As many shops reopen and coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, police say they are prepared for a potential increase in pickpocketing and will be stepping up patrols in hotspots.
Monday (15 June) saw many shoppers venture out on to high streets throughout Greater Manchester, as well as in the city centre, as non-essential retailers opened their doors for the first time since lockdown.
As more people are out in town centres and long queues gather outside shops, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say it is acutely aware of the risk that robberies could rise and have sent out a warning to criminals that "we are here, we are watching and we are committed to keeping our streets safe".
"High visibility patrols" will be deployed in areas which are hotspots for such crimes, and covert officers will be targeting offenders as well as engaging with members of the public to offer crime prevention advice.
There will also be signage around Manchester city centre and town centres in Greater Manchester to remind people of a police presence in the area.
GMP is also relaunching Operation Valiant - which first began in February 2018 with the aim of reducing personal robberies by deterring offenders and educating the public about the risks and different steps they can use to keep themselves safe.
Superintendent Chris Hill, Force Lead for Robbery at Greater Manchester Police, said: “Understandably we have seen a reduction in incidents of personal robbery in the city centre and across town centres in Greater Manchester, as Covid-19 restrictions meant the shutting of retail stores and the need for people to stay at home where possible.
“As these restrictions ease and the footfall on our streets increase, there is a danger of an increase in these incidents. Our officers are prepared for this. Although retailers are beginning to reopen, restrictions will mean that the shopping experience will be very different. As well as targeting offenders, it’s important that we are educating the public on how to keep themselves and their belongings safe during this period of change.
“Operation Valiant has already had a positive impact not only in the city centre, but across Greater Manchester, with a number of arrests of prolific offenders. As Greater Manchester begins to reopen, GMP’s message to offenders remains the same – we are here, we are watching and we are committed to keeping our streets safe. We are also asking members of the public to work with us – to report crimes or suspicious activity and follow simple steps to help prevent themselves from falling victim.
“If you see something suspicious or want to report a crime, you can do so via our website or by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.”