and colour / make of any vehicle suspected etc., before contacting Gardaí as soon as possible. Usually such individuals are already known to Gardaí.
(9) Be careful when using Bank or other Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). ATMs are a great convenience, but they can compromise your safety. Use cash machines at bank branches as same are probably the safest bet. Avoid an ATM at the corner of a building. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout your entire transaction and be very wary of people who try to help you. Do not permit people to look over your shoulder, particularly as you enter your PIN number. Never ever count cash at the machine or while you remain in public view. Wait until you are in your car (doors locked from the inside) or in at least a more secure area. If you do become involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, simply comply with their wishes.
Sgt Harrington was most anxious to point out that leaflets and advice on such safety protections are available, on a 24 hours basis from Thurles Garda Station, or though your locally appointed community Garda member.
“Thurles Gardaí are always ready and available to discuss matters regarding security and safety to any individual or groupings within the Thurles Garda District”, said Sgt. Harrington.