POLICE have issued a warning to Andover residents after receiving a string of reports of purse thefts in the town centre area.

Posting to Facebook, Test Valley Cops wrote: "Neighbourhood Officers have been patrolling the Town Centre as part of Op Scrooge - to prevent shoplifting, for community engagement and to increase community confidence."

They added: "There have been some recent reports of purse thefts - please make sure you keep your bags close and zipped up at all times, also be wary when putting them in shopping trollies.

"Please come and say hello if you see us about!"

Operation Scrooge is an annual campaign from Hampshire Constabulary aimed at targetting shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in Test Valley over the festive period.

Test Valley Inspector Chris Taylor said: “As Christmas approaches, more and more people will be out and about in our town’s shops and banks.

“Test Valley is a safe place to live and work but it is not immune to people who wish to take advantage of shoppers and businesses at this time of year.

“The aim of our operation is to deter and detect crime and provide reassurance to the public and businesses.

“We will continue to use tactics that have proved successful in previous years to make sure those who commit crime in the town centre are dealt with robustly.

"We would also encourage retail outlets to report any thefts online. This enables us to build a better picture and target our resources in future years.”

To report a crime online, visit: https://www.hampshire.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/