Police have warned shoppers in Harborough to be on their guard after a spate of purse thefts while people were browsing in town shops.
Thieves have been a stealing purses from shopping trolleys while people were strolling the aisles in supermarkets.
And PC Malc Roberts, of Harborough’s Neighbourhood Team, said thieves sometimes see peaceful Harborough as a “soft touch”.
He said: “We suspect it’s people from outside the area who target the town because it’s Market Harborough and this sort of thing doesn’t happen much here.”
Many of the recent thefts have happened inside supermarkets, while people have been preoccupied with their shopping.
PC Roberts explained: “You see it all the time; people leaving their bags and their purses in their shopping trollies while they wander off to buy something.
“We’re just trying to get the message out there to keep purses safe even when you’re inside a shop.
“Don’t leave them visible. Be aware of where your purse is at all times.”
PC Roberts said the nature of this sort of crime means that people do not notice the theft until some time later – usually when they are queuing to pay at the checkouts.
By then, of course, the thief has left the store.
Harborough officers have been targeting purse crime in the town for the last two weekends, and will be doing the same this weekend.
One precaution that people can take is to buy a purse bell, which jangles if the purse is moved.
Police are looking at CCTV, and believe they may have identified one female suspect.
“None of our team has been able to identify her, and normally someone would if she is local,” said PC Roberts.
He added that on some occasions it’s a small gang of purse thieves, rather than an individual.
Police have urged shoppers to contact them on the 101 number if they see anything suspicious.