SHOPPERS in Burnley are being urged to become Scrooges when it comes to giving Christmas cheer to thieves.

Town centre police have launched a series of initiatives, over the festive period, which are designed to leave pick-pockets and sneak thieves out in the cold.

Jingle bells, which sound when someone tries to dip into bags or coats for purses and wallets, is one of the main weapons being promoted by the Burnley bobbies.

And town centre patrols will also be handing out fridge magnets, number-plate screws and crime prevention leaflets to give more advice about how to avoid the yuletide killjoys.

Sgt Rodger Crew said: “We tend to see an increase in pickpockets and purse dippers who like to take advantage of the busy crowds out around Christmas time.

“The jingle bells are a fantastic deterrent to thieves.

“I urge people to keep their bags with them at all times, keep purses and other valuables in zipped inside pockets and carry their bags across their bodies with any flaps facing inwards. We want everyone to enjoy their Christmas in Burnley which is why we are giving out jingle bells to help keep people’s valuable items safe.”

The campaign was launched with a ‘day of action’ yesterday and extra patrols around town centre car parks are being planned in the run-up to Christmas.

Police community support officers will also be visiting rural properties to spread the word to outlying villages, during December.

The advice is being extended to domestic properties, with warnings regarding unlocked doors and windows, and the dangers of leaving cars unattended while they are being defrosted in the mornings.

For more information on home security, call the police on the non emergency line 101.