Incidents of theft in Whitby town centre have almost doubled compared with this time last year, say police who are warning Christmas shoppers to be on their guard.
Insp Andy Colbourne from Whitby police says members of the public are making it too easy for thieves and pickpockets especially as town gets busier with people doing Christmas shopping.
Throughout December police officers and community support staff have been focusing their patrols on the main shopping areas where the majority of thefts have been taking place.
In the town centre in 2012 there were 69 recorded incidents of theft whereas this year there has already been 103 - a 49.3% increase.
Insp Colbourne said: “Members of the public need to be a little bit more aware. I have walked around in town and people have had their handbags open - they need to make sure their property is secure.
“I don’t know the reason behind the increase. Maybe people have less money and are turning to crime.
“I also think that we had a lot of people in Whitby over the summer and the opportunities to commit crime increased.”
Figures for rural areas are down 21.6%. There were 58 crimes this year, 74 in 2012.