ELDERLY and vulnerable people are to be issued with purse bells in a bid to reduce thefts.

The Safer Ryedale Partnership has funded the bells, which can be attached to the zip of people’s purses.

The idea is that if anyone tries to grab the purse the owner and people nearby are immediately alerted by the noise.

Community partnerships officer Gail Cook said: “We are advising shoppers to take extra care of their belongings while they are out and about.

“Be extra vigilant of people around you and be aware of where your belongings are should anyone try to distract you.

“Never leave your handbag unattended, or in a shopping trolley, and always securely fasten your handbag, with the opening zip or flap next to your body.”

Inspector Andy Everitt said: “The purse bells are designed to be a deterrent to thieves and we want to make them available to as many elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents as possible.”

The bells are available for residents who request them at police stations and Ryedale District Council offices.