Shoppers are urged to be on their guard after a series of purse thefts in Chester .

Thieves are peeking at PIN numbers while a purchase is made and then pinching purses when their victim is distracted.

Chester Local Policing Unit are reacting to a number of incidents at supermarkets in the area.

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Chief Inspector Paul Williams said: “The offenders are noting PIN numbers when the victims make a purchase at the till and when they are distracted take the opportunity to steal their purse.

“Cards are used before the victim realises their purse is missing and money has gone from their account.”

Cheshire Police are sending out high visibility police patrols in the city centre over the festive period under Operation Centurion.

Ch Insp Williams said: “Our advice is for shoppers to keep their purses safe in their handbags and their handbags zipped and secured at all times.

“If you are approached by anyone wanting your assistance or attempting to distract you in any way, then be very wary of their intentions and ensure your personal belongings are secure.”

Anyone who spots suspicious activity should contact police on 101 and also tell store security staff.

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